Jan 07, 2011 - 6:52 am
My 83 year-old mother was first diagnosed with lung cancer back in 1983. She underwent surgery to remove the tumor with follow-up radiation. She recovered physically but her personality changed radically with the diagnosis. Growing up she was fun, funny, and supported me and my family in everything we did. A truly great Mom. But once she heard the word "cancer" she became deeply depressed, angry, and mean. She also survived surgery for thyroid cancer a few years later, with no follow-up treatment. In 2008 she was diagnosed with Stage I breast cancer and had a mastectomy. Then in 2009 she was diagnosed with Stage IIIA lung cancer and had surgery to remove the tumor, with no follow-up treatment. She has been coping with cancer is some way or another for almost thirty years.
Problem is with each diagnosis and medical intervention her depression has deepened, and her anger and meanness make it very hard to be around her. She continually says mean things to me, and, especially, to my 85 year-old father who also has health problems. She is driving me away and I have a lot of guilt. She's wearing my Dad down, and I don't know how much longer he can tolerate his living situation. We have suggested counseling and support groups to her and she absolutely refuses. I suggest books and movies to occupy her time and she refuses all my suggestions. She even warned me not to get her a Netflix subscription for Christmas because it would be a waste of money. When she receives gifts she often looks at the giver and says, "What am I going to do with this?" My Dad puts it best when he says, "She's impossible." She is very thin, weak, and is getting to the point where she refuses to leave the house. There are many times when I can't believe the things that come out of her mouth. She is critical of me and everyone I love. I used to call my parents three-to-four times per week, and I'm now down to one phone call. I visit once per week. I truly dread having contact with her. I took my Dad out to a movie and dinner tonight. He tells me that she doesn't understand why my sister, my kids, and I don't call her much anymore. I'm at the end of my rope. I have all this guilt for not being there, but when I am there she really upsets me. What to do?