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Struggling to cope with my Dads cancer...cant find any support from my friends


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So my Dad's been fighting a three year battle with cancer. The type of cancer he has cannot be cured, its been a case of managing it. Its been up and down there has been times where he has been treatment free and fairly healthy, and times when he's had to have chemo and particularly the radiotherapy made him really sick.

The average survival time for his type of cancer is three to four years, as I said he has had it three years now. Last week we got test results that the cancer was active again... and it feels like the end of the world. He looks like somebody with cancer now where he hasnt done so until now. I think maybe none of this has seemed completely real the last few years, and now all of a sudden it has struck me that it is real, and im finding it suffocatingly difficult.

 

To make matters worse he is in England and I am in Australia. Ive been here for four months backpacking...at his request. He wants me to stay over here and enjoy myself, something Ive been doing a lot of up until now. But now...I dont know how. Im finding dealing with the fact that theres every chance my dad might not still be here in a years time really really difficult, impossible in fact. I cant concentrate on anything, what Im doing tonight, what Im doing next week. Which is a bit inconvenient when I'm travelling and need to be figuring out places to stay!

 

Is it wrong to feel like this whilst he's still alive? I feel like I should be happy that he is still here, that they are still trying treatments when they could just be giving up, that they are still trying to buy us as much time as possible. I feel like I should be saving this sadness for later down the track. But I cant shift it, I can distract myself from it for a few hours, but it still comes back.

 

Its like theres this big pressure hanging over my head, and its making everything else so difficult. I dont know how to shift it, how to get back into a mind set of coping. How to take a deep breath, say ok this sucks but Im going to cope.

 

I dont know if I should stay here in Australia, where dont get me wrong the last four months Ive been out here for have been pretty much the best four months of my life. And hope that this passes and that its just a temporary reaction to the bad news. Or whether to head home where I can know more about whats going on, be there to help my dad, know that I know whats going on.

The weird thing is I dont feel like my support network at home is really any bigger than it is out here because so few of my friends will talk to me about stuff. I got really frustrated last night and told my best friend that I needed her, that I know that it was something she found difficult to talk about but I really needed her to be there for me despite that...and I just couldnt get through to her. Its like you mention the word cancer and people do one of three things, they either absolutely refuse to talk to you about it and will do anything they can to pick up on any other aspect of the conversation that they can OR they will say that once their friends cousins grandma's aunts next door neighbours cat had cancer so they know how you feel OR they will try and pacify with the 'Time will heal', 'death is part of life', 'everything happens for a reason' all of which piss me off. Why cant people just say..yeh thats * * * * do you need to talk. Whats wrong with saying that its horrible and it sucks and its not fair and it shouldnt happen???? Time is not going to heal, time is only going to make things worse because he is going to die. Time means facing my father dying in some hospice somewhere, time means saying goodbyes, time means watching him waste away, time means organising his funeral. Time will only make all of this worse, so so so much worse.

 

Someone said to me that sometimes when a loved one is terminally ill the grieving can start before theyve actually died? Is that true? Is that whats happening to me now? I just feel overwhelmed with sadness, which is ranging from making me tearful and making me so angry and lash out at my friends that mean well but are just saying all the wrong things.

 

I dont know what to do. I just feel so alone in this. I just want it to all stop, but of course there is only one way of making that happen, and thats the thing I fear the most.

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Hey, I lost my father to cancer and he had it for slightly over a year. Like your father it was terminal. This particular type of cancer he had resulted in a long slow death. To be honest most of my sadness was at the beginning, after seeing someone suffer for a long time and knowing that death was inevitable, consequently most of my sadness was long gone by the day he died. It was more so shock at that point when he died, like " * * * he's gone?!", but for whatever reason I was no longer sad. In saying that there is no appropriate way to feel

 

Oh and I wouldn't necessarily hold it against people who don't want to talk about cancer, death, sickness etc. It's nasty, depressing stuff afterall I don't think they mean anything by it but most people just don't know how to act or what to say. I don't particularly like that talk either. Furthermore people are scared of their mortality and things like cancer only underscore that.

 

best of luck

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What you are experiencing is "Anticipatory Grief" its very common and very normal.

 

My Mothetr passed from cancer in December. About 3 months after we found out aboutt he cancer, they told us she was palliative and had a year at the most to live.

Since that day, I preprared myself for her death. Everything was 'the last'

 

It wasnt until after she passed and I started reading self help books did I learn about "Anticipatory Grief"

 

Look into the book "On Deaht & Dying" by Kubler Ross. She writes great books and her "On Grief and Greiving" has been my Bible getting me through this.

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