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Family split in two

Family split in two

Posted by vic777 on Jul 6, 2020 2:41 pm

Hi Everyone,

I just want to express how sad and abandoned I feel.  I have two grown sons and they couldn't react anymore different to my cancer diagnosis and treatment. The youngest son suffers from an anxiety problem but he is doing his absolute best to phone me a few times a week, pick things up for me and/or help me out around the house.  The oldest son has all but disappeared, he accompanied me to 4 chemo treatments and thats it.  His wife invited me out to stay with them (they live about 3-4 hours away) but I had to decline because I am suffering a lot of back pain and can't imagine sitting in a car for 4 hours to get there.  Eventually I suggested they come and stay with me for a few days (they both work from home) but the response I got from my son was-nope, that doesn't work for  him, he'll have to figure out how to get me there.  I haven't heard back from either of them since.  And nor has he hardly phoned me at all through the whole thing (started in late fall 2019) it makes me so very sad.  I cry a lot as I try to understand what I had sone so horrible for him to behave this way.  I know that I also already lost two friends because they couldn't cope with my cancer but I never dreamed my first born son could react this way.

I fully admit that if it wasn't for the youngest son and a few of my good friends, I would just throw in the towel and give up on even caring going forward. I thought I had already cried mountains of tears losing my partner and only sister within 6 months of each other.  

I don't know what I expect others will say, I guess I just want to know if others have experienced something like this with their diagnosis and if so, how have you coped.  Any tips on how to keep my  head up?  Aside from crying a few times a day, I just don't know what else to do.  My youngest son spent a weekend fishing with the oldest son a week or so ago and he told me that he told the other son to phone me, that I was hurt and crying and so-nope, nothing.  I'm just so very sad with everything-I didn't even mention that I sen the last year helping a good friend that was dying of cancer only to get my diagnosis just as she went into palliative care-she cried so much for me, all just so sad.

Re: Family split in two

Posted by Brighty on Jul 6, 2020 3:26 pm

vic777‍  Ruth.   My heart  goes out to you.    I just want  you to know  it is NOTHING you have done and in no way  your fault.   It happens all the time unfortunately .     I can't tell you how many posts I read on here where people  get abandoned during the worst time in their lives.  It breaks my heart each  time I read  these posts.    But there any many people  who just can't handle cancer or other health  issues.   That's totally on them.     They could also be in denial too.  If thry avoid it, then it's not really happening.    That's just the way some people  are.    Like I have told you, dan's  older brother  totally  bailed on him and it hurt me for him.     Again this is in no way your fault.    My therapist  used to always say that we expect people do act a certain  way because  that's what we would do if the situation  were reversed. .when they don't act that way we are devastated.      Let's see when it's their time when they are down and out and need someone.    Who will be there for them?     Let me assure you that you aren't alone here.    I for one, consider  you a friend and will continue  to talk with you however much you want.     Don't give up.  You are too good a person , have much to give and Timmy  loves you very much.      Big virtual hugs to you.    
Help is out there. All you have to do is reach out.

Re: Family split in two

Posted by vic777 on Jul 6, 2020 4:15 pm

Awwww, thanks Brighty.  I know you are right.  One of my friends says she thinks he is scared s***less-her words not mine.  I know that his dad tended to run from a crisis so I guess it has been passed down.  I totally believe you that you have seen many other cancer patients talk about the same sort of thing happening to them.  And I know I experienced it all through my grief as well, so shouldn't be surprised but I'm just shocked that it is the sunshine on my shoulder (used to sing that to him when he was a baby) that is running away.
And I know you spoke of Dans brother absolutely running as well as did my Vics father.  It's all just so sad.  It's just so ironic because it would have made more sense for it to be the son that suffers from anxiety.  And thats why I am loving him even more because I know how hard it is for him to cope with possibly losing me.
Do you have some sort of special/magical something-I didn't know that you would get to see the post, you are like everywhere, ha ha   And you are absolutely right, Timmy wouldn't want me to go anywhere.  I appreciate that we truly do feel like friends, its a lot of very personal information that we  have shared and understand each other.  Trust me my heart goes out to you as well, there was a young woman in my grief group that had lost her fiancé as well.  She was on major anti-depressants, Ativan, you name it.  In her case she also had a two year old daughter and suddenly found herself having to move back home, just way too much life struggles for her to cope with alone.  I digress, I guess at this point I do realize I am getting depressed with all this stuff.  This covid stuff just makes everything so much worse because I am so limited where I can go.

