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Topic: Out of wits with my spouse who won't completely quit smoking

Forum: For Caregivers, Family, Friends and Supporters —

A place to share your struggles and concerns about supporting and caring for a person you love diagnosed with breast cancer with others who understand.

Posted on: Oct 2, 2019 01:38PM

Bakerstreet wrote:

Hi everyone there,

I am in kind of a thorny place with my spouse going through Taxol chemo now. I had to leave her to start our new home/job in a different city and my mum stays with her time to time during her remaining treatments. Today I learned from a common friend that the smoking she said she would quit is still going on. She had a deadline and she promised me that she would quit. I am thousands of miles away and I learned that she was lying when she said she was not smoking anymore. Friends say she only smokes a few/half-smoked but still it made me extremely anxious.

We had a fight over the phone, she knows the science, her doctors told her to quit but her anxiety is so big that she is doing the one thing that puts her at greater risk.

My mum told me not to begin the same conversation as it has an adverse effect on her but what do I do now?

I am really devastated. She has 2 Taxols left and she is stage 3 with many nodes involved. I am completely out of wits now.



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Oct 2, 2019 01:54PM footprintsangel wrote:

I know its hard, my caregiver smokes out side and she come in and

knows I am on oxygen. I am going to get a mask to wear and pray.

Please try and find a pastor or someone she will respect more, and

see if they can help you to know everyday is a very special day together.

I know how much You love her, Please let her know I am stage3 too

and had chemo in 2005, Good luck, Debbie

.

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Oct 2, 2019 01:56PM illimae wrote:

I’m sorry you both are going through this but please understand that quitting smoking is beyond difficult, especially under the stress of BC. It also has very little risk with regard to breast cancer recurrence, I’ve done the research and I have my own lapses, it’s super hard. I know you’re upset and disappointed but fighting just increases the stress. Hopefully, with encouragement, she’ll be ready to quit soon.

Diagnosed at 41 Stage IV De Novo Dx 11/16/2016, IDC, Left, 5cm, Stage IV, metastasized to bone, Grade 3, 3/13 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2+ (IHC) Chemotherapy 1/2/2017 Abraxane (albumin-bound or nab-paclitaxel) Targeted Therapy 1/2/2017 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Targeted Therapy 1/2/2017 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Surgery 6/26/2017 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Underarm/Axillary Radiation Therapy 8/10/2017 Breast, Lymph nodes Dx 10/5/2017, IDC, Left, Stage IV, metastasized to brain Radiation Therapy 10/20/2017 External: Brain Radiation Therapy 4/18/2018 External: Brain Radiation Therapy 5/23/2019 External: Brain Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Oct 2, 2019 02:13PM Bakerstreet wrote:

Illimae,

Thank you for your kind reply. You are right, she says the same thing. I don't have addictions so I guess I don't understand her much in this. I think I want to protect her but then apparently cause her worse stress. She tells exactly the same thing that BC treatment causes too much stress.

It really helps to hear it from another BC fighter and a smoker. I hope she becomes ready soon and sending you my best wishes in your own quitting.

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Oct 2, 2019 02:14PM Bakerstreet wrote:

Thank you Debbie! Encouraging words and sending you all my best wishes.

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Oct 2, 2019 02:51PM BellasMomToo wrote:

Bakerstreet, I ditto what illimae said. I'm a former smoker (quit almost 20 years ago). Quitting is soooo hard. Please keep in mind that you cannot make a smoker quit -- the smoker has to want to quit before he/she can actually quit. My advice to the smoker (when they are truly ready to quit) is to do what ever it takes to quit -- use nicotine gum, nicotine patch, etc.... Don't feel forced to go 'cold turkey', unless the smoker wants to quit 'cold turkey'. (I know former smokers who bragged about quitting 'cold turkey'. But I knew it wasn't for me and I would fail.)

I had a hard time quitting because I was addicted and I really enjoyed smoking. I haven't lapsed because I know that if I have one cigarette, I would start smoking again.

Hang in there!

