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UPDATE--> Using Cancer for Sympathy. Really?

LoveBabyJesus's picture
Posts: 1671
Joined: Jan 2011

Hi all -

I had mixed feeling about posting this but I need to vent. Does any of you have any family member who uses YOUR situation so he/she can get sympathy from people?

I have a story. This may be controversial as many of you are mothers and probably in a different situation than mine: you have loving relationships with your kids. I don't have the best relationship with my mother. Even after cancer.

My mother and I aren't so close. But we try. I'm now 34.

Recently she cut off all her hair. I never understood why she did that. I asked but her answer was "she didn't want to deal with it anymore". So I left it alone. Just the other day she asked for a wig. So I said I could take her to my hair guy who sold me my beautiful long hair wig when I was first dx. She agreed to do it. Yesterday we went and the guy tried on many different wigs on her. At some point he asked "are you done with treatments yet?" (he assume she was a cancer patient due to her haircut), and she didn't deny it! She didn't say she didn't have cancer!! I was caught off guard so I didn't deny it either (I wish I had). At the moment I didn't understand WHAT and WHY she was doing? At the very end, she tried to negotiate the price of the wig. What cancer patient has the energy to negotiate?! I didn't. I felt so horrible. I couldn't sleep because I was so angry. I am still angry. I called her this morning to ask what her intentions were, but she never answered so I emailed her one question: "Was it your intention to give the wig guy the impression that you had been sick when he asked you if you were in treatment? As you know, he does a lot of volunteer work and other service for cancer patients".And her response was "I just went along with his assumption". DUH! REALLY? Like I didn't notice?! And the worst part is that I was there! I am her daughter and I was dx with the illness at 32. Then right before we left, my guy gives her a long hug. I felt crushed. So now there's a lie between my wig guy and I. I can't do this. I feel like showing up and telling him the truth even if he thinks the worst of me now for not denying it.

I just don't know what is wrong with my mother. You don't have my past history about our relationship but she didn't raise me, her mother did (I miss her everyday, lost her to cancer). And ever since I moved with her - my biological mother- (at the age of 14) it has been hell with only few breaks of heaven. I don't understand what her intentions are and the worst part is she doesn't admit to doing anything wrong (as usual). I refuse to babysit her because I am tired. Is she looking for sympathy from people while using cancer as a tool?

What should I do about my wig guy? How should I approach him? I feel really bad inside.

Thank you all for listening.

P.S. I hate that this was my mother. And most of all, I hate that I am posting about this, but enough is enough, I need to let it all out before it eats me alive.

abrub's picture
Posts: 1605
Joined: Mar 2010

I recently posted here a link to an article about Munchausen's syndrome: http://csn.cancer.org/node/250483 Tho this mostly refers to the internet variety, there is doing what your mother is doing as well, and faking up front.

It is cruel and heartless and beyond my imagination. I am truly sorry that you are dealing with this with your own mother.

(An innocuous form of this is "couvade" where the husband shares the symptoms of pregnancy, whether it be the weight gain or the morning sickness. However, that is not by choice. It is a more subtle mental mechanism.)

You can tell your wig guy - you are deserving of his caring and attention, your mother is a grabber.


Posts: 6068
Joined: Oct 2010

My jaw is just dropped down in awe...NO words for now..I am sure some will come later...

Thinking of you..


MsGebby's picture
Posts: 659
Joined: Oct 2011

would be censored! OMG ... My relationship with my (late) mother was truly a disaster. She was only my mother because she gave birth to me . There is no way to know WHY anyone would try to garner attention in such a way. Jealousy perhaps. I am sure you are getting much love and caring from those around you. I honestly believe that people who do these things have very low self esteem. But a parent ??

Now ... about the wig guy. I would totally rat your mom out. You shouldn't feel embarrassed for yourself. You did nothing wrong. You were caught off guard. He sounds like an angel of a guy. His heart is true. I just hope he doesn't feel like he was sucker punched by someone with no class. I know all about moms who are needy, mean spirited and spiteful.

