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Parents might be separating with Father dealing with cancer

Parents might be separating with Father dealing with cancer

Posted by DannyBoy on Jan 9, 2019 6:28 pm

Hi everyone, Iam a adult living with my parents and recently my father that has been battling cancer has decided to take a break from the family and move out for a few months mainly because he doesn’t think my mother and I are supporting him enough. We all became vegetarian because he wanted us to and we wanted to because we wanted to support him but that has worn off and it seems like we can’t do anything right. This is devastating to me personally because I want to be supportive! I don’t know what to do. Has anyone been threw something similar?

Re: Parents might be separating with Father dealing with cancer

Posted by Elsie13 on Jan 10, 2019 6:41 pm

Hello DannyBoy‍ Sorry to hear about your father's situation.  Glad you have found us here at cancerconnection. Can you tell us a bit about your father's cancer type and treatment? There may be medical reasons why he is acting strangely, I suppose. 
   I see you are in Cancer and the Family.  You might also want to have a look at Caring For Someone With Cancer: 
https://cancerconnection.ca/discussions/viewcategory/35 
Maybe Cynthia Mac‍ will get in touch with you, but she likely needs more information about your father also? 

Re: Parents might be separating with Father dealing with cancer

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Jan 11, 2019 12:03 am

Wow, DannyBoy‍ , I’m so sorry that your Dad is struggling so much with his situation, and for the stress this has to be putting on you and your Mom.

It’s very ironic that someone who is claiming to need more support from the people around him is turning his back on the support he IS getting.

I think there are dozens of people on this site who had very different reactions to the news that they have cancer, so your Dad could be feeling any number of things besides feeling that is isn’t being supported enough. As Elsie13‍  said, this could be related to medications he is on, it could be related to his fears, or doubts, or beliefs, and it could even be related to an inability to communicate his feelings to himself, let alone you two.

I won’t generalize on a gender basis, but some people really need to express when they get a diagnosis (talk about their situation a lot to try and process it), while others tend to shut down emotionally, and perhaps even withdraw.

Often when the people around a subject “can’t do anything right” it’s because they feel that way about their own self, and try to project that onto the people around them.

It sounds as though you and your Mom have been supportive toward your Dad — I know I’d be sneaking a cheeseburger when I could if anyone asked me to go vegetarian!

Communication is paramount right now, but it’s really hard when one side shuts down as your Dad appears to have done. If you haven’t already, I would contact the local cancer centre to seek out some counselling for you and your Mom — your Dad, too, if he’ll go. 

Has your Dad given you details about what it would take for you and your Mom to do to satisfy his need for support? We often tell caregivers that when they ask for help, they need to be specific - not just “I need some help with Dad,” but, “I need someone to come and stay with Dad on Tuesday and get his dinner ready while I go out and do some errands.” I would think this same advice would apply here. “I’m not feeling supported,” is a very general statement, which is hard for you and your Mom to translate into achievable actions.

My hunch is that your Dad is feeling scared. He might not like this guy who is “not feeling supported” and he could even be trying to shield you and your Mom from what he might consider a bad situation. As I said earlier, different people have different reactions.

You’ve done a good thing by reaching out here on Cancer Connection. Come back whenever you need to vent or give us an update.

Re: Parents might be separating with Father dealing with cancer

Posted by DannyBoy on Jan 11, 2019 11:07 am

Hi Elsie, He is in remission but had liver and colon cancer. He went threw two liver surgeries and a bowel resection and permanently has a colostomy bag. This was about 4 years ago so we are very lucky to have him in our lives. I just want him to be happy so it’s tough when he shuts us out. I couldn’t imagine what he’s going threw not knowing how much time he has have left. I try to keep an open mind and not judge his actions because going threw that obviously wasn’t easy. It was difficult for everyone because we were all so close before. That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore unfortunately which really hurts

