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Letting go of frustrations
2 Posts
Hi friends:

Curious if anyone else ever feels frustration when the person they are caring for/person with cancer they are close to does not do the things they are suggested to do to improve their health?

As an example, my mother has MBC to bones and she has a physiotherapist that comes to her home to improve her mobility with the goal of getting her walking again. She has not been doing the exercises as consistently as recommended. She often asks my father to get things for her instead of getting up to get them herself and he always gets the item for her.

I suggested she get up once or twice more per day out of her chair to get things but she hasn’t. In a way I think my father enables her to not try.

I know she has aches and pains and she does take scheduled pain medication that has been effective for her.

I guess my frustration is that I truly believe that if she doesn’t make more effort that she will be walker and/wheelchair bound indefinitely. I know it’s not my life but I’m frustrated.

My mother is in her early seventies and I just would hate to see her frailty increase and I would love to see her walk unassisted again.

7 Replies
8591 Posts

@josiejosie I hear you josie. I'm so sorry. My situation was totally different but I get your frustration totally. I took care of my fiance during his cancer. With my situation, my fiance was told by doctors not to smoke or drink during treatment or after surgery. He continued to defy doctors orders and smoked and drank all through treatment…and snuck cigarettes into the ICU before his big surgery. After treatment he insisted I stop at the liquor store for alcohol. If I didnt, he was going to go get it anyway. Sure enough, he found a way to get it. Nothing I said or did was going to stop this. It is so hard to care for someone who does the exact opposite of what they are supposed to do to get better. My fiance was a very stubborn person but I loved him very much. My friends and family wondered why I continued to care for someone who defied every single order from tbe doctor. Like, what was the point? No matter what though, I was not giving up on him. You might want to sit down with the whole family together and have a talk. Tell your mom how much she means to all of you and everything you do and say is for best for her . And it's out of love for her. If you have to get a social worker involved, not a bad idea. We do what we can for those we love. I hope your mom will listen and do her exercises . If not, you can at least feel good you tried your best.

4 Posts


I understand your feeling; it is difficult to continue the treatments with a stubborn person. Hope for the best.

2100 Posts

@josiejosie it’s hard to watch for sure…

I remember having physiotherapy some years ago after a car accident. The physio set me a program and we agreed what additional exercise I would do (I went to the gym for stress relief at lunchtimes). After a couple of weeks the pain was worse and I was not in good shape. We went through my daily routine…turns out physiotherapists expect you to do about 20% of what they prescribe so I was over doing it. What I’m saying is on the physiotherapy advice don’t worry too much.

However, frailty is a real issue in the elderly (and it starts in our 30’s unless we exercise to prevent it) and she absolutely should be doing things for herself if the pain is being managed…

I know some Cancer centres and the Y offer programs for cancer patient - chair exercises, lifting light weight, mobility and flexibility sessions. Perhaps there’s a class she could take to get out of the house and it not be a cancer related appointment, meet some other cancer patients, and do something for her body…

I fully get the frustration with our parents. my mother rejects any suggestion from her children without consideration. I have learned to talk about things and lead the conversation so that she comes to the idea herself (I know that sounds manipulative, but it’s more coaching)…

How are you doing today?

best, Essjay

221 Posts

@josiejosie Yes, totally get it. I looked after my mom when she was diagnosed with lung cancer. There were a few things she did or didn’t do along the way that I disagreed with for sure! @Brighty has a good suggestion in the family sit-down. It’s a hard conversation to have but at least everyone will know who is thinking what. Your mom may not have the energy or may just forget about the pills. Your dad just wants to make it easier on your mom and so gets things for her. You love your mom and want her to live longer. All of it will be perfectly reasonable or understandable.

The bottom line is it’s her choice, good or bad. And once you’ve all shared your thoughts, some things may change or they may not. At that point, you’ve done your best and you carry on, whether she takes the pills or does the physio or not. I found it best to pick my battles and let the rest go. Otherwise I was the one upset and miserable.

Take care of yourself,


Cynthia Mac
4127 Posts
josiejosie‍ Yup. Been there. I cared for my Dad when he had lung cancer. Lifelong smoker. Took him out to buy patches, threw them out after he started smoking 8 weeks after surgery. It’s frustrating. I couldn’t even speak the morning I found out he’d started smoking again. Him? He just grinned at me.

So, I had to adopt a “your body, your choice” attitude for my own sanity.

I completely understand what your dad is doing. You are right: he is enabling, however, he has to live with her 24/7, and he might just be doing his best to keep his own sanity, not to mention dealing with the hurt of seeing his bride go through all this. My concern for him would be how he is going to cope when her level of care needs exceed his ability.

Your mom is going to do what she is going to do, and your frustration is your frustration. You being frustrated isn’t going to affect her one bit, especially if her mind is set. When it comes to that, all we can do is let the frustration go and love them as they are.

I wish I could be more help.
54 Posts


Hi, sorry to hear what you are going through. It is so frustrating! My mother-law was diagnosed with lung cancer that eventually travelled to her brain. She would go for treatment and be smoking in the car to and from the hospital. She even had to have a oxygen tank in the house. Her daughter who also smoked like a chimney was staying with her. They would go out to the enclosed back porch close the sliding doors and light up! I was terrified they were going to blow the house up! I tried to talk to her, but all I got was a dirty look, and she said“ I’ve smoked since I was 15 and I’m not about to quit now! “It was a lost cause. So sad, but cigarettes are so darn addictive. I hope you have better success than we did. But maybe @Brightys suggestion of a family sit down would work. Keeping fingers crossed for you.🤞Good luck!


1284 Posts

@josiejosie thank you for sharing this with us. My heart goes out to you as you struggle with watching your loved one do things, that you can see are harming them.

I was caregiver for my wife who had ovarian cancer and when I met her, she was not smoking at the time. But when she got her final diagnoses of “terminal” she just looked at me and said &&%&(& it! Now Ill do what I want, and she smoked for almost a year till she got too sick to. It pained me very much to watch because I loved her so much and I knew that smoking again would not help her, but rather the opposite.

All I did was unconditional love, whatever way she needed it. It was really that simple, and thats how I kept my own sanity in check. Its almost like how we parents have to sometimes let our kids do something wrong so that they can figure it out themselves. I would urge one piece of advice, re fire safety. I am aware of a case a few years ago where someone with an oxygen tank was smoking and they did set off a terrible explosion. A friend of mine at the time who was there crawled along the floor of her place, under the smoke, and somehow pulled her out of there, and she was very fortunate for sure. Please, do what it takes to prevent anything similar there. Let us know how things are going when you can.

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