Please PM me if you want to talk. I am here for you.



Posts: 1148
Joined: Dec 2010

Your mother's actions are despicable. I,too, like you, would be horrified to see someone do that. If it were me, I would tell the wig guy the truth. Your mother needs to be stopped in her tracks. That man sounds like a wonderful person and asset to the cancer community. If I were in your shoes, I would tell him the truth. He seems like a genuine, nice person and it would be a shame to let someone like your mother pretend to have cancer to get attention and serve her psychologically deranged personality.

I feel so bad for you. I hope you can figure out how you will handle this.

Posts: 3599
Joined: Aug 2009

WWJD/What Would Jesus Do

To me - that is your answer then and now - based on your screen name.

Posts: 3599
Joined: Aug 2009

OOPS - Double Post

SIROD's picture
Posts: 2204
Joined: Jun 2010


My 2 cents worth is to quietly explain situation to the wig guy. If he is as caring as stated, it will be ok. Your mother probably can't help herself. I am sorry that this has happen to you.



hope4thebest's picture
Posts: 108
Joined: Aug 2012

So sorry to hear that you have had this experience. Psychological illness is documented throughout our society, so I am going to bring that up as an explanation for such behavior. No excuse, and you have your own illness to take care of, so I hope you can separate yourself as much as possible.

I am 42 and live with my Mom who is 66. At times the child will parent the parent... a role reversal. I think the community would not judge you by your Mother's behavior, every human being has their own identity. If it is bothering you, explain what happened to the wig guy. Just approach him and tell him it was bothering you so you want to share the story. Whatever choice you make, I think he will be genuine and forgiving.

At least you have the memories of your Grandmother to push you forward. Both of mine had breast cancer and have been a source of strength for me, despite the fact that one succumbed to bc and one did not. They are our pioneers.

It sounds like your mom is wanting to get in on all the nurturing you have rec'd. You are lucky to have had such support. She probably does not have such a solid network on her life.

Best of luck, I have seen this in my own family with my sister having a child and then my mother raising her for the critical years. Not easy, but treasure the time you have and take the distance you need.

Posts: 8930
Joined: Aug 2009

First of all, I thank our Lord that you had a Mother figure - who was loving, caring,
and provided you with Love. She taught you the difference between right, and wrong which
makes you the lovely women you are today.

My relationship with my own Mom is something you would NEVER see in a Hallmark or Lifetime movie. But, is what it is. Do I hurt? YES, but not all the time -- because I distance
myself from the hurt. hope4thebest offered the same advise I would ..

Gather support, and love from those around you. Trusted friends become our 'family'
of choice.

Gentle hugs, and strength my friend.

Vicki Sam

Lynn Smith
Posts: 1265
Joined: Mar 2011

I was raised"Honesty is the Best Policy.Go by that and explain this to your wig guy.He wants to help cancer patients and your mom went along with it but was dishonest.I know you're not like her because it is upsetting for you.I understand your embarrassment at the time.If you confronted this in the store with your mom it could have brought some problems and could've got nasty.Now make it right with him.That's what matters.

I can see why your mom didn't raise you and your grandmother did.Your grandmother was a role model for you and made you who you are.Honest and bothered that your biological mom is so rude and dishonest.I wish I could say "I DON'T have cancer".I can't imagine someone not having it and pretending they do.It's not a game.It's REAL and all us survivors know it.I feel upset someone would do such a terrible thing.It's degrading.

I hope the best for you. I think I see why it's hard to have any relationship with your mom. I'm much older than you but not sure I would want to be around your mom.At least not often. holidays would be enough for me having someone like her as a mother.

Lynn Smith

CypressCynthia's picture
Posts: 4017
Joined: Oct 2009

First, you are not responsible for your mother's actions. It is always hard to speak up against one's own family and her narcisstic behavior put you in a very tough spot. And it does sound as if she craves attention?