Dx'd at age 56. Tumor found by my annual mammogram -- cancer can grow fast! Dx 10/6/2016, IDC, Left, 2cm, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+ (IHC) Dx 10/6/2016, DCIS, Left, Stage 0, ER+/PR- Targeted Therapy 11/1/2016 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Chemotherapy 11/1/2016 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Targeted Therapy 11/1/2016 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Surgery 3/27/2017 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left
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Oct 2, 2019 04:26PM WC3 wrote:

I abhor smoking. The smell/smoke makes me sick, I hate how so many tobacco product users litter, and I don't understand why people start.

That being said, while going through chemotherapy, I was unable to eat and drink many of the things I like, and I found myself reflecting on all of the Hostess Cupcakes I have eaten in my life, and wishing I ate more.

And there's nothing particularly addictive about Hostess Cupcakes.

I recall during that time I came across some tabloid ragging on British comedic genius Jennifer Saunders, for smoking after having finished treatment, like she was commiting some sin or something, and I couldn't help but to think (other than they should get off her back) that if I were a smoker, I would probably love that cigarette even more after going through breast cancer treatment, because life might be short and everyone needs some joy in it, and for some people, that source of joy might be a Hostess Cupcake and for others it might be a cigarette.


Dx 2018, IDC, Left, 3cm, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (FISH) Chemotherapy 5/31/2018 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery 11/14/2018 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant Targeted Therapy Perjeta (pertuzumab) Targeted Therapy Herceptin (trastuzumab)
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Oct 2, 2019 10:51PM - edited Oct 2, 2019 10:54PM by Bakerstreet

Bella'sMomToo, thank you for your great insight. Addictions are difficult to understand for people who don't have that particular one. According to my wife, I am addicted to reading BC forums and spending time researching which is partly true. She told me to stop it and here I am posting a new one. It helps me decompress when I share it with a community like BCO.But she is right.

WC3, you are right. Us, caregivers or supporters, do not understand the cancer patient's state of mind. My wife knows all of it and she is struggling and worrying sick has not done anything to make the situation better.

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Oct 3, 2019 06:44AM Betrayal wrote:

Bakerstreet:

There is a saying that "those who propose change, usually start with something that has little, if any, impact on their lifestyle". In this instance it is your campaign for your wife to quit smoking. From my perspective what your wife needs is your acceptance of the difficulties that she is experiencing and recognition of the challenges that the BC diagnosis has created. The stress this creates is immeasurable to those not having a "lived experience". Your wife doesn't need any additional stressors at this point in time. The motivation to quit smoking must be self-directed if it is to be successful, so let it be. The decision is hers to make so spying on her, fighting with her, etc. is counterproductive and may actually have a negative impact on your bond. It would if you were my spouse. Sorry to be so blunt but as a "caregiver" you need to focus on the "care" part and she has already set boundaries that you seem to disregard. Please listen to her message if you truly love her.

Dx 1/7/2016, DCIS/ILC/IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 2/1/2016 Lymph node removal: Sentinel Surgery 2/1/2016 Lumpectomy: Left Surgery 3/4/2016 Lumpectomy: Left Radiation Therapy 3/31/2016 Whole-breast: Breast Hormonal Therapy 6/25/2016 Arimidex (anastrozole) Hormonal Therapy 5/19/2017 Femara (letrozole)
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Oct 3, 2019 07:19AM LoriCA wrote:

Bakerstreet, smoking does not increase one's risk for breast cancer. It does increase the risk of lung cancer, throat cancer, mouth cancer, etc. but it is not a risk factor for breast cancer.

https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/risk_factors.htm

Of course all smokers should quit just for general health reasons and to prevent other cancers, but it's not fair to try to pressure her into quitting because of breast cancer, unless she has lung mets or other similar problems that make it an urgent need. You are asking her to quit at the hardest possible time - when she is under a tremendous amount of stress (and you can't be at her side helping her through it), and smoking undoubtedly provides her with some stress relief. I know it's only because you care about her and want her to do everything possible get better and to prevent a reoccurence, but she doesn't need any additional stress or guilt right now. She needs your love and support. In time she may decide to make some lifestyle changes and hopefully you will support her, but she needs to do it at her own pace.

