• I found out today that my father has colon cancer and will have surgery this coming Friday. My stepmother sent an email to my sister and I

    Asked by kimmysue on Sunday, January 27, 2013

    I found out today that my father has colon cancer and will have surgery this coming Friday. My stepmother sent an email to my sister and I

    We're frustrated with our father because he always tells us bad news at the last moment. I suspect we received the email because my step mother doesnt want my father to know that she told us. There have been times when he's had surgery in the past and we learn about it 2 to 3 days later. I havn't called him yet, because I'm a little upset with him and don't know what to say. My sister and I aren't little girls anymore. We're 50 and 48! I know it sounds selfish. I just responded to the email and told my stepmother that I would be there for the surgery. In the mean time I'm wondering, should I bring the subject up to him?

    18 Answers from the Community

    18 answers
    • nancyjac's Avatar
      nancyjac

      You are right, you are not little girls any more, so be adult enough to realize that this is not about you. The last thing your Dad needs right now is to deal with family drama on top of everything else. You said that he always tells you bad news at the last moment, so apparently this is a long standing pattern in your family. If you have never brought up to him how this frustrates you and your sister in the past, why would he do anything different this time? I would recommend getting over your frustration and not bringing up the subject to him while you are frustrated or he is dealing with cancer. There is nothing to be gained other than the potential to add even more frustration and stress on everyone.

      over 4 years ago
    • kimmysue's Avatar
      kimmysue

      I was asking if I should bring up the subject of colon cancer to my father, not my frustration. I would not do that to my father. I thought sharing my frustration, fear and concern on this site would be better, perhaps not.

      over 4 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar
      GregP_WN

      I lost both my parents to cancer, Father to Prostate Cancer and Mother to Lung Cancer. Neither of them were ever "talkative" type people in all my life. We were not touchy feely type of family. But when both of them were diagnosed, I talked to them, A LOT. I learned things about mom and dad I never knew before.

      Forget what has happened in the past, and talk try to understand that he might not be good at telling bad news. It's hard to get the words out. I have had to do that three different times telling people about my own diagnoses. It's not easy.

      My bottom line on it, talk to your family as much as you can. One day you will wish you had talked more. That's how I feel now that I have lost both of mine.

      I wish you, your family, and especially Dad, the best.

      Greg P
      3x survivor
      Team WhatNext

      over 4 years ago
    • SMT4's Avatar
      SMT4

      I hear what you are saying . We all deal with this differently maybe you could let your father know you are always there for him and his wife in a casual setting if available or just call to let him know you are thinking about him even if the topic doesn't get to colon cance. And this place is a good place to vent frustrations and concerns you i hope you feel welcome and supported because here we are all fighting the same battle whether for ourselves or loved ones. I know your frustration is probably mixed with concern , love and helplessness. Even if you can't help him the way you want a support group of caregivers may be a place where you can also get some support and time to process your feelings and speak with other children, parents, and caregivers that experience similar. That way when you do talk to him you can work all the bugs out ahead of time.

      over 4 years ago
    • kimmysue's Avatar
      kimmysue

      My sister and I have talked to our father several times in the past about him not letting us know things. His answer is that he doesn't want to worry his girls. We just want to be there for him. I'm just scared. I know he is too, although he won't say it. I love him. Thank you.

      over 4 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar
      GregP_WN

      Kimmy, I NEVER seen my Dad cry until the Dr. told him he had cancer. Then he cried like a baby. Second time, when he seen Mom in the hospital after having open heart surgery, same thing. They might not seem like they are scared or worried but they are, and your love, support and understanding will help.

      As a cancer patient, all of a sudden family and friends, trump everything else.

      over 4 years ago
    • alivenwell's Avatar
      alivenwell

      It might be good to know that colon cancer is often an inherited condition. Maybe your stepmother wanted to make sure you would follow up on it for your own sake. It sounds like everything is in her hands now to relay your visit to him. Personally, I'd offer her support and assistance since she did keep you in the loop.

      over 4 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar
      SueRae1

      Some people just don't like to talk about bad news, especially medical issues that effect them. When i was in my 20s my Mom had minor surgery and was hospitalized for 3 days, Since my siblings and I were not living at home, we found out after she got home. My friends mother died of breast cancer, and did not let her or her bothers know about it until she was in the final stages, and made them promise not to tell anyone. I know this doesn't make the pain and anger you and your sister are feeling any better, but to let you know you are not the only ones who are dealing with this issue.

      Good for you supporting your father and step-mother during the surgery. When your father sees you before and/or after the surgery, he will know that you known. Tell him that you love him, and are there to support him and your step-mom in anyway that is needed. Also ask your step-mom what help she needs, she needs as much, if not more support then your dad, being a caregiver is very hard.

      over 4 years ago
    • gwendolyn's Avatar
      gwendolyn

      There may be a generational factor here, too. Men of a certain age tend to not want to admit to any health concerns, never mind something serious like cancer, especially to their daughters. That's how my father was, anyway. He regarded admitting a health issue as a serious character flaw. He would dismiss or minimize his aches and pains or signs of aging. In his mind, your father may really think he's protecting you from worry by not telling you.

