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Family Is Very Disappointing

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scar1888
scar1888 Member Posts: 23
edited September 2020 in Stage III Breast Cancer

This is my first post but would like words of encouragement from anyone who's had major difficulty in getting along with family after cancer. I'm the single one of three girls,middle child, no children and a breast cancer survivor. My two sisters have really bonded since my diagnosis but then again, both are married and have children. They've never come to visit by themselves. We've fought about my weight gain, a huge 'image problem' in my family and them NOT believing I have trouble driving over 5-6 hours in order to visit them and family. Screaming about me having to spend the night because I get so sleepy. (I have sleep apnea.) I'm shocked at the lack of love, empathy and support from them. Very disappointing.

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  • kira1234
    kira1234 Member Posts: 754
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    Unfortunately family can be extremely hurful. I hope it's because they really don't know how to help. I chose to look at it that way

    I'm fortunately married to a wonderful man and have supportive children.

    If I were you I'd reach out to friends the church if you go

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 13,078
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    scar- sorry that your sisters are not supportive - to say the least. You don't have to listen to their nastiness, since it only makes you more anxious. Lots of us have moved away from our families, both figuratively & literally. I made sure to keep mine distant & only schedule visits that I could control. Hope you have some good friends that are standing by you.

  • scar88
    scar88 Member Posts: 9
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    Thank you Kira! I've joined a bible study on Wed nights since I'm definitely not a morning person at all any more!

    Hoping to make more friends and broaden my friendships!~

  • scar88
    scar88 Member Posts: 9
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    Yes MinusTwo! Have drawn a FIRM boundary in the last couple of months and feel a bit like a weight has been lifted. I decide when and where I am going anywhere from now on..........it's called making boundaries in order to survive. Thank you.

  • Artista928
    Artista928 Member Posts: 1,458
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    Sorry to hear. I feared this from my fam so they don't know except for my bro who is supportive. I never plan on telling them. Don't need the headache. If they can't be nice, then don't show up. Too bad it may come to that but you can't be in a negative situation. GL

  • kira1234
    kira1234 Member Posts: 754
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    excellent scar. An excellent first start. I'm here as well. Just send me a message

  • lkc
    lkc Member Posts: 180
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    hi sweetie, I experienced a lot of crap from my family members back when I was dxed. I ve come to accept that that they were unable or simply could not deal with the whole C thing,

    Now 12 yrs later , I can put in behind me. And understand it.

    My advice is, seek out those who are supportive, it does not mean family ( in my case no) and hang onto those positive friends. It's a hard time for you, and just remember it's their fear. That is distancing you.

    My best to you

  • TectonicShift
    TectonicShift Member Posts: 102
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  • scar88
    scar88 Member Posts: 9
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    Pardon the soap opera.......Thank you so much for your support. The latest. I voiced my upset, disappointment, anger with a friend who's a friend of my sister's and mine. She promised always to keep it all to herself. Well, on Mother's Day I was shot hateful looks from my sister because I was in my gown and robe and not dressed up, had laid down after a three hour drive to get to mom's, which is very hard for me. I called our mutual friend and told her everything; crying, angry. This sister lives a very rigid life style. She gets to my mother's more but has the income to fly and I just don't. Have to drive six hours.

    After the week-end my sister called this friend and said that I was 'difficult' and that I was 'argumentative' with our mother. I did talk to my elderly mom about getting some extra help but not pushy ...... she gets mad that I have a hard time pushing mom in a wheelchair, gets mad at anything I prepare for mom for a meal (not good enough) gets mad if I don't feel like traveling to stay with mom when my sister goes away.......meanwhile mom refuses to get extra help.

    This friend, a doctor, let my sister have it and told her she had no clue what I'd been through, that it was very hard being single esp with heath problems ( have a couple other ) and so now my big sister is not speaking to me.

    I need to let them all go but..........how do you stop being around family.

    Too top it off AFTER THIS W'END my sister was furious that I would not go to lunch with her on my birthday........after the way she'd acted. I refused and told her I had other plans. She was driving through on her way home. I can't be around people who bad mouth me to me, make constant passive aggressive comments to me, talk nasty about me to my family members. Barely have any relationship with my nieces now. Well, not barely but none at all to be quite honest. She's turned the whole family against me. You are very kind to listen. This kind of thing has gone on almost 20 years. Sisters will not come to visit me but get mad if I don't travel to see them or see my mother.

