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42 year old daughter has terminal renal cell carcinoma, spread to lymph nodes in neck and one "spot" in her chest

Posts: 1
Joined: Jan 2011

I am in great distress. My 42 year old daughter has terminal cancer (RCC) . She is married to a wonderful man and has three sons (20, 18, and 9) I am heart-sick and feel so much anguish and fear that she will not be able to finish raising the 9 y-o. That is her biggest heartache also. She had one kidney removed over two years ago; I cared for the boys and their home while my daughter recovered from the surgery. They are self-employed farmers, able to hire the outside work done, and my son-in-law stayed inside the house for two weeks seeing to my daughter. I began to notice that when the older boys came around by their mother (from another marriage) they were either ignored or dismissed. It was like my daughter and her husband were in their own private world. I could see the hurt and confusion in the older boys, but this was a time to keep my daughter calm and surrounded by love, and not INTERFER with comments. But things have escalated to a point where I am uncomfortable, sometimes hurt in my heart, and times when I see the children yearning for some time and affection from their mother. In the meantime, my daughter is receiving many gifts from her husband - android cell phone, coffee brewing station, laptop computer, and smaller items. When she saw an expensive new car she wanted, in no time they had purchased it. They are going, the two of them, to Jamaica later this month and she is planning a summer vacation to the southeast coast, the family will stay in a rental home for a week. They are not rich, but probably financially okay, and anyway that is not the issue. What is concerning me is my daughter seems to be developing a narccistic personality - she is always right, she is possessive, she can say whatever hurtful thing she wants to anyone and her husband has stated that no one is talk to her in any upsetting way (husband tells me she talks mean and hurtful to him but he lets it roll on by). There seems to be a strangeness between my daughter and I and recently when she was accusing me of something I was not guilty of, I stood up for myself and tried to talk with her about the situation. She didn't speak to me for 2 1/2 weeks, wouldn't return my phone calls, my pleas to talk things over and my expressions of love. I have been sick to my stomach since this happened. I finally called her husband to see if he could suggest something for me to do. Shortly thereafter she called me on the phone but when I tried to explain to her my feelings, she began screaming at me, threatening to hang up. I lost my temper and yelled back, then began to cry and apologize. Her voice full of hate and mine full of sadness. Now I do not know which way to think: (1) do I back off, apologize, and just watch her behavior escalate into more self-centeredness. I am walking on egg shells around her which makes it difficult to enjoy our time together. (2) Or do I find a new way to approach this, to try to gently guide her away from this behavior? I am at a loss to think of ways to do this, and maybe I should forget the idea altogether. She may some day look inside herself, and become troubled that she has hurt others. I wonder sometimes if the medication is affecting her behavior. That could be very possible, plus the emotional side to this is extremely difficult for my daughter, for all of us. The illness is changing us all. Can anything be done to keep my daughter from what I consider ruinous behavior As I write this I can see that this type of behavior may be "normal," maybe a given as a side effect of medication as well as the horror of the future. My wish is for my daughter to have many quality days and years ahead. We have not given up hope as new medications are being discovered every day. Someone could deliver a miracle in a pill or technique. In any case, I want to have a loving relationship with my daughter, but find it very difficult when she acts mean and hurtful. My own health, mental and physical, is at a very low place and I would be making a mistake for my sake to not bring this out in the open to look at it and ask for help. Can you help me? I'm open to listening and then doing what I need to do for my daughter. She is my oldest of four, has been a leader in our family, likes to have fun and can herself be a lot of fun. Down under the pain she has a good heart. She has done a fantastic job with her sons (and I do tell her that, told her when we had the telephone fight). Her way of dealing with this often is to buckle down and plow through it. Kind of a bull-type strength. And sometimes she tries to deny it is happening. She has said she hasn't given up hope, that she plans to be here a good many years. When the doctor came out of surgery to report he had successfully removed her kidney, he said we should think in terms of five years, and if in five years my daughter is still here, then we think about another five years. Well, that was shocking, but now I realize a lot can happen medically in five years, new discoveries are happening/being worked on every day. HOPE is a big think with us, with all cancer patients I imagine. If you give up HOPE, then what is there.
Thanks for reading this, if I have sent it to the right place. Otherwise, advise me where I can search for help next.

luz del lago's picture
luz del lago
Posts: 452
Joined: Jul 2010

Be patient with your daughter, be patient with yourself. A diagnosis of cancer is devastating to everyone involved! I learned that first, that as my husband's caregiver, I had to deal and learn to cope with cancer in our lives. How could I care for him if I was so devastated? He ,also, changed with the onset of this disease. He would not share his feelings, thoughts, fears with me. And at times would withdraw and not even be loving as he had always been. In the beginning I talked to him about this, we even went to therapy, same therapist, different times. He went to get help in dealing with the immensity of his diagnosis and to be able to adjust and cope, in order to feel happiness and fulfillment for whatever time he had. Not an easy task for anyone, even under normal circumstances.
I also learned that some of his behavior was him struggling and dealing with all of this. Not that our feelings don't matter, but there are times when we have to let things go. Just be there, love, listen and hold their hand. Also, there may come times that you need to remove yourself, for a bit. Take a breather. Seeing and knowing that our loved one has cancer is very difficult and emotionally draining. Now is not the time to bring up issues. You say your daughter is wonderful and fun loving, you have already done a great job raising her. That time in your life is over. Be her friend, care for her, let her know how much you love her.
Sending prayers and good wishes for you and your family,

jeffn52's picture
Posts: 2
Joined: Jun 2003

I know what you are going through, I have just lost my wife a few months back after her 2 yr. battle with Esophageal cancer. The mood swings and nastiness is all apart of the morality process. My wife hated the rest of the world, for just getting on with life, while she was dieing. Be very patient and supportive and just realize its not your daughters intention to be hurtful because she is going through a hell of a lot of emotions herself.
Please except my heartfelt sorry and blessings for what you are going through and what is yet to come.

kingcole42005's picture
Posts: 178
Joined: Oct 2010

I'm sorry I don't agree with the be patient with your daughter advice. Yes she might be dying but doesn't give her the right to act the way she is. Her children, all of them, should be her number one priority. I'm a cancer patient, I may not live 5 years, who knows, but does that give me the right to treat my family like crap, no. When I was diagnosed my first thought was what are they going to do without me? Then what can I do to make their life better, not my life!! If I were her husband I would strongly suggest family counseling to her. She is screwing up her kids big time. Also she has no right to talk to you like that! Get counseling yourself, because unless she does it sound like she's just going to get worse and you do not deserve it. I don't care what anyone says, no one has the right to treat people badly, especially your family.

Posts: 40
Joined: Jan 2011

kingcole on this one. My dad was just dx'd with cancer, and we told him, you have 2 months to get anything off your chest in anyway you see fit,work through your dx ( maybe a time line is NOT a good thing ) but we refuse to treat my dad with kid gloves. we talk to him, and treat him as we always would. If he is being crotchety, I let him know about it, and so does my mom. I do not like the sound of the way the boys are being treated, that is not very nice at all. I think what she is forgetting is she IS NOT GOING THROUGH THIS ALONE, this is not just HER FIGHT, her feelings, her anger, her fear etc... This process is for eveyone who loves her. She is not the only one going through this. i feel bad for those boys, and I agree counseling is a good start, and if she refuses to do it, someone needs to NICELY let her know what damage she is doing to those boys. I am not trying to be mean about this, but it breaks my heart to hear that children are being shoved aside, I have 4 very pecious babies, and my time left ( if I were in her shoes ) would be ABOUT THEM. i hope you are able to get though this, it must be so very hard on you. *hugs*


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