      I'm not saying this attitude isn't frustrating, because I know it is. I'm suggesting that his attitude may be typical for a lot of men his age. We all know he's scared out of his mind right now. He may never admit it and you'll have to walk the line between being supportive and allowing him his "dignity." I suspect he'll be relieved to know you know but he may not be open to discussing it with you.

      over 4 years ago
    • kimmysue's Avatar
      kimmysue

      Thank you for your information, suggestions and kindness.

      over 4 years ago
    • Sooz's Avatar
      Sooz

      I agree with wware.My husband is from Boston area also and maybe it was the"new england"upbringing or not, but for some reason, he exerts alot of energy maintaining this facade of wellness in front of everyone but me.I see his fear and sadness. When he was first diagnosed, he didn't want anyone to know and 3 1/2 years later, he still has that problem to an extent-he just doesn't want to be pitied or worry anyone.I think he just wants to be able to say that he HAD a problem but everything is fine now.

      over 4 years ago
    • Harry's Avatar
      Harry

      I can certainly understand your frustration, but it's probably just Dad trying to protect his girls. It may seem a bit silly--and, yes, you aren't children--but fathers often try not to worry their children. My father had CLL and never told my brothers or me. We found out after he died and it was listed on his death certificate as an "Underlying condition" (he died from something else). I told my daughters (ages 30 and 28) fairly early about my cancer, but I tried to have something positive to say when I did. Of course, in my family the only question is: do I tell no one or everyone?

      over 4 years ago
    • Christiana3's Avatar
      Christiana3

      Hi, I agree mostly with what everyone has said. But then, when I received the news about colon cancer, I have stage 4, I didnt tell my family for almost two months just how serious it is and that they gave me two years to live. Having cancer is not like other surgeries and it takes awhile for people to process exactly what is going on. It is very scary and I did not want to scare my family. I wanted to put on a brave front so they wouldnt worry. Being on this site has helped me a lot both emotionally and medically. I am currently a year and a half into my sentence (lol) and refuse to let cancer control me. There is a lot of great support and a lot of great information here so please dont get discouraged. We are all here for each other! Its going to be a rough road for your dad and there will probably be days where he just wants to deal with this by himself. thats ok too. I too have my pity parties by myself and it helps me! So just give him the support and understanding when he wants it and when he needs it. Hugs and prayers for you and your family and fight the fight! Chris

      over 4 years ago
    • ticklingcancer's Avatar
      ticklingcancer

      I think when your father sees you at the hospital, he'll realize that you're well aware of everything that's going on. I would focus on what you can do to help him moving forward. He has a long road ahead of him and will certainly need all the support he can get.

      over 4 years ago
    • Nancebeth's Avatar
      Nancebeth

      When my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer, it had already spread to her liver and she knew she was terminal. She did not want to tell many people and she didn't. We told the people that she wanted to tell and then we just spent as much time together as we could. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer a year after my mom died, I kind of handled it the same way at first. I only told a few people and wanted to just fix it and move on. But I realized I needed support and I finally asked for help. A cancer diagnosis is hard on the patient and the care givers. Just be there for your dad and step mom and talk about it if he wants to. I didn't really want to. I just wanted to do "normal" things and not let my cancer define me. I have now become sort of an advocate, but it took a while to get to that point.
      Good luck to you and my thoughts are with you and your family.

      over 4 years ago
    • Clyde's Avatar
      Clyde

      Be there for your step-mother and your father, but don't ever forget that this is about him and at this time, his wishes are most important. Obviously, his reticence to discuss "bad news" isn't new to you so your shock about it this time does seem selfish.

      And even if you don't like everything that is said to you here, this is a better place to hear it than the alternative.

      over 4 years ago
    • booboo's Avatar
      booboo

      People do have the right to privacy, even parents. He will have to marshall all his resources to deal with this illness so even though you are upset with him, save this discussion for a time when he is not fighting for his life. This is not about you and your sister.

      over 4 years ago
    • Suehendo's Avatar
      Suehendo

      I hear you loud and clear. my mom has breast cancer and sometimes she wants to talk about it and other times she wants to pretend everything is good. I have learned to listen and wait for her to ask for help. my issue is not with my mom but my sister and brothers who don't help at all. We all love our mom, we just show it in different ways. All you can really do is be there for your dad, let him know you love him and your there to help. If he wants your help he will ask. I know it's hard but I have been reading what everyone is saying and it sounds like sometimes it's best to back off. I will pray for you and your family.

      over 4 years ago

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