    Dx in '97. Very serious high grade invasive. One cm tumor and 22 l nodes removed. four were postive. Left mastectomy and tram/ not positive results at all. Eight hour surgery then tissue began to die and had another eight hour surgery. 12 chemos adryamycin, 5 FU, cytoxan then 35 rads. In 08 found positive for BRCA II gene and month later hysterectomy and right breast removed. Had friends help me with surgery. Did not tell family in order to avoid upset, anger, chaos. Keeping eye on tiny spot on left lung. Not changed since last pet scan. Suffer MAJOR fatigue 24/7 but know after almost 20 years I am very very blessed.

  • MargM
    MargM Member Posts: 6
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    Boundaries are important. Hard to figure out if your family has never had them, but you are not selfish, lazy, ignorant, simple minded, or any of the other stereotypes thrown at people who are not fully healthy, well cared for, and financially stable.

  • scar88
    scar88 Member Posts: 9
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    You're right. The family has not had proper boundaries but illness certainly, pretty much, left me out. Sisters are both married with children and I'm single with no children. They have much more in common but have never come to see me, in twenty years without their husbands and this is maybe four or five times......perhaps one night. I am expected to do the five hour trip in order to visit and getting older, I just can't do it as much any more and then they get angry? Complicated. Don't mean to complain but life did a 180 for sure. I am very very blessed to still be here! Thank you for your kind words MargM!

    Write back if you like. Enjoy hearing from kind folks on this board.

    Night.

  • Jennie93
    Jennie93 Member Posts: 263
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    scar, there is no way I could make a 5-hour trip, after what cancer treatments have done to my body. Maybe if there was some kind of emergency. But surely not for a visit with someone who sounds like no fun at all. I would simply explain to them that cancer treatment has damaged your body and driving that long is physically impossible now, but they are welcome to visit you any time. (And then hope they don't. lol)



  • TectonicShift
    TectonicShift Member Posts: 102
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  • Shenanigans08
    Shenanigans08 Member Posts: 9
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    I'm always pleasantly surprised when I find yet another thread here which hits home with me. Scar thank you so much for starting this.

    I'm less than two weeks from a bilateral mastectomy (Nov 3rd) and current dealing with family that are making my cancer about them. My parents will not be there for my surgery since they have a reunion to attend out of state :( My mom and I have always had a challenging relationship prior to cancer. However I had hoped that cancer would give us a fresh start and bring us closer. Unfortunately she has shown her true colors and made this journey even more challenging to handle than it already is. I would really appreciate any advice of how to handle a selfish family? I am not a confrontational person especially with my family. I find it hard right now to focus on myself when I'm being criticized not matter what I do! My mother keeps saying that the family is affected by my cancer but I keeping think no they aren't! The family gets to step away and continue to live their lives whereas I live this day in and day out! If is wasn't for my husband who is my rock and extremely protective of me expecially with my family I would slowly go insane.

  • youngturknyc
    youngturknyc Member Posts: 115
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    Image result for cancer circle of support

  • youngturknyc
    youngturknyc Member Posts: 115
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    Shenanigans,

    I attached the "comfort in - dump out" chart above. You are in the middle of that circle, and absolutely nobody should make you feel like this is more about them than it is about you. If anybody has a tendency of not being supportive or makes cancer about them, I would recommend that you minimize your contact with such person. That was the approach I took.

  • TectonicShift
    TectonicShift Member Posts: 102
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  • Shenanigans08
    Shenanigans08 Member Posts: 9
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    YoungTurkNYC - Thank you so much for your post. I hear the same thing from friends and other family. The only ones that have a distorted view of the situation seems to be the ones that are the least supportive. I'm working on being selfish and focusing on me with my surgery this friday. I need to be as positive as I can be and I can't get into that state of mind with my parents. It actually has been a hidden blessing that they will not be here for this surgery!. Thanks again for the support. This community is keeping me balanced! :)

  • eastcoastts
    eastcoastts Member Posts: 352
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    Shenanigans:

    Good luck with surgery!

