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Teaching my family to understand

Mscortney
Posts: 10
Joined: May 2003

My name is Cortney and this is the first time I have posted anything on this site or spoke out about my childhood leukemia with anyone. I need some where to turn with this problem I am having. I am a 22 woman that has been in remission from ALL for about 18 years. Recently I got married to a wondereful man that has always been very supportive. My husband had told his parents of my childhood ordeal when we first started dating and that was that. But 4 months ago I gave birth to my first child, a healthy and beautiful son. My step mother-in-law threw me a baby shower that turned into a disaster. In front many of my in-laws (Nearly 25 of us), she announced that she thought that I was a fraud. She stated that although I've been in remission for 18 years, I shouldn't have any hair let alone be able to give birth. I understand that I have been extremely blessed with my remission but quite frankly, I was mortified and ashamed. I thought my new in-laws understood. I couldn't help but wonder how long she had been haboring these feelings and what lies she had been spreading to the family. I sat through the rest of the party quietly and went home. I haven't spoken to any of them since and will not show my face there although my husband takes our infant son over to see them occasionally. My problem is that I don't know what to do now. A part of me wishes to confont this meddling step mother-in-law and demand some kind of apology, TO MAKE HER UNDERSTAND!! That may be impossible. Another part of me doesn't want to allow my son to develop a relationship with them in fear of ridicule that might be facing him in the future. My husband is stuck in the middle, wishing I would atleast try to speak to his parents but would support any decision I made. The lady that did this is not his biological mother nor did she raise him. His widower father remarried this woman after my husband was out of childhood and I feel I owe her nothing. I feel like this was a calculated event and very childish. She could have pulled me aside and spoken to me in private. She wanted to mortify me in front of the family. Any adivice or thoughts would be appreciated...

tiggertoo's picture
tiggertoo
Posts: 31
Joined: Mar 2003

Hi Cortney, this is certainly a strange story. It almost sounds as if this women feels like you are some kind of threat to the family? Very strange. One of the parts of getting married is getting another family, warts and all. I don't know if there is anything you can do to make this woman understand or if it is worth your time. Did you get along with your father-in-law? If so, you might try to see if he has any questions or concerns that you can answer. No one understands the difference between treatment for childhood or adult leukemia, everyone assumes we all react the same. Why a child can get chemo and go on to have children later on and why an adult goes into menopause and can no longer bear children is a mystery to me as well. (I was dx with ALL last yr and am now in menopause at 34) I can tell you this: I was raised across the country from all my extended relatives. I was unable to celebrate any holidays with grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. And I felt the loss GREATLY! My husband and I are both committed to having extended family as part of our son's life. My husband grew up behind one grandmother, and was as close to his cousins on both sides of the family as he was to his siblings. I want the same for my child. I think you would deprive your child of something very important were you to try to limit or even eliminate his relationship with his grandparents. I had a difficult time for several years with my in laws, but now I wouldn't trade them for anything. If you could, I would recommend that you try to put this behind you and live your life. Nothing she says or does can change the fact that you are a survivor ( perhaps this can be pointed out) and YOU DID have a child. If you are really anguished over this, I would also recommend seeing a counselor or psychologist, just to try to sort out your feelings and maybe they would have some ideas on how to handle this in a way that would bring an end to all this stress for you. :) Due to a history of depression, I see a psychologist from time to time, just to make sure that I don't let anything in my life grow out of proportion or overwhelm me. Hope this helps. Feel free to email me. God bless. Kathy aka Tiggertoo

April123
Posts: 3
Joined: Nov 2003

Hi,
One of the best ways to help someone understand is one thing i did when my grndmother thought my father was for sure going to die of ALL leukemia was to go to book stores and find books on leukemia and help explain how the side effects of hair loss and others are only temporary it worked with my grandmother because all she needed was more help to understand.Hopefully that is all your step mother in law will need to is better understanding.

thudder
Posts: 2
Joined: Jun 2004

Cortney,
I am so sorry to hear what happened and am amazed to realize the ignorance around cancer that remains. One way that I have dealt with peoples reactions when I have shared about my cancer experience is to let them know I am not cancer. I had cancer and receieved treatment for it. It's not me. Many times this puts it in a new context. I also use the anology that a person has diabetes or parkinsons not they are parkinsons or diabetes. I lost my hair during my treatment experience when I was 7-8. I also have challenged the ignorance around this by asking "should we discriminate against people who are bald or with glasses." Unforgunately these are her insecurites and issues taking out on you in a very public format. I would feel all the emotions you shared. The hesitation and distance you have placed is normal. I your inlaws will be receptive and open to being educated. I could not imagine my in-laws not being part of my children's lives. I'm glad that your husband is supportive of you. I would encourage you to talk to him and share with him your concerns. I wish you all the luck and people are here for support. My prayers are with you and your family. John

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