You will definitely have to talk to them. There's no way around it. At first I thought maybe just ignore the comments...but that will not stop those comments from coming your way. I would talk to them, assure them that you understand they are trying to help, but let them know that you are working with your doctors to treat the cancer and this means even the diet you have to be on. I would also let them know how their actions and comments are making you feel. I'm sure they don't mean to make you feel like they're putting the blame on you, but sometimes people do things or say things without thinking how the other person will take them. I know you want to keep a good relationship with your family so try to talk to them in a loving manner. I know it's crazy cause it should really be the other way around...but sadly a lot of people don't know how to speak with people going through cancer and treatment. I wish you all the best.
Colorectal (Colon) Cancer Questions
Opinions from loved ones that just make me sooo mad!
Asked by Vivenia on Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Opinions from loved ones that just make me sooo mad!
Even before I knew for sure that I had cancer and what kind I had family dumping boxes and boxes of supplements on me. My mom set up an appointment for me to talk to a lady who wanted to charge me $6800 to "cure" my cancer through diet and supplements, the fact that I didn't know I was being sold made me more mad than the fact she wanted to help.
The straw that has broken this camel's back? My aunt posted on facebook that I should change my diet in response to a status about dinner. She lives in a different state, she has no idea what I eat, how much I've studied to know what is healthy for me to eat. She doesn't know what my doctor's have told me to eat to help with anemia. Just a blanket, change your diet. Every time I think about replying I just get so mad that I don't, I know she loves me and is trying to help, but I feel like she's blaming me for getting cancer.
How do you keep boundaries with loved ones who want to take over and still keep a good relationship?
12 Answers from the Community
This is just me...but I couldn't give a rats rear if I hurt their feelings or not. When I got sick the last time, I was mad, depressed, had all sorts of feelings, and I didn't need that kind of XXX coming my way from people that don't know what their talking about. Yes they are probably just trying to help, but like you, I didn't have time or patience to be explaining in a "nice" way what they are saying is wrong. I got a comment similar to what you described from someone once, and I asked, how long they had been a Dr.
I think we deserve a pass on worrying about if we hurt someone's feelings, its part of the hazard people get exposed to when dealing with us.
As far as buying a bunch of "supplements" to cure you. People have been selling snake oils for years, and cancer is still here, so I'm just guessing they don't work.
We wish you well, and hope you can cure this little family issue peacefully, but don't feel like you can't drop the hammer if you need to.
I hear you - they do love us. And, like many members of one's family, they often judge us.
You could say essentially what you have written above.
Dear SoNSo - I know you love me, but when you make comments about X Y and Z, I feel like you are blaming me for getting cancer.
The bottom line is that no one really knows what causes cancer. Why does a longtime vegan who exercises every single day get breast cancer while a two pack a day smoker who drinks beer daily and never exercises nor eats veggies dies in their 90s? Sure, there are statistics showing this and that, but, at the end of the day, we still don't know exactly what causes cancer.
Gosh - wouldn't it be awesome if all we had to do was change our diets? Man - that would be great. Problem is, we don't really know what exactly is the right diet....
Another important point is that you are working with your health care team. You are making decisions based on advice from them.
A final important point is that stress erodes our ability to heal and our ability to find peace in this horrible process of treatment.
So, maybe you can make a three point argument.
1 - I know you love me but....
2 - I'm making decisions based on what my health care team tells me.
3 - I need to reduce stress - please help me do that by doing (or not doing) X Y and Z.
And boundaries with family members? I think this has been and always will be a common challenge for many struggling with serious health conditions....
PS - Lirasgirl is totally right - so many don't know how to behave around people with cancer. And why would any of us have a clue? Right? I mean, it's not like that is one of the things we learned in kindergarten.
Sell the cases of vitamins and buy a nice Do Not Disturb sign for the front door.
Or play switcheroo-- When they offer supplements or something else, you could say that's very nice to offer that help or advice, however I have enough vitamins and a good plan to tackle the cancer. But what you could really help me with is __________. That way it gives them something to channel all that helpful energy into, and gives you a break handling the things on your to-do list when you feel crappy.
I can relate to their feelings a bit. They have gone completely overboard but it could be because they need to feel they are doing something to help. Taking action often helps me get some relief when I'm faced with a big worry. Based on your description, they are being very intrusive about it. The other thing to expect is getting information about miracle cures. I like the idea of redirecting their energy by saying you have enough vitamins but could use ___________. Maybe a spa treatment?
what another person from this website recommended to me was to read the book,'When bad things happen to good people" by Harold Kushner. The reason this book was helpful to me was that it helped me understand all the stupid and inappropriate things that my family and friends say or said to me during my cancer journey with my husband. It's because they love us and can't deal with how we are feeling that they want to fix us, but most of their attempts are misguided and the totally wrong thing to say. To answer your question, maybe just say Thank you for your concern but your medical team is helping you to make the best choices for your situation right now. Good luck, I know this is a terrible and painful journey. There are lots of people on this site who can be very helpful to you during this difficult time. I am sorry that you had to meet us by experiencing the pain of Cancer. Good luck and hang in there
Vivenia.... try to remain 'nice' but be very strong in stating that you appreciate her thoughts and ideas, BUT you are going to continue to listen to your oncologist that has the training and expertise to give you your best chance of coming out of this cancer free. I don't think she can argue with that.