    I've had to cut out family since diagnosis. Or limit communication. (Brother mostly -- but his kids aren't much better.) But you know what? I think I made excuses for them before and just put up with their bul*sh*t. Now? I'm not willing to do that. And if they have proven to not be there for me...that is a big statement for my future with them. It's actually been liberating. Go figure.

    Make it all about you right now. Because it is.

  • Shenanigans08
    Shenanigans08 Member Posts: 9
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    Thanks EastcoastTS. You are right. I've made excuses for years because I guess I didn't have a good enough excuse to argue with them. But now there is no good enough excuse to make it ok how they are acting. I'm just still shocked that they would not see my perspective and even more that I've had to have the conversation with them. I shouldn't have to tell people/family to unconditionally support. The ones in my life that do make it about me are the balance I need right now. This week is going to be a challenge to get through. As much as I try I'm having a hard time getting focused on myself. Any suggestions for some pre-surgery relaxation that may help?

  • Faithonfire
    Faithonfire Member Posts: 26
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    I am so glad I found this thread! I have been facing this issue since I was diagnosed in June and I came to stay with my mom and use the same team of doctors that cured her several years earlier. She is a 3 time survivor or colon breast and skin cancer so I can't imagine anyone better to teach me how to survive this!

    My husband and 3 teenagers were not at all supportive because they viewed me choosing to use her doctors and not stay at home as complete abandonment and refuse to speak to me now.

    I struggled so hard to attain my diagnosis because I always put myself last and kept up the insanity of a part time job, schools their schedules doctor visits for 4 an absentee husband emotionally and me getting weaker by the day as I am called lazy, crazy, selfish drama queen for not being as strong as they wish me to be.

    We all knew I was sick, and ptsd aside it was my biggest shock after I found out and told them I had breast cancer and my kids called me a liar! They could not believe that it was true and refused to see me or hug me goodbye because they said I did not deserve that for abandoning them during diagnostics I kept away from my phone for a few weeks because I had bit of a setback and had to focus on myself only and I have never done that before so I understand they are upset and looking to control their circumstances but I have raised them better than that!

    It was my worst nightmare to watch this all unfold in may because I was completely unable to acquire the level of professional qualified care needed to cure me at home!

    I live in the worst state on the planet for needing state services of ANY kind and one of the most crowded expensive states in the country just raised gas tax 23c a gallon this year instead of raising minimum wage as promised! Instead they took the tax increase fund from children education program and turned it into a universal slush fund for fixing our state road and bridges! Nj is the ONLY state you are grateful to pay 5 bucks to get out the only bridges left standing!

    Financially there was no way for our family to withstand the impact of me and my husband out of work only he gets disability on top of extra travel and copay fees we could never afford to get to treatment that I cannot afford to miss and not die!

    There are no quality mental health programs in place that take any insurance at all, and the few that do are overcrowded and booking over 6 months out for first appointment because the state wants to shove everyone through a battered emergency room straight to a minimum 30 day lockdown facility focused on addiction treatment instead of mental health treatment for ptsd. It's one big body farm with a revolving door and I've been misdiagnosed and lied to for profit enough thanks!

    So I did the only thing I could and came out to stay with mom and my brother who takes care of her since we lost dad to colon cancer.

    I can't tell you how many members of our family have or have had cancer recently in our genetics report as we all add to it that has blessed us with greater understanding and love to heal better together through the same cancer center with that we are learning about each other. I do not look forward to the day I hand this down to my kids but it is worth so much more than every tear I cried to accomplish that. One day they will understand and until that day comes I already forgive them.

    I am unable to not try to talk to them because of my separation anxiety but I just text once in a while and don't expect to hear anything back. It is entirely possible to love someone and not like them or what they choose to do.

    I sent a picture of myself doing treatment all bald to prove I'm not out partying and telling the truth about my time away and my son told me to Rest In Peace. Not a chance little man! Of all the family who has had cancer, it's not what most of them died from! It's treatable only if you face it!

    My biggest mistake was thinking that once the image made it real for them that this is true and I cannot control it that they would have mercy on me and all would be forgiven in time for us to make things right for all of us finally. That is what I will keep praying for anyway.

