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Cancer Survivor Dad Won't Discuss Cancer

Posts: 2
Joined: Jul 2014

I don't know what to do or say right now. I am so scared and my dad won't tell me anything. I'm 24, he's 58. To my knowledge, he has been cancer free for 7 years, but I honestly don't know if I saw a healthy man tonight. He now has cataracts and, before he eats, takes pills for his stomach. After eating, he was in the bathroom for about 20 minutes. I want to ask him about what's going on, but every time I've tried in the past, he says everything is okay. Scariest of all, years ago, he confessed that he would never tell me if he was dying. I don't want to expect the worst, but I can't help but worry when I don't know what's going on.

I guess what I'm asking is how do I make him comfortable enough to talk? Has anyone else felt reluctant to talk to family members? What can they do to create a safe welcoming environment to discuss life changes as a survivor? H

Thank you for any advice. I apologize if this has been asked in the past.

Posts: 1019
Joined: Aug 2013

You obviously love your dad very much. He may be trying to shield you from getting hurt. I'd tell him that not knowing what is going on with him is making you very worried. You've noticed changes in him and would like to be there to support him, no matter what. Good luck.


Lovekitties's picture
Posts: 3269
Joined: Jan 2010

I knew for almost 3 months that I had cancer before I shared that with my family.  Even then I didn't want to discuss it.  I had surgery one week after I told them.

Who would be responsible for his medical care if he is unable to make decisions?  If it is you, then you need to sit down with him for more than a casual conversation of how are you feeling.

Let him know that without information you will be thinking the worst and can be of no help for him.

On the more postive side, the things you saw may be nothing more than signs of aging.  He should see a dr about the cataracts as these days removal and lens implant as pretty routine and easy, and it will greatly improve his quality of life.

Wishing you the best.

Marie who loves kitties

Trubrit's picture
Posts: 3631
Joined: Jan 2013

but do let him know that you are concerned. Tell him once, 'Dad, I'm concerned about your health. It makes me sick with worry. I want you to talk to me, but I won't push you to talk to me about it'. Then let it go. Tell him again, on another day, but just once. So on and so forth. 

Normally a father would not want to hurt his child, and if he knows how much it hurts you for him to keep silent, he may just end up talking about it. 

This is how I would handle it, but you have to do what is comfortable for you. You know your dad best. 

Welcome to the forum. We are a great bunch of people. Do let us know how things go with your dad. 



db8ne1's picture
Posts: 135
Joined: Feb 2013

I'm so sorry for your worry and frustration. It sounds like you and your dad are very close?  Are you his main family support?  Not knowing your family dynamics, nor your dad's personality, it may be hard for him to talk about his concerns and potential health issues.  He may still see you as his "child" and not want to burden you with his concerns - OR - there may be nothing wrong except the issues of declining health due to getting older and maybe the long term side effects of his previous cancer treatments.  I, for one, still struggle with neuropathy and extreme fatigue issues from chemo and radiation. 

That said, I agree with Trubrit: You may want to have a "heart to heart" talk and let him know how YOU feel about him potentially shutting you out and obviiously how much you love and care for him.  Everyone processes things differently and he may not realize how his actions affect your feelings - and he may be causing undue worry.

I didn't tell my family (except my husband) for a month after diagnosis for CRC as I wanted to have all my ducks in a row and a plan of action in place before I had to deal with all their questions and input (I have a LARGE family). I also have 2 grown 20 something sons who, while they want to know what's going on, I know them well and they really don't want to know too much! :-).  My husband is much like my sons in that regard.

I'm also battling Kidney Cancer and just completed surgery for a partial nephrectomy this past week.  It's hard to keep surgery a secret... :). 

I hope that he can open up and put your mind at ease!  Try to be patient...


ron50's picture
Posts: 1598
Joined: Nov 2001

     I know you are worried that he has cancer again. I am not so sure . There is a saying that has become the story of my life. It is that "surviving survival is not easy". Cancer is not like a cold or the flu. You don't have it then get over it. I have 15 1/2 years of survival up now and thanks to cancer and cancer treatment. I am as sick now as I ever was when I had cancer. I have a range of auto-immune problems that are incurable .debilitating , probably terminal and treated by drugs that can make some chemo seem like taking aspirin.  The toll it takes on your body is one thing ,the toll it takes on your mind and spirit is something else. I tend to use humour to try and take some of the fear and pain out of it. Up till now I have succeeded and managed to bumble my way thru life.. A good day is one where nothing really bad happens. My advice to you is that if humanly possible get your dad involved on this site. Nothing is taboo here and somebody has suffered most of what can be suffered. There is always someone here who understands. Please try ,all the best Ron.

tanstaafl's picture
Posts: 1190
Joined: Oct 2010

If he won't talk for himself, maybe he will discuss a little for you and any other descendants.  Or perhaps you can help him with the paperwork at some point.

This situation partially happened to me.  I've had to piece dribs and drabs together of family medical history.  To understand the "second CRC story," several decades ago, has been helpful with my wife too.  It would have been more helpful if I directly heard more details then, or had the medical records. Some financial records are my primary record source today.  The first CRC story was a grandparent that died before I was born. 

Knowledge is power, and life.  Ignorance is a black hole of doubt and vague worries.  Good luck breaking beyond the silence.

Yolllmbs's picture
Posts: 361
Joined: May 2014

Everyone handles their health issues differently. He may think he's doing you a favor by not talking about his health. On the other side, he may be protecting himself by not acknowledging his current situation.  He could have issues that are not cancer. Our concerns jump to cancer once we've been diagnosed  Maybe you just need to tell him the truth. Tell him you're worried sick and you need to know what's wrong. He will have to take his own time to share. Bathroom habits are sometime difficult to share. If you can, go to dr appointments. 


Good luck, 


Posts: 2
Joined: Jul 2014

Thank you all for your helpful responses. I am overwhelmed by the amount of support shown on this board and so grateful that you all shared your suggestions and stories with me! 

After spending more time with my dad over the past two weeks, I had a frank discussion with him. Overall, he is doing well. What shocked me the most during my time with him was his new-found positivity. I have not seen him this upbeat, energetic, and happy since I was a kid. He said that sometimes he has bad stomach days, but it is not frequent.

I told him about this forum so I hope he will check it out soon!

I cannot thank you all enough for the support and encouragement!

May God bless and keep you in good health.

Nana b's picture
Nana b
Posts: 3045
Joined: May 2009

I have my daughter on my canter center and primary care doctor'a HIPAA release form so she can find out anything she wamts.   Might be a thought for you n

Helen321's picture
Posts: 1346
Joined: May 2012

"Dad, you're scaring me and my health is being affected.  Please help me by telling me if I need to be worried.  I am imagining the worst and I need to know exactly what is going on so that I can feel secure".  That's my suggestion.  Ask him from your point of view, rather than his.  Hopefully he'll open up. 

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