Vivenia, I tend to align myself most with Drummer Boy and FreeBird. (Sorry Carol-Charlie, but why do girls always have to be "NICE", particularly when facing an often-fatal illness?????) I think you have every right to draw a line in the sand, do the broken record bit about "I choose to follow the advice of my health care team, I choose to follow the advice....", etc. I also totally agree that it's a very good idea to give those people something to do to keep them feeling useful somehow--and out of your hair as far as medical decisions go. Good luck! You sure have my support!
Thanks for all of the kind words and good advice. I have really appreciated this community and all of the information and support offered here as I get my legs under me.
I've found that my temper, which is normally slow to light, has been on a pretty quick fuze recently. My biggest concern is blasting someone who is just trying to help, and later realizing that I wasn't even really upset about the situation with them, it was just overflow stress.
I was lucky with my mom, after a couple of weeks she is starting to back off and be able to relax so we can talk reasonably about treatment, she was completely against chemo and wouldn't even discuss the options with me. I know I don't need her good opinion, but mentally it helps that she's told me that she trusts my decisions and will support me through everything.
I call them Vampires. When I first was diagnosed (no symptoms--it was a blindside surprise), I confided in one person, a family member who lives in my home and asked them not to say anything until we knew more. They smelled blood and started calling people to tell them. When I discovered this and asked why they abused my trust, the cheerful answer was "It was only a few people who would care." The conversation I overheard was about how much hospice care I would need and if we would need to remodel the house!!! And this before the first node dissection! I have since cut everyone off from any information, told the original vampire that I will cut them out of my life entirely if they say another word and am dealing with this on my own. Its as if my illness makes it possible for them to be victims without the pain. Its been horrible so I understand your distress. Drummerboy has it right. Forget about hurting their feelings. Its your illness, your decisions and they should butt out unless you ask them in.
My family went through that when Mom was diagnosed with Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma back in 2009. One of her older sisters is a really weird religious woman who believes that all ailments should be healed only by God, that we shouldn't DO anything to encourage our healing, but just lie around and wait for a miracle. Well, she sent my Mom some nasty emails from Panama (where this elder sister had gone at the behest of some crooked preacher who told her to move to Panama and wait for a miracle that would heal her nerve disorder). These emails were hateful, and not at all uplifting. What's worse is this elder sister was harassing all of Mom's other brothers and sisters (since Mom is one of 10), trying to get them all on her bandwagon. After a while, Mom and siblings just blocked all of this sister's emails, because they weren't doing anything to uplift or encourage her. It was all over Mom getting Chemo treatments, and how she was sinning against God, and that her faith was sooooo weak.
You know, when I found out I had Ovarian Cancer I didn't think anything of it, really...I suppose I'm accustomed to being a little apathetic about life's little surprises, as I've seen so many. Instead I began to strategize, and I resolved to face it like I would any foe...honorably and without fear. I thought, okay...so I've got a disease my Mom, Dad, Aunt and Uncle have, not to mention millions of other people around the world. Why get angry about it? That isn't going to make it go away. Why cry about it? That won't magically heal me. I just decided I was going to listen to one person when it came to how I felt, because who knows me better than I know myself...that is other than God. Well, that person is ME. I knew what I could handle emotionally, and really I'm the one facing the feelings that spring from what I'm going through, not anyone else. Vivenia, it is time to be selfish, I think, because you're fighting for one person right now and that person is YOU! When you're facing the greatest foe of your life, and that foe is a disease you can't just beat senseless or throw a grenade at, you have to be allowed to get angry, to get touchy, to get anxious and to work through it. Anything else family or friends think they're justified in saying as a result of your disease and how to manage it is just white noise. You are figuring out how YOU are going to manage what is happening in YOUR body. Your Aunt isn't in your shoes, now is she? Well, having said that just chalk it up to her ignorance, and accept that sometimes people react to the suffering of others by saying stupid things. If you really feel you need to say something to them (which may do more harm than good to be honest) Tell them that until they walk a mile in your shoes, that they need to control themselves and support you rather than smother you. Alas I understand how irritating it can be when family members say thoughtless things. Like when my Dad told me 'That's Life. You just have to deal with it.' When I lost my reproductive system due to Ovarian Cancer, and I have no children and I'm only 37. I SO understand how you feel...but don't waste your energy on getting angry, you need every precious ounce of that energy to concentrate on your battle. I say, if it fuels your cause, use it. If it distracts you, put it from your mind. Btw I have an Aunt and Uncle on Mom's side who are both actively fighting Colon Cancer. As to the supplements that are best for you, research it yourself. You will find there are quite a few that can help you fight. All the best to you.
Well let me tell you! I was in hospital for some severe back issues from myeloma and pretty drugged up and also taking large doses of dexamethosone. Dex just is not a good thing for me, for some reason the filter between my brain and mouth just does not work at all. Tracy, my wife was at my side most of the time and took very good care of me over the 30 days. One day she was fluffing my pillow or making more comfortable in some way and I just blurted out :You know you can be so annoying sometimes!" OOOPs the filter did not work, I looked at the nurse she looked at me and then at Tracy and they just shook their heads. Understanding goes a long way in these times!
If some one doesn't know, they don't know! Take the time to let them know, most people are not mind readers!