    I really counted on my husband to have my back on this and let's just say he doesn't! It's unite against the common enemy so I get to be cool instead of a responsible parent trick. See I'm NOT their friend, I'm their MOM! I look forward to the day we get to be friends as adults but that is decades away from now!!

    He had to step up and fill my shoes on the front lines and that was me abandoning him. Funny how it wasn't him abandoning me when I had no help at all when he was at work or "out" when we were up to 3 kids and down to one car. He still got off light in my opinion because teenagers can be bribed to do chores instead of trying to change diapers for 3 kids getting in to everything constantly!

    I'd give my life for any one of them to this day because my love for them is unconditional. That does NOT mean I should have to in order to be deemed worthy of their love and support! The shame of knowing that is what fuels their silent rage, and while I do forgive them for what they are feeling but I will not be made to believe it is acceptable or tolerate any abuse of my condition from them.

    I dread the holidays more than you can imagine, filled with birthdays to boot so I am hanging in and laying low for my last 5 treatments then double mastectomy and reconstruction about 7 weeks out of all goes well scheduling teams to work together.

    Thank you all for letting me share with you, it helps me so much I hope you can find a ray or two of hope in there also! Good luck to us all

  • Faithonfire
    Faithonfire Member Posts: 26
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    oh, shenanigans

    I wanted to let you know about a great pain management option I just started using and it might be useful after surgery in combination with pain pills. I am using a lydocane 5% adhesive patch for bruised ribs good for 12 hrs per patch and it really helps unlock the muscles and nerves to speed healing and avoid breakthrough pain.

    I've also heard from Fox News that there is a new post reconstruction bra in the testing phase with a heat feature like an electric blanket instead of traditional cold therapy like gel packs that is not working as well as projected in recovery results. I know they had a link for the survey to qualify for it under health news. They are looking for 45 and up recently reconstructed double mastectomy. I'm a tad below the age line on that but am a size d to start with so I'm waiting to hear back if I can join the study or not.

    Meanwhile I highly recommend using palmers skin therapy oil. It's argon oil so it will make you sun sensitive but utterly remarkable results over plain baby oil! I have used this for years on stretch marks for pregnancy and weight loss and it is the best way for me to feel comfortable in my own skin as my body goes nuts temporarily!

    I've always gone for gradual heat therapy for surgery recovery and found that I heal much faster and scar less keeping oil on with loose gauze for bed. Hope that helps you, and best of luck with surgery

  • TectonicShift
    TectonicShift Member Posts: 102
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  • Shenanigans08
    Shenanigans08 Member Posts: 9
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    Faithonfire,

    Thanks so much for the suggestions. Not sure what I can use right now. I'm about 2 wks out after surgery. 2 of 4 drains have been removed. Hopefully the last 2 drains will come out tomorrow or Monday. I've had some serious blister develop from the tape the dr used after surgery so as soon as I get the ok to use stuff on my skin I'll try the palmers.

    Surgery went well and pathology came back good as well. The toughest thing right now is trying to feel like myself when I look this way. My husband is amazing and tries to get me to look past the current state and focus on the next phase in reconstruction but its hard when that is a couple months out.

    Family has not gotten any better, but on the upside my friends and coworkers have been amazing and are keeping me sane.

    Keep strong ladies!! Love you to you all :) We are warriors and are stronger for what we have had to endure!!

  • Faithonfire
    Faithonfire Member Posts: 26
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    thanks so much ladies it really keeps me strong in nights like this,

    I was promised a phone call from my husband for days and then every day he picks a fight to justify blame and bolt tactics like texts can't talk now until the entire day passes as I keep texting and get NO response at all and it's all my fault he refuses to honor his word and call like he promised to or support me in ANY way as he blames me for not trying while I am in chemotherapy!

    For every decent human being alive to wish this man ALL the pain shame and humiliation he puts me through for loving my husband and children and begging every day just to hear them say that to me too instead of calling me a liar and denying I love them every time I get to say it.

    Even my therapist is at a loss for words on this one because he knows it's just not in me to give up on them.

    I'm hoping a little karmic justice and social outrage will be enough to restore my faith in life enough to continue to fight for it.