Second, you are not alone. I have a relative whom I have never been as close to because of many similar issues. I do not see her often and, when I do, it is on my terms now. She is what my psychiatrist sister calls toxic and, although I love her, I have found it necessary to limit my exposure. I also warn others (many find her charming) to never, ever have financial dealings with her

Whether you tell the wig guy or not will be a difficult decision, but, remember, it is your mother who is behaving badly. I would not let her take advantage of him again though. Maybe you could warn him like I warn others to avoid future financial transactions with your mom?

Many, many people have a relative that they are not completely proud of (remember Bill Clinton's brother and Jimmy Carter's brother, some of the Reagan family). You are so not alone! I hate that you even have to worry about this on top of having cancer. Big (((hugs))).

LoveBabyJesus's picture
Posts: 1671
Joined: Jan 2011

I love you all so much. I am so grateful to have such support in my life. Thank you for taking the time to respond.

Here’s an update.

Today (12/7), I went to see the wig guy. I had gone earlier this week but he was off. So when I walked into his salon he was in the back building some shelve. He asked me to walk in so I did. I thanked him for taking the time with us last weekend and for his generosity. Then I told him that there might have been a misunderstanding, if my mother, at any given point, had given him the impression that she was ill. And if so, that I was very sorry. Then I burst out crying like a 2-year old (UGH!!). I was embarrassed. He said he assumed it because the front desk had told him she was so it didn’t really originate from my mother (which made me feel slightly better). But the problem continued to be that she did not deny it. And neither did I so I apologized for it (in tears, UGH). He called me “silly” and told me he loves me. I thanked him again. Then I offered to pay for the 15% and he said NO. That I had bought two wigs from him and that’s why he gave us the discount. Not to worry. He then gave me a hug and a kiss. I left thanking him and wishing him happy holidays in case I don’t see him again. The end.

This was hard for me, especially because I am very sad about missing my grandmother who died on a January 2nd. The holidays are hard for me. Recently, I saw a tape I recorded of her of one of her last days. Haven’t watched the entire video in years. I’m not well emotionally but there will be better days.

Now to face my mother. UGH.

I’ve been revising a letter I am working on to send her because I am not sure I can express all I feel in person. Plus she wouldn’t let me finish. She will start acting defensive so I opted for the email/letter. I will keep you updated on how this ends.

I feel at peace now that I told the wig guy the truth. Nothing better than being honest. “And the truth shall set you free”.

Thank you all again for your support and love.

abrub's picture
Posts: 1605
Joined: Mar 2010

I wrote a letter to my mother some years ago, because I had difficult stuff to say, as do you, and I knew she'd interrupt, and I'd end up crying.

Sending the letter, I know she read it. Unfortunately, its effect was short-lived; my mother could not understand what she was doing that hurt me. However, I was able to say what I needed to say without interruption and without crying in front of her.

Take care of your self, and don't let your mother hurt you.

Wishing you the best,

Alice (Been there, done that.)

MsGebby's picture
Posts: 659
Joined: Oct 2011

I think a letter is great idea but I honestly don't think she will be gracious in accepting it. Perhaps this letter can be put away and sent to her at a later date. Actually, writing is a great way to put things into perspective. You can write another letter and another letter and another. It can be a journal (sort of) written to someone who can't appreciate what life with cancer is like. Then, someday, you can just hand her all of those letters and tell her to read them after you leave.

I can't hand my letters to my mom cuz she's gone. I wish I had time thought of doing this when my feelings were so raw regarding her attitude towards me. We did not have a mother/daughter relationship. She hated me and made no bones about it. I suffered at her hands. Now that cancer has reared its ugly head, I feel better off without her here. I don't need to feel like a failure (0nce again) because I got cancer.

Enough about me.

Think about the idea of holding onto the letter(s) and then one day present them to her.



