• Supporting a Cancer Patient

    Asked by Mable on Tuesday, October 9, 2018

    Supporting a Cancer Patient

    My sibling was recently diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. We have never had a close relationship, and the relationship we do have is complicated. It is easier for me to avoid conversations because we hardly see each other and when we do, all conversation is superficial. It is easier this way, because my sibling is extreme in viewpoints and choices made. I don't like my sibling, but I still love my sibling, if that makes sense. My sibling's support system is very small, me, my VERY old and frail parent, and, maybe, another sibling. No friends. I have to provide support and be giving to someone who I have always thought to be a "taker" most of their adult life. I have been appointed guardian of the teenage child, because there is no one else. I am finding myself to be extremely stressed between the cancer diagnosis and my recent job lay off. When I reread what I have written, I feel so selfish to feel the way I do, that I am not a better person. Any one with a similar situation?

    7 Answers from the Community

    7 answers
    • BarbarainBham's Avatar

      I understand this is a stressful time for you, especially if you've lost your job, and I agree with all the great advice above. I'm sure it means the world to your sister for you to have agreed to be her son's guardian. She likely thinks very highly of you to have trusted her with her son---with that in mind, you could start a brief conversation telling her the most important thing you want her to know about the two of you and your feelings. If it's brief and to the point, she can either elaborate or stay silent, and she will know what you want her to know either way.

      There's a lot we don't know about the two of you, but Is it possible that since your immediate need is money because of being laid off, that she can help you while you help her, such as allowing you to move in with her?

      I have a sister I don't like, but love, so I sincerely wish you the best.

      over 1 year ago
    • jillybean56's Avatar

      So sorry Mable, family situations make all of this so much more difficult to deal with. You want to help, but are sometimes shoved away or treated badly, it's not your fault. That is the one thing you have to keep at the front of your head, it is not ME it is THEM. You can try to deal with a totally dysfunctional family where perhaps YOU are the only normal one in the whole bunch, and may just have to step to the side and let all of them handle it. If things look out of hand, just make a call to social services and explain you want to remain anonymous, i.e., you do not want to be known as the "reporter" of the situation. Most will help you with that. This is a form of elder abuse and you do NOT want to be in the middle of it it all. If your sister is under some type of home care, perhaps get in touch with their social worker and let them know there is a situation. They probably already do. But put it in the hands of professionals to try to work it out, if possible. This is out of your capability. What a shame. Anger over a disease, cancer, whatever can affect a mind greatly, but it sounds like this has been a lifelong thing and has only greatly exacerbated with her diagnosis. Stage 4 cancer can, unfortunately, linger on or go quickly, you do not mention what type of cancer your sis has. And no, you do not HAVE TO be the support system, she has chosen her alone lifestyle, and now it will bite her, but need not bite you too. Don't let anyone take you down with them. She will surely use her diagnosis as a manipulating tool to make you jump thru her hoops. Don't fall for it. Support your niece/nephew as much as you can. Can you imagine the stress that young teen is under? Keep a close on that one, you don't want anything bad to happen, and this sounds like a powder keg. Cancer or not, it is a situation that needs professional help. Good luck to you, and no, not by any means are you being selfish. You care, they just can't see it. Leave the door open a crack, but keep the safety chain on. Wish you much luck.

      over 1 year ago
    • BarbarainBham's Avatar

      Resolving your income problem before decisions about your sister's situation might prevent the income stress from affecting decisions about your sister and son.

      Hopefully your shared history will give you pleasure at some point. Possibly looking at old photos with her son would help you all bond.

      over 1 year ago

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