Re: Family split in two

Posted by Runner Girl on Jul 6, 2020 5:36 pm

vic777‍ ,

I am so sorry that your eldest son is "scared sh**less".  He may come around in time or he may not.  Nothing you do will change his mindset.  Instead, focus on your younger son, the sweet man who is wanting to be there for you.  Accept all the love and care that he can provide to you and relish in it.  Same with the friends who choose to remain involved in your life since your diagnosis.  Those who have left were never true friends.  Be grateful for the love and kindness you are receiving rather than focusing on where it is missing.  

I had a fiance when I was diagnosed.  He promised we would be "Team Gayle" and we would get thru this together.  That didn't last long.  He felt stressed out after my surgery, wanted to go to Vegas.  I was not cleared by my surgeon to fly.  Said fiance claimed to be suicidal and needed to get away - to go to Vegas.  So I bid him well and off he went.  Upon his return he tried to make me feel guilty for not going by telling me how awkward he felt there by himself.  A few weeks later, the weekend before my first chemo he moved me from our room into the spare room.  A week after my third chemo he told me I needed to get out.  I laid down the law and things changed, for a short while.  He took me to my chemo appointments and to my doctor appointments, until we had the first appointment with my radiation oncologist.  This is when he bailed and told me I could go to my appointments by myself.  For my birthday, 3 days after my last chemo he gifted me a chocolate bar and 3 Harry Potter toys - YES, he did.  Because I play with toys!  NOT!  I did my radiation and herceptin appointments by myself.  On May 2nd at 4 am he told me the relationship was over and I needed to go.  I agreed.  I moved on Aug 22, 2019, and I couldn't be happier.  He has shown his face at my door 3 times in the last few months.  The last time I told him I was no longer his responsibility and he should leave me alone.  He could not handle me having cancer and nothing I said made a bit of difference.

Sending you a hug and want you to know you are valued and cared for and I am glad you are here!

Runner Girl
Never stop believing in HOPE because MIRACLES happen every day!

Re: Family split in two

Posted by vic777 on Jul 6, 2020 6:19 pm

OMG Runner Girl, as my chiropractor would say-"you can't make this stuff up!" Your story is truly shocking and my  heart goes right back to you. So good for you to accept who he showed you he was.  Clearly that is what I have to do with my oldest son, I cannot change him or how he is behaving.
You are of course absolutely right, I need to get focussed on what is good in my life and some of the wonderful kindness I have received from people I had no idea would step forward to help me.  And as for my youngest son, you are right on all counts with him as well.  So appropriate for you to call him a sweet man, he truly is.  I have told him for years that I appreciate that when we argue he will not walk away and ignore the whole thing.  He will hound me until I talk to him and resolve our conflict, it is something in him that I so admire.  He also is very giving with telling me things that I instilled in him that will carry him through his life.
I also want to thank you for the hugs which are far and few between with COVID.  May I send major hugs back to you for taking the time to tell me your story and share from your learnings.

Re: Family split in two

Posted by Trillium on Jul 6, 2020 9:00 pm

OMG, Runner Girl‍  - lucky you did not marry that guy! Wow, so sorry you had to go through that during a time of needing support not overwhelming stress.

vic777‍  - something that helped me cope with all the stress of other family members coping with illness in a loved one was to see that we were all at a different place with how we were coping. Some of us were able to jump in and help and others needed more time to get there. I suppose it can happen that families may have a person that can’t cope at all and avoid contact. I so hope for you that your son just needs more time to be present for you. My daughter feels overwhelmed with her brothers cancer at times so I let her talk about it when she feels like it and other than that we talk about other things including her problems in her life.

Hugs to you

Re: Family split in two

Posted by Lyne on Jul 7, 2020 8:55 am

vic777‍ ,

I am sorry that your oldest is not reacting as one would expect in your time of need.  As was said, he may or may not come around. I would focus on the relationship with your youngest son as he is supporting while dealing with his own issues, it will benefit both of you in the long run I'm sure because...
I have two stepsons. They came into my life at the ages of 18 months and 3.  That was 37 years ago.  Their mother and us shared custody and they were and integral  part of our family. I eventually had a daughter and we made sure that they were together as brothers and sister.  All was good. 
When I was diagnosed in 2017, we shared the news with our "adult" children and the boys all but disappeared from our life.  I eventually contacted each of them to say that they don't owe me anything nor are they expected to care for me but that I would appreciated if they were there for their dad, a call or an outing would do wonder to support him.  Not a peep, except for their birthdays, Christmad, etc.  When gifts are expected i guess. My daughter, who was paralyzed with anxiety and depression, living in our basement and rarely socializing, found her feet in this crisis.  She helped out where she could, had long talks with her dad to get him to express his feelings, etc.  She even managed to get back to school, find work, etc.
I'm saying this because seeing her finally find her passion and coming out of her troubled shell has shown me that people's reaction to a crisis is really unpredictable and often surprising.  
Share as much as you can with your youngest son, it may even get to the ears of your oldest, and his support will make a difference in both your lives.
As for your oldest, perhaps reaching out to him and chatting about the day to day may open a door and eventually he may be able to express how he feels, and maybe be there for you.  Cancer is scary, as patients we face it, but for those around us, they often feel helpless in our battle. 
Take good care and I wish you all the best! 

