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Dealing with anger from father with cancer

Justinjason
Posts: 2
Joined: Feb 2013

MY FATHER WAS DIAGNOSED A YEAR AND A HALF AGO WITH PANCREATIC AND LIVER CANCER WITH AN ENDOCTRINE TUMOR.  THE SAME KIND OF CANCER  STEVE JOBS HAD.  I RUN HIS COMPANY FOR HIM AND WORK WITH HIM DAILY.  HE IS 77 YEARS OLD AND HAS NOT MISSED A DAY OF WORK OR TWO DAYS OF 18 HOLES OF GOLF.  HE IS GETTING VERY CRUEL AND HOSTILE TOWARD ME ON A DAILY BASIS.  I AM TRYING NOT TO ENGAGE IN HIS BEHAVOIR BUT AS THIS GOES ON IT IS HARDER AND HARDER HE SAYS SOME  VERY MEAN AND VERY HURTFUL THINGS TO ME.  THE BUISNESS IS FAILING IN THIS ECONOMY TO MAKE THINGS WORSE WHICH HE BLAMES ME FOR.  HE ATTACKS ME PERSONALLY AND ALSO SAYS VERY MEAN  AND CRUEL THINGS ABOUT MY CHILDREN.  I WANT TO WALK AWAY , HOW DO YOU DO THIS WITH HIS CANCER.  HAS ANYONE SEEN  EXTREME  ANGER IN THE CANCER VICTIM.  PLEASE I NEED HELP AND ADVICE.  I KNOW THIS IS NOT ABOUT ME AND HE IS DEALING WITH FAR WORSE.

Vee1
Posts: 59
Joined: Nov 2012

Yes, I have seen anger from the cancer patient. 

 

And, I have been the recipient of anger on levels I didn't know were possible.  I have no medical school background, but what I have come to figure out is that a sick person pretty much loses control over almost everything in their life.  Being mad at someone--especially their caretaker--is sort of the one thing they can control.  In fact, I think sometimes it really isn't anger so much as it is fear that they are losing the biggest fight of their life.  Sometimes it may seem so hopeless to them I think they try to get their loved ones pushed away so it is easier to say "goodbye."

 

Whatever the reason, it doesn't make being on the receiving end any easier.

 

What I have tried in the past is to talk with the person and let them know:

 

I love them.

I hate that they have cancer, too.

That I am going to be with them through this.

That I feel hurt when such hurtful things are said.

Please let's be on the same side instead of against each other.

 

I have also talked to the MDs about the anger in the hopes there may be a RX reason behind it...

 

I am not sure any of this helps, but you are definitely not alone.

-V

Justinjason
Posts: 2
Joined: Feb 2013

Thank you for your kind words.  There was a lot of very good advice that I will hold close and dear during the outburst.  I really appreciate your reply

Deborah J Cornwall's picture
Deborah J Cornwall
Posts: 32
Joined: Feb 2013

Justinjason, you're absolutely right about the economic conditions not being your fault; my own business tanked during the economic crisis, so I'm sure you're feeling worn out both from fighting the economy and feeling like you're fighting your father.

I've interviewed dozens of caregivers for a book, and I believe from what you've said that a good part of what's triggering his anger is his feeling that he no longer has any control over his life. A crisis of control hits everyone at the moment of diagnosis, and if your Dad has always been a pretty controlling guy, this may have truly thrown him for a loop.

Perhaps one option is to engage in a supportive conversation (which you may have already done), telling him how much you love him, how you understand he's not feeling any sense of control since his diagnosis, and explaining that you're looking for ways to engage with him to help him overcome the anger. He may be able to tell you some things you can do that will help him feel more of a sense of control at least regarding the business. Another option would be to talk with a social worker at his cancer center for some ideas. It sounds like it could be hard to get him into a support group, but it might help you be more tolerant and understanding of his outbursts.

As a cancer survivor myself (although a minor case), I can understand the feelings that you no longer have any control, and perhaps recognizing this will help both of you.

 

Deborah J Cornwall's picture
Deborah J Cornwall
Posts: 32
Joined: Feb 2013

Justinjason, you're absolutely right about the economic conditions not being your fault; my own business tanked during the economic crisis, so I'm sure you're feeling worn out both from fighting the economy and feeling like you're fighting your father.

I've interviewed dozens of caregivers for a book, and I believe from what you've said that a good part of what's triggering his anger is his feeling that he no longer has any control over his life. A crisis of control hits everyone at the moment of diagnosis, and if your Dad has always been a pretty controlling guy, this may have truly thrown him for a loop.

Perhaps one option is to engage in a supportive conversation (which you may have already done), telling him how much you love him, how you understand he's not feeling any sense of control since his diagnosis, and explaining that you're looking for ways to engage with him to help him overcome the anger. He may be able to tell you some things you can do that will help him feel more of a sense of control at least regarding the business. Another option would be to talk with a social worker at his cancer center for some ideas. It sounds like it could be hard to get him into a support group, but it might help you be more tolerant and understanding of his outbursts.

As a cancer survivor myself (although a minor case), I can understand the feelings that you no longer have any control, and perhaps recognizing this will help both of you.

 

Neenon's picture
Neenon
Posts: 5
Joined: Mar 2013

Dear Justinjason,

I'm sorry that you're going through that and I can't give you any advice only that I am going through the same thing only with my younger brother. He has stage 4 stomach cancer and is getting close to hospice care. I am his caretaker 24/7. There is no one else, just me, his older sister. He has no wife, no girlfriend, our Dad died of cancer and our Mom is too old. I just posted today on the forum desperate for some help or relief if only just to let some of my own emotions out. My brother has such extreme anger, all over nothing, it makes me cry every night, then I feel guilty because I know he is going through so much pain and hurt with only a few months left to live up to maybe 2yrs with chemo. I never get angry or say anything back to him but sometimes I wonder if all cancer patients are this angry? I would think most cancer patients live out the most of their lives in peace and kindness with love for the ones who care for them. I don't know how much more of his 24/7 abuse and anger I can take before I break down. Is there such a thing as going too far with the abuse and anger? Is everyone who is dying justefied in mistreating and abusing people? I understand there is alot of anger from this. I've read it. I've talked to people. The things that come out of my brother's mouth are also very mean and cruel and sometimes I think that there just aren't any excuses for treating the people you love cruelly. Somedays I wish I could just walk away too. I guess there alot of us who are also going through this? Maybe if we talked to each other it will help us get through this, just like we are living day by day with the cancer that is killing our loved one. Please feel free to talk to me anytime if that would help. I lost my Father, Grandfathers and 3 Uncles to cancer but I never were there caretakers so I never got to see this kind of anger until now. Take care, sending wishes and prayers for your family and Dad.

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