LoveBabyJesus's picture
Posts: 1671
Joined: Jan 2011

I'm still trying to figure out if I should write her a letter or not (although I started it already). Yesterday, in the hope that she would say something different, I asked this (in writing):

"I need to know why you didn't deny that you have cancer in front of Andrew (and me). Why?"

And she responded:

"You are kidding, right?
Thought I may have a better deal."

I am feeling broken. I am hurt. I feel hate right now. This is "grade A" wrong at all levels. She admitted it in writing! At least before I had the benefit of doubt, but not anymore. She confirmed it. What should I do now? One thing I know for sure, I do not want to see her right now. I can't. (God forgive me, but please understand me).

I am so sorry I am venting to all of you about this. Some of you are dealing with MORE serious issues. This is the place I can come to. My mother is the only family member I have here. This is not easy.

Thank you all for listening to me and for being here.


renee616's picture
Posts: 181
Joined: Apr 2011


I found your post at last!. i understand the pain & hurt that you are feeling. Now that you"ve recieved your Mothers answer, I do think you need to accept the fact that this is her problem & her issue alone to deal with. It was a despicable act on her part. God is the one to forgive her. This relationship does not seem to be healthy for you. Thinking if ITS at all possible, that you can distance yourself from her, the better it will be for you. When She asks why.....Tell her that She hurt you deeply, cancer has tried to steal away your Life away & you cannot abide ANYONE making light of it or using it for a discount for goodness sake! Just becauce Our relatives are our relatives doesn"t mean we have to put up with them. I suggest you talking to someone about ALL the issues you have with your Mother. God knows you"ve had enough to deal with without this! Don"t waste any more precious energy on trying to 'figure' her out. You can"t fix her. If you could"ve then you would have been raised by her & not your Grandma. My Moms grandma was her "Mommy" & Her Mom was her "Mother". But she had that rolemodel in her Life & so did you! Take that love that you & she had for each other & go out there & get healthy & be the best you that you can be, dispite the circumstances. All you can do is pray for your Mother.

Hugs & prayers! Worry about yourself now! <3


LoveBabyJesus's picture
Posts: 1671
Joined: Jan 2011

Thank you Renee for your answer. I've been trying to leave this behind. It is difficult when its your own mother. We haven't spoken to each other, not even for the holidays. And to make it fair, this was her last response to this entire mess:

You explained to me what he does. When he asked me, I couldn't understand why he assumed that I was sick in the first place; I thought you might have told him that I was sick. At the time, it seemed awkward to me to refute you in front of him, so I went along. Also, he asked us BOTH if I was done with treatment and all you said was "no." You could have just as easily clarified the situation on the spot if you wanted to but you didn't. It's a bit too convenient to blame me for something that you share just as much responsibility in. Bottom line: if this issue means as much to you as you say it does, then you would have taken action that morning...but you didn't. That leads me to believe that you are, therefore, just looking for an excuse to start drama with me and to be honest, it's getting old. 
My previous email to you was seriously a joke; I even asked if you we're kidding, consequently, I answered with a joke. I could not understand why you were asking that question. I thought it was clear. I also thought you knew me better than that. The fact that you would even think that I would willingly offend you or anyone dealing with cancer, a disease that runs in OUR FAMILY, truly offends me. How disappointing. 
I am not too sure she is 100% honest. I am not sure this entire thing was, perhaps, "a misunderstanding". One thing I know for sure, she doesn't act like a mother. She shows no sign of empathy towards my situation. A mother would have been more sensitive in her response. The above response, which was her last (and I never responded), has a tone of being self-absorbed. As always.
I decided to seek help. I will see a therapist to try and live my life as happy as I can. If she ever comes around, we will have a conversation, in person. For now, I am just taking it one day at a time.
Thank you again for your support and love.



LoveBabyJesus's picture
Posts: 1671
Joined: Jan 2011

double post


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Joined: Jun 2012


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