I am in the same situation...my mother has been fighting lung cancer for 7 years and she still smokes. Not nearly as much as she did before she was diagnosed, and she's told the doctors she has quit but still smokes occassionally. The saddest thing she ever said to me was, "I know I should quit, I want to quit, but it's all I have left." And for her, through her cancer journey, it is a great stress reliever and calms her down. If you have seen the days of anxiety and stress and depression she goes through while she waits for her scan results, you'd hand her the cigarettes yourself. I wish she would stop, I do. I know smoking contributes to lung cancer. But millions of people smoke and only 200,000 get lung cancer. My grandmother smoked like a chimney until the day she died at 84 years old. So no one knows. My friends joke that maybe it's been the magic thing that's keeping her alive beyond all the stats. Who knows?
I know you see your mom smoking and think, it is a tangible thing you can blame for her cancer, and if she just stopped, she would be all right. Deep down, you know it's not so but you want to believe it is. Do I believe my sedentary lifestyle and crappy diet contributed to my rectal cancer? Sure do. But again, unfortunately, millions of people live sedentary lifestyles and have poor diets and only about 20,000 women a year get rectal cancer. I lost the roulette wheel on that one. Do I try to eat better? Yes, I try. Have I gone supernova and radically changed my diet and lifestyle? No. I think that's the other fallacy about having cancer. People think that you get this diagnosis and you are ready to change your life. Well, some people are and some people aren't.
Your mom is coping the best way she can. It is her fight in the end, and although it is hard for you, all you can really do is is be unconditionally loving and supportive. Believe me, the whole world is judging her everytime she lights up, and she doesn't need that from her daughter. I finally told my mother how I felt. I told her I didn't care that she couldn't quit for herself, but she had children and she should have thought of our health. My sister has asthma which I believe is directly related to second-hand smoke. She told me that yes, she wishes she was stronger and she could have quit for us but she didn't. I realized I had to accept my mother and love her for who she is, accept her weaknesses and foibles, and just thank God I have had so much time with her against the odds.
Spend the energy you have loving her instead of being mad and being grateful she's still around to fight. Of course you are angry, you love her. But it's not about the smoking. She's doing the best she can, and she can do better with your support, no matter how much it hurts or how angry you are. And who wouldn't be angry? She's lucky to have a daughter that cares so much. It's hard to sit back and know there really isn't anything you can do. But you can. You can love her for who she is and support her. She's going to do what she wants anyway.
Rectal cancer dx 11-07
Ostomy surgery 1-23-08
Radiation and Xeloda 2/08-4/08
APR and posterior exenteration 7/08
Start folfox 9/08 for 6 mos
Cancer spread to hilar and mediastinal lymph nodes April 09
Start IFL + Avastin June 09