    I know that's mean and selfish of me but I can't help how powerful the feeling is, even if I know I am a better person than that.

    My husband used to be, until he was convinced he could get away with this, and so far he HAS. I'm terrified of the holidays so I am just taking it one day at a time for now.

    Shenanigans I am really glad you are doing so well after surgery I am so happy for you! You hug your loving man and tell him it's nice to know they still exist and knowing he takes care of you better than mine ever will makes me so happy for you both and helps me remember what it was like to feel loved by my husband too before he became a monster when I had to leave to get treatment.

    How vile of a man can convince his own children that their mother does not love them and abandoned them so how they treat me is totally fine because I deserve bullying instead of mercy or emotional support. I'm the one who is sick and still don't deserve any apology or to EVER come first to them. I am ashamed of them claiming to be better off without me, and can't wait to show up as soon as I am healthy enough to surprise them all someday.

  • IntegraGirl
    IntegraGirl Member Posts: 48
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    My experience has been that times of great stress make people more of who they truly are and if they are inherently selfish assholes, that's what you get.

    On my first day home from hospital after my BMX at the beginning of September, my Mom was coming in for a front hug and I said "please don't touch me" because I was in a great deal of pain. She flipped out and started screaming at me for being selfish and not paying her enough attention when I was in hospital which hurt her feelings. She stormed out of my house and slammed the door.

    She took over five months to physically see me after I was diagnosed in January.

    I'm an only child. Our relationship has never been great but I have visited regularly and made sure she has anything she needs including buying her a house, of which I'm still paying the mortgage.

    Now she wants to know if I'm coming for Christmas. I never want to see her again.

  • HoneyBadger47
    HoneyBadger47 Member Posts: 45
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    IntegraGirl,

    Holy crap! I think you are right about people showing true colors under stress.

    Good job setting boundaries. I am not suggesting you neversee her again (unless that is what you need for wellbeing) but I would politely tell her (via text) that you will not be there because you very much need your rest right now.

  • IntegraGirl
    IntegraGirl Member Posts: 48
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    Thanks HoneyBadger. I don't know what I'm going to do yet.

    On the flip side of the family coin is my 80 year old aunt who rarely leaves her community showed up on my doorstep unannounced the very next day bearing homemadesoup and baking :). She stayed for three days cooking for me and puttering around my yard doing what I couldn't. My mom and my aunt live in the same village 4 hours away from my house. I very much want to spend time with my wonderful aunt and the rest of her family who have been very supportive but can't do that without staying with my Mom.

    So much awkward....

  • HoneyBadger47
    HoneyBadger47 Member Posts: 45
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    IntegraGirl,

    Your aunt sounds like a very special lady. I’m so glad you have her and other family support.

    That is a tough one, but I suppose why punish yourself and the rest of the family for your mom’s poor behavior? Sounds like you are able to tune her out if she acts poorly and if you are able to do that, go for it!

    Let us know what you decide and how it goes!

  • Faithonfire
    Faithonfire Member Posts: 26
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    hi honey badger, instagirl,

    I just got back from the hospital after surgery and wanted to tell of the great success we had with banking nipples above my c-scars for later reattachment! I am now a teaching case for the procedure and it looks like we got almost total response to chemotherapy but still awaiting reports from pathology and genetics as requests are pouring in for data or even a quick peek but I'm wrapped very well and that stays put until next week when surgeon shows me where we went with placement of scars and drains.

    My pain was managed very well and we had the best response to the whole skin saving process also and that makes me happier than I have been since I was first diagnosed!

    My mom and brother took me in and saw to every detail for me so I could heal and not stress anymore after my husband was being a total selfish jerk for the holidays I wasted down to 115 because I was made to cry so hard I threw up one time too many!

    I had my hopes raised and crushed between weeks of silence and demanding texts but not a single pic of our kids Christmas, New Years or sons birthday.

    I'm getting more emails from teachers saying my freshmans grades are falling and she's skipping school with her driving sister now too! No wonder nobody wants to talk to me these days now that the cat is out of the bag!

    I am so well loved from the rest of my family and friends surrounding me with prayers and best wishes for a speedy recovery it keeps me hopeful for my future one day at a time!