Educating Others and Processing Loss
- Selling Sunset star Chrishell Stause is reminding her followers to prioritize checkups and second opinions after losing both of her parents to cancer. She lost her mother to stage 4 lung cancer in July 2020 and her father to the same disease in April 2019.
- Diagnosis and treatment of the lung cancer can be tricky since symptoms often don’t appear until the cancer has spread.
- Stage 4 lung cancer, also referred to advanced lung cancer, means the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
- Grief is an unavoidable and essential part of the healing process following the loss of a loved one to cancer. Everyone’s path of coping looks different. But things like time, therapy and support groups can help as you navigate the journey of grief.
The 40-year-old television star lost her mother to stage 4 lung cancer in July 2020 and her father to the same disease in April 2019.Read More
In a recent Instagram post, Stause shared some photos of her parents and acknowledged that it had been exactly two years since her mother received her lung cancer diagnosis.
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“PLEASE get your checkups and second opinions,” she urged in her caption. “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wish we caught [her mother’s cancer] sooner so we could have maybe had more time together. My heart is with all of you that have lost someone to this terrible disease.”
Knowing the pain of losing loved ones too soon, she ended her caption with some sincere, heartfelt advice.
“I wish we took more pictures and videos when we were together. I wish I didn’t hold a grudge so long on things when they were just trying their best,” she wrote. “If anyone is reading this and mad at a loved one- Life is truly too short. Please let it go if you can. Try and see things from where they are coming from and the tools that they have. I miss you everyday.”
Understanding Lung Cancer
Lung cancer, the second most common type of cancer, is the leading cause of cancer deaths for men and women in the United States. Diagnosis and treatment of the disease can be tricky since symptoms often don’t appear until the cancer has spread. An initial symptom, for example, could be as serious as a seizure if the lung cancer has already spread to the brain. But other symptoms can include increased coughing, chest pain, unexplained weight loss, shortness of breath, wheezing, losing your voice or persistent infections like bronchitis or pneumonia.
The two main types of lung cancer are non-small cell, which makes up 85 percent of cases, and small-cell. These types act differently and, accordingly, require different types of treatment. Dr. Patrick Forde, a thoracic oncologist at Johns Hopkins Medicine, previously told SurvivorNet about how distinguishing between the two types – and their subtypes – is beneficial.
“Within that non-small cell category, there’s a subtype called non-squamous adenocarcinoma, and that’s the group of patients for whom genetic testing is very important on the tumor,” he explains. “Genetic testing is looking for mutations in the DNA, in the tumor, which are not present in your normal DNA.”
What Is Stage Four Lung Cancer?
Stage 4 lung cancer, also referred to advanced lung cancer, means the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. The goal of treatment is to eliminate any remnant of cancer in the body, and chemotherapy has long been the standard for advanced lung cancer patients. However, seeing as chemotherapy quickly targets and kills cells, including healthy cells, researchers have been discovering treatment options which will leave healthy cells in tact.
Treatment options besides chemotherapy can include targeted therapies (also known as precision medicine), radiation, immunotherapy, or surgery. Ultimately, the goal of treatment is to attempt to remove all signs of the disease.
“Stage 4 is a difficult diagnosis for people to get,” Dr. Raja Flores, chairman of the Department of Thoracic Surgery for the Mount Sinai Health System, previously told SurvivorNet. “Now, you have to realize stage 4 does not mean death. You can have stage 4s who are alive 8, 9, 10 years later. You have to make sure that they understand it’s not a death sentence. It’s very important to take things step by step.”
Losing a Loved One to Cancer
Grief is an inevitable – and essential – part of the healing process after losing a loved one to cancer. And there’s definitely no one way to cope, but Doug Wendt shared his thoughts on grief in a previous interview with SurvivorNet after losing his wife Alice to ovarian cancer.
“We’re never gonna move on, I don’t even think I want to move on, but I do want to move forward,” Wendt said. “That’s an important distinction, and I encourage anybody who goes through this journey as a caregiver and then has to face loss, to think very carefully about how to move forward.”
Everyone’s journey of grief looks different, but therapy and support groups can also be wonderful options to explore. It’s also important to keep in mind that time does not heal everything, but it certainly helps.
In an earlier interview with SurvivorNet, Camila Legaspi shared her own advice on grief after her mother died of breast cancer. For her, therapy made all the difference.
“Therapy saved my life,” Legaspi said. “I was dealing with some really intense anxiety and depression at that point. It just changed my life, because I was so drained by all the negativity that was going on. Going to a therapist helped me realize that there was still so much out there for me, that I still had my family, that I still had my siblings.”
Legaspi also wanted to remind people that even though it can be an incredibly difficult experience to process, things will get better.
“When you lose someone, it’s really, really, really hard,” Legaspi said. “I’m so happy that I talked to my therapist. Keep your chin up, and it’s going to be OK. No matter what happens, it’s going to be OK.”
Contributing: Shelby Black