IBC Stage IV de novo - mets throughout skeleton, liver, distant nodes, chest wall, skin, tumor in brachial nerves.Still trying to get it to slow down. Dx 9/8/2017, IBC, Right, Stage IV, metastasized to bone/liver/other, Grade 3, ER+/PR-, HER2+ (IHC) Chemotherapy 9/26/2017 Taxol (paclitaxel) Targeted Therapy 2/6/2018 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Targeted Therapy 2/6/2018 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Chemotherapy 11/26/2018 Taxol (paclitaxel) Radiation Therapy 1/30/2019 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes, Chest wall Targeted Therapy Kadcyla (T-DM1, ado-trastuzumab)
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Oct 3, 2019 09:52AM Jack-Bear wrote:

If I remember correctly, I learned in college that tobacco is more addictive than cocaine.

I have had my allergies tested & was told that I am allergic to tobacco. Sometimes the smell left behind is enough to give me an instantaneous migraine.

I have lost many family members to cancer & emphysema. I met my 'new husband' only 10 years ago. He wasn't a big smoker, but still a smoker. I watched my mom give dad a horrible time about smoking. I saw how counter productive her nagging & riot acts were. My husband knows that I wish he would quit. He also knows that I will not ask him to quit. It is his decision. He always smokes outside & when my allergies act up, I go to a different room. Quietly. No stomping or slamming of doors. I do not want to make it more difficult for him. NancyB
HeartMusic
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Oct 3, 2019 12:13PM Bakerstreet wrote:

Betrayal; you are absolutely right. I lose sight with the anxieties of this illness. I already caused her distress once so I won't repeat it. You all chiming in to tell me what the whole process feels like put things into perspective, thank you.

LoriCA; when she yelled at me, it made me realize that my concerns were further stressing her. Her friends calling me to tell me that, I wasn't spying, made me extra nervous I guess. But you are right, stress is worse than 2 cigarettes a day at this point.

NancyB; I wish I had your understanding. I really have a difficult time with addictions because my father is one, alcohol in his case, and I witnessed him losing a lot because of that. That fear comes back with my wife's condition. But everyone is absolutely right, I don't have the right to make her feel guilty. One loses their sense once they are scared.

Thank you all for your blunt comments, it helps and I don't mind being roasted when necessary.



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Oct 3, 2019 12:21PM Cowgirl13 wrote:

Bakerstreet, this is all about YOU and what you want. Forget that it is 'in her best interest' or that you are 'trying to be helpful'. I'm sorry but this makes me so mad to read. You have never been through breast cancer and I hope you will have the compassion to get off her case.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor each morning the Devil says: 'Oh crap! She's up! Dx 5/28/2009, IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Surgery 6/15/2009 Chemotherapy 8/2/2009 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Radiation Therapy 12/21/2009 Hormonal Therapy 2/22/2010 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Oct 3, 2019 12:32PM MelissaDallas wrote:

You are her husband, not her father. Nobody who does things that aren’t good for them is unaware of that fact. It is incredibly alienating to have people bitch at you about things like smoking and being overweight. People beat themselves up enough over it. They don’t need anyone else piling on and it is not at all helpful

LCIS, extensive sclerosing adenosis, TAH/BSO & partial omentectomy for mucinous borderline ovarian tumor.
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Oct 3, 2019 01:35PM Jack-Bear wrote:

Bakerstreet, My Dad went to his heavenly reward last November. My sister & I were with him. He had cancer, Emphysema, & needed bypass. I watched him working to breathe. I thought of my husband. Dad was Superman. He worked 2 full time jobs & volunteered. He retired & was working with the youth at his church & helping with basketball. We wanted him to come to Hawaii & go Kayaking with us. He would have loved it. I can see it! I watched my mother (& others) & Saw bowbeating & fighting doesn't work. I'm not strong. I love my new husband dearly. I don't want to relive that scenerio. But, I want to Love Him Unconditionally. Not always easy. I waited a long time for our love & don't want to harm it.

