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What do you do about family?

Posts: 13
Joined: Jan 2005

I am new to the board, but have already posted one question...here I am again.

This is my second encounter with ovarian cancer. I am 24 years old. It all started when I was 21 and still a senior in college. Here's my problem...my family.

I have been reading about how supportive family members have been. Many of you have discussed spouses and children and parents. My parents have not been there for me at all and I am trying to figure out how to get through to them. The first time I battled with the cancer was over winter break in my senior year. I had surgery to remove one of my ovaries. I had no chemo to follow up partly because I wanted to go back to Delaware to finish student teaching and graduate...priorities were a little out of line and I am a workaholic. The thing was, my parents never called to ask how I was or what was happening with my appointments in Delaware. I tried to offer the information but received little response. Finally, I got tired of trying. It was hard enough to be diagnosed with cancer, but to add to it the feeling the my own family couldn't be supportive would be unbearable.

Over time, I came to the conclusion that my family could not handle the fact that their daughter had cancer. I have allowed that to be their excuse.

Now, as I face the cancer in my other ovary and am going through chemotherapy, their excuse works less help me accept their lack of support. I have been married for five months,and my husband has been fantastic. His family (HIS WHOLE FAMILY) came over to my house after my first chemo session just to see that I was ok. They have been amazing. MY parents, on the other hand, never even called. I finally called them four days after the session to let them know that I was ok.

I don't really know what I should do. I would hate to cut them out of this whole situation, but it is painful to continue to be put off with one or two word answers. I know that I should focus on what I do have. I feel like I should say something again, but if there is one thing that cancer has taught me it is not to do or say things that you may regret because you just might not have the time to take it back and say the "I love you" you mean. Unfortunately, I am so angry inside that I am not sure I can control myself. My husband was even courageous enough to ask them to be supportive through the chemo. He held back his anger as he tried to politely convince them that their support was important to me. I have been unsuccessful with my attempts.

I am slightly lost on this one. Any advice from you would really be appreciated. It is just so strange...and really sad.

Thanks for your help...Marty

Posts: 18
Joined: Mar 2004

Hi, I know being sick is hard, especially when it is something like this and at your age. I know we always want our parents to be our support in hard times, but I know what it is like to go through a illness without having your parents. I lost my mom when I was 13 and my dad at 21, I just turned 30 in December. Over the last five years I have gone through several life threatening illnesses and my family is in Alabama and I live in NY,it was hard. The only thing that helped me was that my husband (who was my boyfriend at the time) took care of me. I don't know what I would have done without him and we had only been together a few months. I know there is no love and support that can replace the love and support of your mother or father, but sometimes you have to thrive off of the person that is giving you the support. Maybe it is like you said, they can't handle your illness. In the meantime focus on getting better and when you do get better you can tell them how you feel. Another way to feel better is keep a journal or write your parents a letter, tell them how you feel, DO N'T GIVE IT TO THEM, this is something to make YOU feel better, sometimes writing it down helps. Most important keep yourself busy and enjoy that wonderful man you have. I pray that you are well soon and I hope that I was able to help.

TealRibbon's picture
Posts: 44
Joined: May 2003


I think your advice to Marty is right on the money. The journal is a wonderful idea. A great place to vent without causing any pain to the family who is obviously having trouble accepting what is happening to their loved one.

This is advice we all may be able to use!


Posts: 1995
Joined: May 2003

I'm so sorry you must deal with this, especially at such a young age. But I think my first question would be, 'have your parents always been like this?' If so, then this situation may be no different and it's just a matter of realizing that and putting any other expectations aside. However, if that's out of character for them, you are very perceptive to think they possibly just can't deal with this. If that's the case, the only thing you can do is, as other posts suggested, focus on your well-being, your treatment, your health, AND hang on to the wonderful new family and husband that you have. Lean on them. Soak up all their love and support.

Do you have a strong faith? Through my ordeal, it was the driving force that kept me going, gave me hope. My family was very supportive, but there were times it was difficult for them also. Sometimes they didn't know the right words or the right thing to do - not their fault, just difficult for everyone. So that's when I knew I had to rely on my faith to help me through it. I was grounded before, but this situation solidified and strengthened everthing for me.

Now, I would just focus on you and your supportive family. If it makes you feel better, write a letter to your mom and dad expressing your concerns. It can be an opportunity for them to understand how you feel and what you are going through, while letting them know that YOU know it's hard for them as well.

I will be praying for you AND your families. Please let us know how things are going. You've come to the right place for info, sharing, and just to vent. Hope to hear from you soon. God Bless You.


Posts: 13
Joined: Jan 2005

Thank you all for your words of wisdom. I think the problem with me is that I keep hoping my family will turn themselves around and show some sign of support or well-wishing. I keep opening the door only to have none of them walk through. I hate to give up the hope that it will ever happen, but I guess if I give up and they do end up shining through, it will be a welcome surprise.
The journaling sounds like a great idea. I am an English teacher and love to write. Although I have done the letter writing, I have never sent it. I get the feeling it will alienate them even more. It just amazed me that when Christmas was here everyone acted like everything was ok when I was starting my Doxil treatment the following tuesday. It baffled me, but it REALLY baffled my husband. It is kind of embarrassing for me to have my in-laws more supportive than my own family (even though I know the in-laws wouldn't want me to feel that way).
Monika...my folks are very controlling people. They showed support on academics, sports, relationships, etc, but the controlled everything too. They planned my entire wedding, they demanded excellence in academics, and they said "NO" to my sister's boyfirend when he asked to marry her...they are strange. They are supportive when it benefits them...when it doesn't, they don't seem to be there. I thought their daughter's life would trump everything else though...who knew it wouldn't?
My faith is strong and has been a great place for me to escape these last few years. I pray every night for Him to open the eyes of my parents...no luck yet...He did give me my husband though...THANK YOU!!!!
John's (my husband) grandmother died the other day. The funeral was today. He has been such a support for me and I have been leaning on him so much, I think this was the one thing that crushed him. He had a complete breakdown. I got to be the one in the supportive role for once. It gave us the chance to show eachother that no matter what happens, we will always have eachother. It is a very refreshing feeling. Keep him in your thoughts and prayers as he works through his grief.
I keep you all in my prayers and appreciate all the ones sent up for me.

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