Re: Parents might be separating with Father dealing with cancer

Posted by DannyBoy on Jan 11, 2019 11:32 am

Hi Cynthia Mac‍ , Iam sure Men are more likely to shut themselves out and not communicate. I honestly don’t think we can support him anymore then we have been. As I’ve said we all turned vegetarian for a couple years because he wanted us to become healthier and man it was tough lol but we did it! He is on a big health kick right now which is great! But unfortunately he has a very strong personality and is very judgmental so he tries to force his opinions on us in not the nicest way and if we do cheat and have a peice of meat(Like turkey on Christmas) he gets very upset. But he also cheats and we never judge him so we feel we can’t do anything right. He is also is not happy with his marriage. It was shaky before his sickness. Nothing major happened before my parents just have very different personalities and views. They’ve been together for 45 years they had a good run! Lol. Even if he wanted to see someone else I feel like he wouldn’t because he feels like he doesn’t have a lot of time left. That must be so tough on him as well. I just want my folks to be happy. It’s difficult dealing with everything when it’s happening but I’d never thought there would be such an aftermath after

Re: Parents might be separating with Father dealing with cancer

Posted by Lacey_adminCCS on Jan 11, 2019 12:40 pm

DannyBoy‍ 

I'm glad you found us here and shared what your experiencing. Talking about it can really help you get it off your chest and feel less alone.

Sounds like a really tough time and like you are really trying to understand and support everyone involved. Sometimes when it's our parents going through stuff and we are adult children it can feel like we are in the middle. When my Dad went through cancer treatment my parents struggled a lot with their relationship and they had a great relationship beforehand. If things were shaky before it is possible that cancer has added to that stress. Sometimes life changing health events can also make a person choose what they really want out of life. Have you asked your Dad what he needs from you?

Remember to take care of yourself. Sometimes we want to fix things for people and we can't. Listening and supporting them the best you can is enough.

Keep us updated and reach out anytime.

Lacey

Re: Parents might be separating with Father dealing with cancer

Posted by DannyBoy on Jan 11, 2019 1:34 pm

Thank you very much Lacey,

 He basically wants us to change everything. Becoming more active, taking supplements/vitamins and becoming vegan. I worry about the supplements and vitamins because he’s reading up on them and ordering anything that he can get his hands on. The being active part I understand and need to. But the vegan thing I don’t like because he’s telling us to do it but he doesn’t so it’s extremely frustrating to get judged on something that the person doing the judging doesn’t even do. I know he’s thinking of our health and wants us to become healthier which is great and shows he cares but he forces it which is hard on us. He thinks everyone should think like him. Doctors can’t even tell him what to do he tells them what he should do lol I feel like even if we did everything he still would be the same. It almost feels like we are being held hostage which I feel horrible saying but that’s how it feels :(

Re: Parents might be separating with Father dealing with cancer

Posted by Lacey_adminCCS on Jan 11, 2019 1:40 pm

DannyBoy‍ 

Its sounds like you guys are happy to support him with his wishes but he isn't giving you the room to make your own choices. That is tough. 

No need to feel horrible saying that if that is how it feels. Sounds like a really tough place to be. Do you think the three of you could sit down and talk about it or you could let Dad know how you feel one on one?

Lacey

 

Re: Parents might be separating with Father dealing with cancer

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Jan 11, 2019 6:32 pm

DannyBoy‍ , thanks for telling us more about your situation. Has your Dad always been a bit of a “do as I say, not as I do” kind of guy, or is this new?

The more you say about him “driving” the healthy lifestyle onto you and your mom, the more it sounds to me as though he is being motivated by fear for your well-being, and possibly his view of his own situation.

As you probably figured out, I’m not a vegetarian or vegan, but I heard recently that vegans cannot get enough of one particular vitamin (B12? B6?), so they have to take supplements. I’m curious to know how YOU feel since you’ve changed your diet.

Wanting your parents to be happy is very, very selfless of you, and it shows that you care about both of them very much.

Lacey_adminCCS‍ has also touched on the importance of communication. How about your Mom? Where does she stand with the situation? With the diet plan? Do you think she would be willing to seek out counselling, or attend a session or two with you if you decide you’d like to go that route? 

You are very articulate about your situation and you appear to be ready to find some answers.

Re: Parents might be separating with Father dealing with cancer

Posted by swest001 on Jan 12, 2019 6:59 am

Hi DannyBoy‍   I, myself have been dealing with Colon Cancer that has spread into the liver.  I definitely know the emotions it takes on the body.and soul.  I had to come to grips with my own mortality and even plan in case something happens to me.  Not something I thought I would be doing so early.  I am doing Chemo every 2nd week for the past 6 months now, still maintaining a somewhat normal lifestyle with work and home.  I have a strong support system within my church, work and employer and home.  My family doesn't talk about it much now, they are just there for me.  It's hard dealing with cancer because it is on your mind 24/7.  That's what you Dad is feeling right now.  I know I wanted space to and didn't want to be a burden on everyone.  Maybe sit down with your Dad and tell him all your feelings and see if he can open up.  Support groups are great because it enables people to share feelings and emotions.  I wish the best for you guys.  If you ever need to talk, just message me.