Re: Family split in two

Posted by vic777 on Jul 7, 2020 11:29 am

Hi Lyne,

Thank you for sharing your story.  It is so true how different people react differently in a crisis.  I appreciate your describing your sons reaction, and ha ha , I have also noticed there is contact or actually worse-not even a thank you when I send cards or bday gifts of money.  It just shocks me because I know how I brought them up and it sure wasn't to take life for granted or received gifts with no acknowledgement.
My youngest son spent the weekend with the older brother last week and suggested to him that he should call me and that I was crying, etc.  But to no avail, no call received.  Although I understand you are saying to talk to him at this point it is crystal clear to me that the ball is in his court.  I won't chase him because it has already happened where he said he would help 2 days a week and then suddenly he completely denied that was what he said.  If anything, I think I need to learn to appreciate what and who I have in my life that are good to me and just let go of all the negativity I have with others.  I know that won't come easy but I suspect all of my tears won't bring a mountain down, so I need to quit spending them on him.
It sounds so rewarding that your daughter has figured out how to help her dad and pick herself up and go out there and move on!  Thats just great.  I know with my youngest son that as I have explained struggles with anxiety, I admire him so much for putting his heart out there to his psychiatrist, who I am equally pleased that he is having more virtual meetings with my son to help him with this crisis.  Among other things he told my son that it wasn't his job to try and make up for what the other brother isn't doing and I totally agree with that, I don't want him to break down in the process of everything.
I also agree with how scary cancer is for all concerned.  It is so totally unpredictable and riding its waves of ups and downs are hard on the whole family.  You take care as well and thank you for your kind words.

Re: Family split in two

Posted by SpeedyStill on Jul 7, 2020 6:53 pm

We never know how a family is going to react in any situation especially when it involves Cancer.
Sometimes it brings a family closer but too many times it separates a family.
I think a lot has to do with the background situation that the family finds themselves in at the time.
A Cancer diagnosis can be almost as trying on the family members as the one going through the Cancer. When we are going through Cancer it is hard to step outside our own situation and consider the impact on others. I know that when I was going through my Cancer tests and especially the Chemotherapy treatments I was singularly focused on me and my healing. I wasn't completely another person but I was in high gear sensitive.
Fear and our societal changes have caused people in general to be more focused on there own world and the issues surrounding it.
My children for example are adults with there own families and friends and the issues surrounding thier worlds.
One child is over 40 and the other is in the mid 30s.
They are probably looking at me and wondering if thier going to be directly affected by a Cancer diagnosis.
I have high expectancies but find that I end up having to accept their realities.
Look wherever you can for support. Use all the resources available to you at your Cancer Center. I saw a Psychologist that was provided at the Cancer Center when I was going through my treatments. She was a God send for me. I was able to vent and tackled every issue in my life with her. It sure saved my wife from having to deal with all of it.
This time in my life, a mass on my Kidney which could be Cancer, Pulmonary Fibrosis and other health issues the Cancer Connection Community through open and caring members helped me straighten out some of my thinking around my health and emotions.
People who have been there "get it" everyone else has trouble understanding and this is normal.
How do you explain Chemo feet, Chemo hands and Chemo brain to those people who have never gone through the Chemo experience.
It was all worth it because I am a Cancer Survivor.

