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Telling my daughter

JayhawkDan's picture
Posts: 206
Joined: Apr 2012

I've struggled with what to tell my daughter about my dx. It seems like the good people on this board are pretty open with loved ones about their disease, but I've hedged with my daughter. She found out she was pregnant just after my stage iv, chemo for life, terminal, blah, blah, blah, dx. And we were getting a 2nd diagnosis at the same time. The second onc., from a recently designated NCI hospital, said we didn't know enough yet to lay that whole dx on me, so we had some hope and decided not to lay the whole thing on Megan -- other than I had cancer, obviously. Well, the 2nd onc has since concurred with the orginal dx, and we're simply hoping to keep me alive long enough for other treatments to come along, as many of you here are in the same boat. I'm doing well on chemo -- CEA has dropped from the original 44 to 1, and 3 sets of scans have shown shrinkage in the original rectal tumor, as well as the mets to liver (inoperable due to how extensive the lesions are), so that's been encouraging. We're staying the course as long as it's effective, then may possibly do surgery on the primary, and radiation on the liver...but that's down the road. Our grandson was born about 3 weeks ago, and is a real joy and bright spot in our lives, and we're having so much fun with him. But I'm hesitant to have the full conversation with her and keep putting it off. My wife doesn't think I should -- that my daughter is a smart girl and probably realizes that we're in a tough spot and it just doesn't need to be said. On the other hand, my thought is she deserves to know the "whole truth" so she understands our time together may very well be limited. What say you, board? Do I lay it all out to the new Mother who is really enjoying life right now, or do I not burden her. Maybe tell her when the grandson is at least a couple of months old? I respect all you folks and wonder how you've handled telling your loved ones. If it wasn't for the baby, I'm pretty sure I would have told her by now, but I'm using that as a crutch, I think. Thanks in advance, and hugs. Dan

Lovekitties's picture
Posts: 3270
Joined: Jan 2010

Your question hits home for all of us with loved ones...when to tell and how much to tell.

You say your daughter knows you have cancer and are in treatment.

Has she asked any questions? If not, then maybe she is not ready to hear more yet.

Above all do not sugar coat your answers if she asks the questions.

Even with your second opinion confirmation, your time here on earth has not yet been determined. There are folks here who have gotten far worse news and have far exceeded original prognosis.

In my opinion, I guess I would hedge between a spill it all conversation and don't tell. Answer any questions she has as honestly as you can. Let her know about your treatments and plans. If she asks directly what the prognosis is, then give her the facts, but follow it up with "there is always hope", because there is.


Marie who loves kitties

YoVita's picture
Posts: 590
Joined: Mar 2010

Great answer Marie. I talked to my son after my initial diagnosis. He was 23 at the time. He was living with us at the time so I couldn't really keep it a secret even if I wanted to. Since, the initial diagnosis, I've lived long enough to see him fall in love, hope to live long enough for his wedding next year. I did ask him once how much information does he want. Obviously kids are all different but he said he wants to know the plan but not the details. So that's what I've given him. Best of luck to you Dan.

Momof2plusteentwins's picture
Posts: 506
Joined: May 2012

I have 4 children- daughter Jennifer is 29, son Tim is 26, and twins are 15, boys. I told Jennifer that I am stage IV and mets to liver. She know as much as I do, she researched on Internet and has all the information she needs. I had surgery June 17 and everyone was there, we got clear margins and CEA is now 0.5. Did I ever sit them down and talk about anything, no. How long do I have? Don't know, there really is nothing to talk about yet. I feel if the dr said this is it, we can't do anything else I probably would sit down and talk- until then, there's nothing to talk about. My son Tim feels I will be ok, all cancer is gone, for now it is. The twins are not to worried, busy with school and marching band. Everyone has to make their own decision. I do let all the kids know that I am sick with chemo, can't hide that.

Posts: 835
Joined: Apr 2004

It is such a strong instinct to proect our children from harm that I think it can distort the way we approach them when we know what we have to do causes harm. Telling her will upset her and your fear is it will poison this important time in her life with her own child. Hence, I understand your approach has been to protect her from the worst parts of the news. I guess the flip side to that is if she finds out the truth will she be angry at you for not being completely open or honest with her (you don't make it clear whether you have actually told her an 'alternative version' of the truth or simply ommitted some things- I would be surprised if she hasn't asked about prognosis).

