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how to keep a relationship going when a parent has cancer

Posts: 33
Joined: Apr 2010

I'm 25-years-old and have been in an amazing relationship for the past six months. We have planned our lives together and were planning on moving in together this month. A week ago, my dad was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. This has just destroyed my life. He is already disabled from a stroke he had a few years ago and we have been through so much. I also suffer from anxiety and depression already... Well, my girlfriend and I were used to being happy-go-lucky, staying with each other, dating, etc., but now I need to be at home with my family and I am so numb I feel like I can't have fun. She is upset because she just started a new job and her car brokedown and she needs me to be there for her, and it's hard for me when I feel like I need her to be here for me all the time through this. I feel like I have nothing to give right now, and even when I do try to have fun I feel guilty for doing so. She told me she is about to be tapped out with me not showing any emotion towards her. And to make it worse, I live in Mississippi and we are living next week to take my dad to start treatment in Houston Texas and M.D. Anderson. I just really need her to be here for me, but she needs me too and we don't know how to make it work. Any advice?

Posts: 74
Joined: Jan 2010

And some may comment that indeed I am the fool - to even try to respond to anyone who believes they are in "an amazing relationship" with someone that they are "not showing any emotion towards". This is really outside my life's experience and even though I know to keep my nose out of this I will proceed - perhaps because I have more than thirty years on you and age proffers some license to at least throw in my two cents.
First of all you can certainly need someone if indeed you love them: you cannot love someone just because you need them. (Read that again).
Secondly, it was your father who was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. You say this has destroyed your life. No, sorry, this is not about you. This is a big lesson to learn. You may feel "like you can"t have fun". This hardly compares with the reality of your Dad"s situation. You can empathize and support and care but if there are tears they are for him.
Finally,(thank goodness she says),you make things work by seeing things from the other's point of view, with kindness and genuine understanding and with care in the choice of your words, and most importantly in knowing that relationships that last are not always "happy go lucky", they are for better or worse. in sickness and in health, and perhaps if you are really lucky, for as long as you both shall live.
I would strongly advise you not rent the U-Haul just yet. My sincere good wishes and warm regards to your lover, to your father, to your family and to you. -connie.

Posts: 1416
Joined: Mar 2001

Sorry to hear about your Dad Peachy,

Life throws us curve balls all over the place and learning to cope early on in life will take you far. Unfortunately it is through the bad in our lives that we seem to learn the most. I once heard that truly living was living in the Good and the BAD of our lives.
I had just moved to the same city as my lover after 4.5 years of a long distance relationship but that time truly allowed us to get to know one another and probably the sole reason we are still together after 17 years.
I moved here ill and with an angry teen that needed another parent looking out for him reason we finally decided to truly get together. I moved from all my family and friends to be with her and her mother because she would never leave her mother. I am sure had I not moved to this amazing place Vancouver BC I would be dead because young women do not survive less of the stages of cancer than I had where I come from. Blessings are always in disguise...
Just as you put your life back together after your father's fight for life there will be other things to face and all one can do is face them head on.
CG I sure do like your words, haven't heard any like that for awhile, thanks
BE good to yourself first,

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Posts: 1
Joined: Apr 2010

I have been in a relationship for almost two years now and my mother who I live with has been diagnosed with colon cancer that has mets to the liver. The extreme of emotions I am going through has been unbelievable to say the least. However I am much older then you (44). I also have had depression and anxiety before my mother was diagnosed, and it has been multiplied by a thousand.

However, I am much older then you (44). I think at any age it is hard to deal with the thought of taking care of a parent, and losing a parent. What you are going through is normal emotions, eventually you will even out and start to enjoy things again. If you cannot, and you just need to be there for yourself and your family there isn't anything wrong with that but you may want to ask yourself if the relationship is what you need at this time.

Posts: 7
Joined: Apr 2012

First off, I am so sorry that you are having to go through everything. It can be hard when things are just placed in your lap that you have no choice over. However, 6 months is just the beginning of the end of the "honeymoon" period when real life and real personalities start to creap into your relationship. This is a hard enough time in general but add all of this going on and I can only imagine. I was with someone 9 1/2 years and I don't know if we would have made it through something like that (we were in our 20's). At that age it is so hard sometimes to see past a month.

If you need here there for you then you need to tell her that. No crystal ball, no "well she should know"... it has to be put out there, in words, by you, to her. No way getting around it. You can't expect her to know what you need, especially at only 6 months into it. If you can't tell her then write her a letter. If you can't do either and are worried about upsetting her or what her reaction might be then I don't think you are with the right person anyway. It sounds like she expects you to bend in every direction but she isn't willing to do the same. Her attitude over a broken down car vs. someone's life seems a little skewed to me. But that is just my take. It sounds like she needs someone to take care of her and you sound like you have more than enough to take care of right now besides having to take care of another needy person (trust me.. been there done that, stupidly wasted 4 years of my life on someone like that).

If it was ME (and I am NOT in your shoes) and wanted to make this work then I would simply have a sit down and acknowledge that I understand she needs my support but to clarify what she needs... to borrow my car, to figure out a ride to work, help with getting car repairs... be specific. And I would go into the same thing. All cards need to be laid out on the table, and with things up in the air like this now is not the time to try and get a place together... it just brings to mind roommate cases on People's Court.

Take a breath, take some time for you.. even if just a few minutes and put first things first. Everything else will even itself out in the end.


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