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Don't know what to do for her anymore

Posts: 2
Joined: Oct 2011

My sister had breast cancer last year and I was there for here through it all. I never thought twice about helping her in any way. I did it because I love her. Now that she is better she is just a different person. I know she is going to be different, but I thought she was going to be a happy person that her life was saved. Instead she has turned into a person that only thinks of herself. Her husband has talked to me about some of the things going on and it is always about her. She didn't get cancer and walk away and be thankful for her kids, her husband, and the family that was by her side for everything. She walked away to only think about what she wants. She has even put herself before her very young children. She has used the cancer to get things from companies and people have given her money for cancer benefits and she has turned around and spent the money shopping. Well I tell her that she is wrong for what she is doing she gets very angry at me and tells me that her life has been so bad that she has to put herself first. I do understand that to a point but when you have 3 children they should come first. I feel so distant from her. Like I don't even know her anymore, and I am not liking how she acts anymore. What do you do when the person you love has changed so much for the bad because of cancer?

jimwins's picture
Posts: 2111
Joined: Aug 2011

Hello and welcome to this site. I'm sorry you're having
to go through this with your sister. You'll find lot's
of supportive and caring people here :).

It would help to have a time frame on this. If she's been behaving like this
for a month, it could just be temporary where if it's been a year,
that could be a different story.

Coming face to face with cancer and the possbility of "the end" does
change the person going through it and caregivers too. I'm sure you
have gone through some changes since this event. I've changed and am
changing. I'm definitely looking at life differently, getting rid of
"trash" (unimportant things) in my life, thinking about things I've
never done but wanted to, re-priortizing, how precious time is now, etc.

I can understand a certain amount of selfishness after the treatment is
over and you're feeling better. I hope to do something nice for me when
the treatments are over and I am in better shape. Though it's probably not
in my budget, I may go to Europe with a friend some time next year - because
part of me feels like I deserve it. I've spent many years working, doing for
others and not really doing much for me at times so I think it's time to do
a little something for me. Hopefully that's where she's coming from.

If she's ignoring her children and husband completely, that's not good.
If this has only been going on a short time, then maybe she'll come around
on her own. If it's been going on for a long time, then it would probably
help if she got some kind of counseling. Maybe she just hasn't dealt with
some things and could use some help.

I'm sure some others will chime in here and give their points of view and

Hang in there, "blossom".



Posts: 2
Joined: Oct 2011

Thanks Jim. It has been months that the change has been happening. I do understand there will be a point that you want to for yourself after having cancer, but it is getting worse. I am just worried that she has been doing just for herself for so long that she is pushing everyone else away. I have been told by people she just isn't the fun loving person she use to be and that she doesn't really talk to anyone anymore. It is like she forgot about all the people that loved her and was by her side through it all. The thought of losing any of my sisters is hard to think about. To see my sister fight cancer and win is one of the happiest moments in my life, but feel like I have lost my sister to it anyway. I just don't know how to get her to see that she can't push everyone away and just be there for herself. She has kids that need her, a husband that loves her, and friends that adore her. When I tried to talk to her about taking money from charity she got really mad at me. This is not the person my parents raised. This is not even the same girl from one year ago. She would never steal from something so important. I don't know what else I can do for her.

jimwins's picture
Posts: 2111
Joined: Aug 2011

Hi Blossom,

Thanks for the information. I'm not a person trained in counseling
and psychology so what I say is strictly from a layman's view.

Assuming something in treatment(s) didn't effect her mentally and this
is not a result of that, I think counseling would be something to consider.
However, convincing your sister of that may be a challenge.

Maybe a place to start would be for you to talk with someone (a professional),
to get some ideas? At the very least, maybe they can help you deal with it
and understand what's going on?

I know you love your sister and this has to be difficult.

I hope some others will respond who maybe have been through this to shed more
light for us all. I do hope things will get better.

Hang in there and keep us posted.



forme's picture
Posts: 1162
Joined: Aug 2010

Hi Orangeblossom

I just read your post and Jim's reply I agreee with all that he said. Another thought, which is scary to think about is the possibility of a brain metastisis. That can cause a real change in normal behavior. And it can be gradual to abrupt. My mother in law has brain mets and it did cause her to change over many months.
If she is not being followed by her oncologist right now, maybe you and her could set up an appointment and go together. Ask about a brain scan to rule out that possibility. Then if all is fine, ask about counseling. Your sister has been through a very tramatic time and that can cause all kinds of new issues. I hope and pray that it's just the after effect and that some professional help is in order.
If it is due to brain mets, then you can go down that road with her and get her the treatments she needs.
It sounds like she has really changed and that should not be ignored. Please keep us posted to her outcome and keep coming back for yourself too.
I'll be thinking only positive thoughts for your dear sister.


jimwins's picture
Posts: 2111
Joined: Aug 2011

Lisha brought up a good point.
Hopefully it isn't the case.

Warm and positive thoughts to you and your sister.


Barbara53's picture
Posts: 658
Joined: Aug 2009

The others here have great ideas, but I wanted to point out that you may not be looking at "my sister has changed" so much as "my sister is suffering from a mental illness brought on by the stress of cancer." Just like a fever indicates an infection, the destruction of close relationships (husband, children, sister) indicates mental illness. You don't have to call it that, but counseling is probably the best medicine. Stick by her the best you can.

I_Promise's picture
Posts: 213
Joined: Aug 2011

When the brain scans come back negative for any pathology, then maybe it is time to get her some counselling. She has faced her own mortality, she has been through hell. Stick by her as much as possible. She still needs you. The effect of cancer emotionally are not over.


LilChemoSmoker's picture
Posts: 192
Joined: Oct 2011

I have to agree with Barbara. My sister-in-law went through treatment for stage 3b breast cancer. During the treatment process and til present, she has done a really good job of isolating herself from family and divorced her husband. Though I can understand being unhappy in a marriage, she has had absolutely no care for the impact this has had on her children. She has put herself on a pedestal and has decided (verbally stated) that she is fine and it is everyone else that has problems. She has taken no responsibility for her verbal assaults on others, much less the impact of her behavior (modeling hostility) on her children. Over time (it has been 5 years sense her treatment) the children have learned to place themselves on an arrogant pedestal as well. They push friends and acquaintances away before they ever have a chance at a truly intimate relationship.

This has been devastating to many of us in the family and continues to concern all of us. We have suggested psychotherapy many times with negative response of course. But we still plug away as we know that behavioral cognitive therapy would be the best medicine for this type of situation. Don't give up, repetition is key and with god's grace we may prevail and help them help themselves instead of sabotaging their relationships.
Caregiver to Eric (chemosmoker) Esophageal Cancer Stage IVA

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