Hugs & prayers for you both

NancyB
HeartMusic
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Oct 3, 2019 02:38PM - edited Oct 3, 2019 02:39PM by MinusTwo

Baker - everyone who has told you to back off is exactly right. Whether it's weight or smoking or too much phone use, each person has to find their own way. You're setting her up for failure & then holding it against her. Try to put it out of your mind and stop obsessing about it. You have the right to ask her not to smoke in your home if it really bothers you, but if that's something new, even that is a big deal at the same time as going through cancer treatment.

Below is the BCO stop smoking thread. I don't recommend that you push it at her. But maybe you can read through some of it to get an idea how very hard quitting is. Yes - worse than cocaine. The hardest thing I've ever done. Most of us quit several times before it "takes". And even after 12 years (this time) there are still times I want to have a smoke. When she's ready, she'll figure it out - but not until...

https://community.breastcancer.org/forum/152/topic...

Edited to say - We don't mean to be harsh - this it just not something you can or should control.

2/15/11 BMX-DCIS 2SNB clear-TEs; 9/15/11-410gummies; 3/20/13 recurrance-5.5cm,mets to lymphs, Stage IIIB IDC ER/PRneg,HER2+; TCH/Perjeta/Neulasta x6; ALND 9/24/13 1/18 nodes 4.5cm; AC chemo 10/30/13 x3; herceptin again; Rads Feb2014
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Oct 3, 2019 10:48PM - edited Oct 3, 2019 10:53PM by SummerAngel

Just a couple of links for LoriCA: https://www.forbes.com/sites/victoriaforster/2017/11/23/smoking-can-increase-risk-of-breast-cancer-by-over-a-third/#75f902d75b61

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5348072/

I sympathize, Bakerstreet. It must be difficult for you, but I also agree that this isn't something you can fix for your spouse. I've been around people who were trying to quit and watching them makes me grateful for never having started. It's extremely difficult.

Age at dx: 45. Oncotype, left-side tumor: 9. Right side had multifocal IDC and "extensive" LCIS. Isolated tumor cells in 1 right-side node. Dx 4/3/2015, IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH) Dx 4/27/2015, IDC, Right, 1cm, Grade 1, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH) Surgery 6/1/2015 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right Surgery 6/1/2015 Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Surgery 8/28/2015 Reconstruction (left): Fat grafting, Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting, Silicone implant Surgery 12/4/2015 Reconstruction (left): Fat grafting, Nipple reconstruction; Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting, Nipple reconstruction
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Oct 4, 2019 12:30AM - edited Oct 4, 2019 12:32AM by LoriCA

SummerAngel the CDC article I linked to said that some studies suggest it may be a risk factor. Other studies have found no definitive correlation. The most recent information from the CDC, as well as the cancer.gov article that was linked in the article you posted do not list it as a definitive risk factor. In fact, if you read the actual study mentioned in your article, you'll find the following:

There was no raised risk of breast cancer with ever smoking in non-drinkers.

...the number of current smokers in our cohort was small, and this result did not reach statistical significance.

Alcohol consumption was associated with smoking and is itself a known risk factor for breast cancer. We adjusted for alcohol intake, and although this reduced the strength of the association between smoking and breast cancer...

We saw no significant association between smoking and breast cancer risk among non-drinkers.


Of course everyone should quit smoking for many health reasons, but I stand by my opinion that it's not worth starting arguments with someone who is currently dealing with breast cancer, especially when the spouses are separated by many miles. She has enough stress in her life right now. And if she's a drinker, it would reduce her risk more to quit/reduce alcohol.