Re: Parents might be separating with Father dealing with cancer

Posted by Elsie13 on Jan 13, 2019 12:13 pm

Hello swest001‍  .  Glad you have found cancerconnection. That was a great supportive message you wrote for DannyBoy. If you would like to get involved in more discussions, have a look at the colorectal discussions:
https://cancerconnection.ca/discussions/viewcategory/64

Re: Parents might be separating with Father dealing with cancer

Posted by Aly on Feb 8, 2019 6:19 pm

Hey DannyBoy‍ , how are things going?

Re: Parents might be separating with Father dealing with cancer

Posted by SpeedyStill on Feb 9, 2019 8:21 pm

I have experienced a similar situation in my family. My wife and I separated after 44 years of marriage. She made the decision to move in with her mother. In 2010 I had 6 aggressive doses of Chemotherapy. During that time I was in my own little world. The weight of the situation changed how I reacted to people especially my wife. I came out of it in full remission although I still wasn't that person I was before cancer.
Move ahead to today. It has been a year and a half since my wife moved out and I am living alone. Last July I was diagnosed with Kidney Cancer. About a year after my wife moved out. Like your parents our marriage had been rocky for several years.  My first Cancer and the person I had become was the tipping point.
We have 2 children and 2 grandchildren.  I was told one time that there are no winners in a separation or divorce and I have found that to be true in my family's situation.  Everyone is affected they want to put the pieces back together what they don't realize is that it is now an entirely new puzzle and the old pieces don't fit.
I worked in food sales for over 40 years and one thing I learned early in my career was that in any situation the only control I had was me. I don't know what's in my wife's head or ex wife and I lived with her for 44 years.  
We want to fix things however the only real job we have is to fix ourselves.  Be the best person you can be that's all anyone can ask of you
All the Best
SpeedyStill 

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Re: Parents might be separating with Father dealing with cancer

Posted by SpeedyStill on Feb 9, 2019 8:22 pm

I have experienced a similar situation in my family. My wife and I separated after 44 years of marriage. She made the decision to move in with her mother. In 2010 I had 6 aggressive doses of Chemotherapy. During that time I was in my own little world. The weight of the situation changed how I reacted to people especially my wife. I came out of it in full remission although I still wasn't that person I was before cancer.
Move ahead to today. It has been a year and a half since my wife moved out and I am living alone. Last July I was diagnosed with Kidney Cancer. About a year after my wife moved out. Like your parents our marriage had been rocky for several years.  My first Cancer and the person I had become was the tipping point.
We have 2 children and 2 grandchildren.  I was told one time that there are no winners in a separation or divorce and I have found that to be true in my family's situation.  Everyone is affected they want to put the pieces back together what they don't realize is that it is now an entirely new puzzle and the old pieces don't fit.
I worked in food sales for over 40 years and one thing I learned early in my career was that in any situation the only control I had was me. I don't know what's in my wife's head or ex wife and I lived with her for 44 years.  
We want to fix things however the only real job we have is to fix ourselves.  Be the best person you can be that's all anyone can ask of you
All the Best
SpeedyStill 

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Re: Parents might be separating with Father dealing with cancer

Posted by nancy180 on Feb 10, 2019 10:03 am

This is a very difficult time for you and your dad. His surgery was drastic and has some unpleasant after effects. He may be feeling a bit awkward about it all. 
I don’t eat any meat either. I am from a farming family that had both dairy and beef cows. However, I stopped eating meat years ago. I have found other people stopped eating meat during Chemo. Your taste buds change so much that some foods you might have liked now taste awful. Water still tastes really bad to me. I drink a bit but not much. 
The combination of his drastic surgery and emotional aftermath may be proving hard for him to cope. I’m so sorry he seems to be taking his pain out on you. Perhaps he feels some time apart is needed so he won’t say something he regrets. There is no way to force your dad into talking to a professional but perhaps he has a male friend he could talk to? Very tough situation. Wishing you all the best, 
Nancy

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