Re: Family split in two

Posted by vic777 on Jul 8, 2020 3:58 pm

H i Speedystill,

Thank you for sharing your story and explaining things you have come to understand with your own grown children.  Its interesting because a good friend of mine once told me to lower my expectations of my older son.  As time has passed by I have wondered how low am I supposed to go?  This son studied to be asocial worker, there is in my mind absolutely no excuse for not communicating to me.  I have always told both of my sons, I am here to listen and if they had any life issues with me to raise them now, don't wait until I am gone as it will just eat at you for the rest of your life.  And, I told them that long before I had cancer, so his behaviour now is just totally puzzling to me.  
People have even gone so far as to tell me to cut him out of my will.  Of course, that is not the answer, that would just have me behaving in appropriately and for what, to split up the two boys when I'm gone.  Thats just an awful thing to do.
Anyway, sorry I digress Speedystill, I really shouldn't be surprised at his behaviour.  He ran away when my partner was in hospice, clearly he couldn't deal with that either.  Just so sad, I sometimes think the irony or ironies is that my partner on her deathbed told me he wouldn't be there for me-she sensed something.  So sad, I will just do my best to not take on any guilt for his behaviour and just try to cope with what is happening to me, period.
You are also right that the person with the cancer becomes very inward, which is no doubt not unusual.  I am trying to get support wherever I can and a phychologist sounds like a good idea, I may ask if there is one available for me at my local hospital.  I have connected with a social worker that I must admit I would be completely lost without her, she truly helps me see that I should not blame myself for everything that is happening.  And you are over 100% right that people that have been there truly get it, that is why having found this website means the world to me because I know I can truly vent and talk about how I am feeling on any given day.
I have other health issues as well which oddly enough I find that is one of the areas I feel the cancer doctors, etc. don't get-they don't treat the whole person, their focus is cancer only and all the other parts of me has problems as well.

Thanks so much for responding, every view and words from others really helps me get a perspective on what is happening.  Up until now, I was always the caregiver, to be the patient is so very different.



Re: Family split in two

Posted by SpeedyStill on Jul 8, 2020 6:27 pm

I have not changed my will nor would I. I look at my total life with my family and not make critical decision based on a small portion of my life. My separated wife and 2 children have brought a lot of joy and love to my life. I would not throw away any of that for any reason.
True love which you do not find much of today is unconditional. Now we by nature put conditions on but I fell in love with both of those babies. I was fortunate to be there for both thier births. 
The decisions you make in life are completely up to you we just have to realize that for every action there is a reaction. 
By the sounds of it you have already figured out the different actions and the reactions.
The feeling is Love and Acceptance a basic human need.
Boiled down that would in 3 words sum up what I feel without right now in my life.
You have hit a nerve with me on Doctors especially Specialists.
My separated wife has worked as a nurse for a lot of years and knows most of the Doctors. In fact at 68 she is still working unless she retired this year without telling me.
When we would go to appointants she would give me my marching orders. Just answer the Doctors questions and he only wants to know what applies to his specialty don't elaborate.
So Ruth this is normal, you are not alone here.
Take Care of Yourself

Re: Family split in two

Posted by CentralAB on Jul 9, 2020 10:08 am

Hello vic777‍ A belated welcome to the forum. I have been off for a short break. I could not possibly add to the many excellent comments above. Im glad you have found this forum to be a place that is helpful for you. I am also happy to see you have connected to a Social Worker. That can be a life-saver, for sure. I can relate to the adverse reactions of family. I was caregiver for my wife and there were some who simply refused to visit once the diagnoses was in for my wife. Even when offered the money to travel here and visit. I am still a little mystified as to ow people can do that, but have also come to the conclusion that they do it out of fear. Hope you are doing as well as can be expected today. Thanks for sharing your story. It will help others.
________________ "there is always a little Light"

Re: Family split in two

Posted by vic777 on Jul 9, 2020 11:37 am

Hi CentralAB‍ 

Love your moose, just saw a video on Facebook of a moose that discovered someones fountain and was getting his drink and playing with the water, just adorable.  Anyway, thank you for your comments.  It is shocking isn't it, how some people respond to illness and/or grief.  I remember similar things happening for my partner and I just felt awful because I didn't know how to explain why people wouldn't come to visit.  Just terrible, I couldn't imagine how she felt, well, ok, now I can.  It's just so sad. 

Its interesting you should say that about "fear" because a long-time friend of mine said exactly that, she believes that my son is "scared shitless" and I thought that was crazy but maybe as you said, it is right.  It's hard for people like us to know how others think because it is just so opposite what goes on in our minds.

Good for you that you share your story and realize how you can help other by simply confirming or discussing how you as a caregiver had to cope with similar things.

Thanks so much,

PS I'm telling you that big moose was behaving like a child, playing with the water.


Re: Family split in two

Posted by CentralAB on Jul 13, 2020 7:24 pm

vic777‍ Im glad my story has been of help to you. And I have a very amusing picture of a Moose just for you that I got last night! Ill have to hunt a bit for it, but Ill come back here when I find it and post it for you. 😀
________________ "there is always a little Light"