IBC Stage IV de novo - mets throughout skeleton, liver, distant nodes, chest wall, skin, tumor in brachial nerves.Still trying to get it to slow down. Dx 9/8/2017, IBC, Right, Stage IV, metastasized to bone/liver/other, Grade 3, ER+/PR-, HER2+ (IHC) Chemotherapy 9/26/2017 Taxol (paclitaxel) Targeted Therapy 2/6/2018 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Targeted Therapy 2/6/2018 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Chemotherapy 11/26/2018 Taxol (paclitaxel) Radiation Therapy 1/30/2019 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes, Chest wall Targeted Therapy Kadcyla (T-DM1, ado-trastuzumab)
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Oct 4, 2019 03:00AM AliceBastable wrote:

My BS told me there's no connection between smoking and breast cancer. So I still relied on it for stress relief. Then, a few days after the lumpectomy, I found out I had kidney cancer. That one definitely has a smoking connection, and the urologist said I HAD to quit before surgery. So, with the help of the patch, I quit after almost a half century of smoking. It was easier than I thought, but I honestly don't think I could have done it without a serious health threat.

Endometrial cancer 2010, basal cell multiples, breast cancer 2018, kidney cancer 2018. Cancer's a bitch, but I'm a bigger one with more practice. Dx 5/2018, ILC/IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 1/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 7/11/2018 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Surgery 8/8/2018 Radiation Therapy 10/29/2018 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes
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Oct 4, 2019 03:11AM SummerAngel wrote:

I will only post once more, as this is not the appropriate place to debate this, but the conclusion of the study was, "In summary, it is reasonable to conclude that long-term cigarette smoking provides a clear risk for breast cancer and worsened disease. Several cohort studies have shown that longer duration, increased amount, and beginning age of smoking are associated with high risk of breast cancer."

Age at dx: 45. Oncotype, left-side tumor: 9. Right side had multifocal IDC and "extensive" LCIS. Isolated tumor cells in 1 right-side node. Dx 4/3/2015, IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH) Dx 4/27/2015, IDC, Right, 1cm, Grade 1, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH) Surgery 6/1/2015 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right Surgery 6/1/2015 Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Surgery 8/28/2015 Reconstruction (left): Fat grafting, Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting, Silicone implant Surgery 12/4/2015 Reconstruction (left): Fat grafting, Nipple reconstruction; Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting, Nipple reconstruction
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Oct 4, 2019 03:25AM Bakerstreet wrote:

MinusTwo: I understand where you are coming from. I respect the fight you put up to quit. It is really admirable but I am not speaking from a success/failure stance here. I hope she finds it in her one day to quit completely. I will read through the quit smoking thread, thank you.

SummerAngel and LoriCA, whether the risk comes through drinking or smoking alone, I guess the lesson for me here is to back off. I saw your points all. I am grateful for you taking time to give me your insight. Lorica, being miles away is one of the reasons why my anxiety peaked but it is not a reason to reflect that on her.



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Oct 4, 2019 05:28AM Jack-Bear wrote:

Bakerstreet, I hope I was not harsh. That was my last intent. NancyB
HeartMusic
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Oct 4, 2019 06:58AM Bakerstreet wrote:

NancyB,

Far from it. I am very open to criticism and to different perspectives. I came to this forum to ask for real, blunt advice and you all gave it to me. You ladies rock!

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Oct 4, 2019 07:05AM MinusTwo wrote:

Baker - hang in there. I'm sure it's really difficult to be on the 'outside' when a loved one is going through cancer treatment. And as you said, the distance doesn't help. Send her virtual hugs.

2/15/11 BMX-DCIS 2SNB clear-TEs; 9/15/11-410gummies; 3/20/13 recurrance-5.5cm,mets to lymphs, Stage IIIB IDC ER/PRneg,HER2+; TCH/Perjeta/Neulasta x6; ALND 9/24/13 1/18 nodes 4.5cm; AC chemo 10/30/13 x3; herceptin again; Rads Feb2014
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Oct 4, 2019 07:10AM Hopeful82014 wrote:

Bakerstreet - IF and when she decides to quit, it may help both of you to know that several studies have demonstrated that successfully quitting can take several tries. In other words, neither of you should give up hope if there's backsliding but rather reassess and resume the effort when ready. None of it will be in vain. Good luck to both of you.

Dx IDC
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Oct 4, 2019 12:25PM Bakerstreet wrote:

Thank you Hopeful8201 for your encouragement, I think it might take a couple of attempts.

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