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My teen's best friend's Mom

Hello. I just learned last night that a dear friend of mine was diagnosed a month ago with Stage 4 lung cancer. She told me because 4 nights ago, she and her husband finally shared the news with their teen daughters, one of them being the best friend of my teen. None of the teens know the severity at this point. My friend has asked that my daughter lends support to her best friend, and of course for me to help bring that support. It's been suggested to me by someone that I join this forum to also receive support- I have questions like: do I tell my daughter the severity before her best friend knows? I am thinking not. Any other advice on any level would be hugely appreciated.

9 Replies
Runner Girl
3153 Posts

@Friend of B
Hello and welcome.

I am thinking you don't tell your daughter before her friend knows her mom's status.

I'd also like to introduce you to a couple of our Stage 4 Lung Cancer people who are living with their disease @Kuching and @WestCoastSailor

Stage 4 is not always an immediate death sentence, there are wonderful treatments now, so there is hope.

8709 Posts

@Friend of B welcome and so sorry for your friend's diagnosis. Thank you for reaching out and posting on behalf of your friend, her family as well as yours. Your friend is so lucky to have you as a support, as her daughter is so lucky to have your daughter as well. In order to offer support, it might be good for you first to sort out your own feelings. You need to be well emotionally before you can support someone else. Perhaps talking out your emotions and fears with a counselor can help you and perhaps your daughter as well. You and she can talk to a counselor. .. there are also guidance counselor and social workers assigned to all schools. The daughter of your friend and your friend will want to talk with someone too. I'm not sure about telling your daughter the severity of the situation. .perhaps wait until you find out more information…but I dont want to advise either way. There are many ways to support your friend, but the main one is just simply to BE there. Listen to her, laugh with her, cry with her, spend time with her…and the practical of course. Send carepackages, groceries, offer to drive to treatment, ,visit, prep and freeze meals for her. And your daughter can help out with the same type of things, spending time with her friend. offering to go to school guidance counselor/social worker with her….take notes for her in school if she has to miss classes… take her friend out for funny movie, ice cream (dairy queen) . All kinds of ways to show support. How is your friend coping with this news? The social worker in oncology is a great resource, as well as the cancer info line if anyone needs someone to talk to or to get added resources the family may need. 1 888 939 3333. I'm so sorry you are all in this situation . Cancer not only affects the patient but everyone who cares for the person. Thanks again for reaching out and let us know how each of you is doing.

Thank you so much for replying. I am very grateful. You saying there may be hope means more than you know. It's all so fresh for me and I am absorbing it all and don't have a ton of info because I think I was in so much shock when my friend B told me last night.. And when I hear Stage 4 and lung cancer together, I have been feeling pretty defeated. So just to hear that there are amazing treatments and not necessarily a death sentence helps to lighten my sadness at this moment. Thank you kindly for your response and for the referrals, I am very grateful.

@Brighty I am choked up, so touched that you took the time to write me all that. Thank you. You gave such amazing tips, I will definitely do all that you have suggested, wow. Yes I think I need some time to understand some facts and to process my own emotions- I guess I worry I am on a heavy time crunch so feel like I am just being as proactive as possible. Today I have asked my friend B for her best friend's contact info to see how I can lend support in any way ( I will see if there is already a system for groceries and meals for example)(and to also learn from her as it may be easier for me to grasp info (I was so in shock when I spoke with B last night)).

459 Posts
@Friend of B
You are a good friend indeed, to care so much. I hope it will cheer you up a bit to hear that I have had Stage 4 lung cancer for 3 1/2 years now, and I still go hiking, kayaking, and pretty much live a normal life. And I am by no means the only one in that situation. Please tell your friend not to look at the survival statistics for lung cancer online, because they are seriously out of date. It is no longer a death sentence, more like a chronic disease, and there are a lot of new treatments out there. Once she has had all the tests and gets a treatment plan, things will settle down - all the waiting for results, and “what if’s” at the beginning are the worst part!

@Friend of B

A friend indeed. That she chose to share this devastating diagnosis with you so early in her journey is a gift. But for you it can be a wee bit overwhelming.

This journey is going to have some phases to it. The early phase is around treatment. As others have said treatments have advanced incredibly in the realm of lung cancer. The waiting to see how this is going to fall out takes tremendous patience. But once it is in place it can be a bit of a whirlwind. And here a lot of practical pieces of assistance can be helpful. At stage 4 it is unlikely to be surgery but there may be radiation and almost certainly will involve chemotherapy. Supporting with rides and meals and just presence can be helpful. But for some treatment is a daily pill. The mental anguish around whether or not this is working can be huge. Until that first set of scan results comes back with “shrinking or stable” the mind goes places that are just scarey. Trying to be present is perhaps the most important thing. Listening to fears, allowing her a space to talk about final arrangements or legal matters like a will without running away can be powerful signs of friendship.

Then comes the wonderful phase that I call “living while dying” You are stable or in remission - occasionally it even becomes NED - no evidence of disease - and you feel normal but you have this knowledge that in the end your life is going to be limited. Being with a friend in this part is rewarding but challenging. Again they may want to talk about hard things and giving the space to do that without judgement can be the greatest gift you can give. Helping her achieve things that she wants to do that involve legacy and memories are important here.

The final stage is the really hard one. I hope it is many years in the future. When it becomes apparent that the journey is coming to an end. Our culture has a hard time with this. But the loss of functionality, the need for supports like oxygen and help with daily routines can offer again opportunities to support your friend.

Involving your daughter in this will be hard. If you face it with a positive attitude and kindness though that will shine through and carry you both through what can be an wonderful learning experience.

So one last piece. Listen to the first few episodes of the #waitingroomrevolution podcast. When it talks about putting a support team together, realize that this is the piece that you have been invited to join. @Trillium has a link over here. https://cancerconnection.ca/discussions/viewtopic/35/72288#p386597

Blessing and grace to you as you embark on this adventure.


Runner Girl
3153 Posts

@Friend of B I wanted to add that @WestCoastSailor is a 4.5 year stage 4 lung cancer survivor. A couple of us breast cancer ladies encouraged him to take up running and so he has.

@Kuching You're incredible to share that with me. To hear from someone who has been living a pretty much normal life with stage 4 lung cancer,..just wow, thank you. How amazing you are, undefeated fighter. I feel like it's an honour to hear from you!!! And thank you, yes, they need to seriously change the info that's online. I couldn't read it myself, but I've been told about the statistics. Thank you so much.

@WestCoastSailor thank you so very much for summarizing all that for me. I feel brand new to this world and I really appreciate you taking the time to share all of the above with me. Yes B has had many rounds of radiation and has just started chemo. Your words help to make it all more digestible and makes me feel much stronger and I am definitely believing all the more in my initial gut reaction, which is that the journey is starting, not ending. I will check the resources that you had sent, thank you very much Angus.

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