In truth only you and your wife who know herbest can make the final judgement but do ask yourself what you would want your own parent to do (try and step out of the protective parent role and put yourself into your daughter's perspective). I guess honesty is going to be the best ansswer but timing of when to do it is the real question.

Sorry- as usual no clear answer, just more bloody difficult dilemmas!


Posts: 1154
Joined: Jun 2010

My mother waits to tell us things if they aren't pressing. I appreciate her not calling me at work to tell me that my cousin died. She waited until I got home.

Since your grandchild was born only 3 weeks ago, could you wait for 3 more weeks to tell her? Then she wpuld be up and running. I think if there is an emergency, that is different tell her immediately, but can it wait for a few more weeks. If she finds out and starts asking questions I would tell her too.

Just my opinion.

Varmint5's picture
Posts: 384
Joined: Feb 2012

Dan, I was 24 when my dad died from lung cancer and we were told at his diagnosis that it was terminal, bad, etc. He only lived four months from diagnosis. And it was a gut wrenching, heartbreaking time to have that knowledge and live with it and try to be positive and upbeat around Dad. His case was much different than yours - he was offered no treatment, there was no hospice service or support. It was over 30 years ago. I could hardly be around him without crying and it broke his heart. He loved his first (then only) grandchild, my daughter who is now battling colon cancer, so much and he didn't want us to always be sad around her - she was almost 2. You still have hope. You are doing well and there are still options. I would leave it at that.

Your wife is right - your daughter is, like all in her age group, tech savvy and has probably already looked this up online. I think she will ask questions when she wants or needs more information. I wouldn't overload this new mother who is still dealing with postpartum hormones with sad possibilities. Let her enjoy her new baby, you, her family and this special time without all that hanging over her head. Don't burden her with too much information.

That's just my opinion, from the perspective of a daughter. Let her have hope.


Posts: 1154
Joined: Jun 2010

That was exactly my pint. She is adjusting as a new mom now. If it can wait let it wait.

Annabelle41415's picture
Posts: 4898
Joined: Feb 2009

That is such a hard decision and one that no parent wants to make. If you keep this information from her, what is she going to say if she finds out from some other source. To me it would be devestating, but can totally understand you wanting to keep your child from a burden she can really do nothing about. She might want to encourage you or just want to talk to you about it. It's a tough decision and I'm sorry you are in this position. Hoping that whatever decision you make, you feel at peace with it.


Brenda Bricco
Posts: 579
Joined: Aug 2011

This is a really tough thing to comment on because everyone's needs are different. I know as a parent that we want to protect our children from any and all hurt; I also know that as a child I wouldn't want to be left in the dark. I know she will always be your baby but she is an adult and deserves to know what is really going on with her dad. If she already does and not talking about it is her way of dealing with it that is fine but if she doesn't know she deserves the time to process, grieve (not your death but the dx- we all grieve at first)and be apart of your healing. That is my opinion on this...

As for you and where you are please do not give up hope. My husband was where you are (no surgical options) but he has since had a good response to chemo which made him eligble for liver & colon resection and is NED at this time. He had many tumors (large and small) and was actually given a time frame of when he would die. I am telling you this because I want you to know that he had a very grim prognosis and is now NED. Please do not give up hope, live and enjoy that babe. Give him mooches from me, I can't wait to be a Nana some day!
GOD bless you.

JayhawkDan's picture
Posts: 206
Joined: Apr 2012

I appreciate your thoughtful replies. This board blows me away! I'm trying to work as much as I can and I can't post a lot, but I read threads when I can and you guys have been my best teacher for this dread disease.

I think I'm trending to Sandy's advice and letting it ride for the time being. You know, I'm sure you all feel the same way, but I thought a lot of this stuff would be more clear cut. You get cancer, you do X for treatment, everybody knows and you do what you do. Nothing is clear cut, and I keep looking for the owner's manual or guidebook for this stuff but it's all vague and conflicting . . . damnit!

Megan is 24, btw, and is a smart cookie. I'm sure she knows more than what's apparent on the surface. But all my news since dx has been good. CEA dropped every time, currently sitting at 1, and scans have gone in the right direction. So there is hope and encouragement, and that's all we can ask for. I truly believe that the Lord works in mysterious ways, and my Grandson is a testament to that. He's been an incredible blessing and so much fun! I want to be there when he goes off to school for the first time, and every other milestone that will come along. Ditto for any brothers and sisters.

Hugs to all.


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