Life with bowel cancer


Coping with family relationships

Hi all
I'm really struggling with my feelings of what others should be doing to help my father. He's always struggled with life as he has some mental challenges. And several of the family members I think feel like they've told him what they think they should do and he doesn't listen so its 'his problem'. I feel like they are just washing their hands of it to feel better about it themselves. It's not just his cancer treatment they react to like this but many of his life circumstances.
I feel like he is ultimately a man who's not coped with life and needs help - don't we all from time to time?!?!
He is an intense person who struggles with relationships, he's single, lives alone has one supportive brother and another one who's seems to have forgotten him now that he needs help. He needs a lot of help dealing with the services he needs to access as he's unemployed too.
My sister lives away and they don't have a close relationship but she was happy to take a loan from him in the past when she needed it to help her journey (she's now very comfortable). She is involved via me but doesn't seem to want to spend time with him, she has a lot on admittedly at the moment, her father in law sick but she's ok with going to see them all the time at the minute.
I feel like this is eating me all up and straining my relationships. Even with my own husband, who I was there for when he lost his brother a few years back. My husband did let my father live with us part time a while back but said that can't happen again, which I understand. But when I try and talk to him he cuts my off and just says don't worry about it, if your sister doesn't want to see your dad etc it's her problem. But my dad is blocking her out as she doesn't agree with his treatment choices.
I just worry about him all the time and want to fix it all and go back to happier times 2 years ago.
I don't know what to do and am crying as I type this.

Bear G

Hi @jomax766
I'd just typed a reply and it vanished from my computer so iuf it pops up in your feed I'm sorry for repeating myself!

I'm so sorry you're facing all this. As a patient, I do feel that often this cancer thing can be harder on those close to us, that certainly seems true for you.

Is there a Maggies Centre near you, these are lovely places to drop into and they can offer good support.

Could I also suggest looking into some counselling to help you find a balance between supporting your father, maintaining your other relationships and looking after yourself as well? Maybe chat to your GP or call your father's team to see if they can recommend anything? It definitely helps to talk this sort of thing through.

Big hugs


Hi there
@Bear G thanks for taking time to reply. I just wondered if it was just me going crazy! Maybe I need to stop overthinking it all and just accept it is what it is and that life will be different from now on.
I feel like I'd be bothering people re counselling but will give it a go. Thanks again and good luck with your journey. :x::x:


Dear @jomax766 . I'm just sending support and hugs for the way you are feeling and can't really add anything other than the superb advice from Bear. The problem is that it really can be difficult to help someone who has mental health issues and clearly your Dad (quite rightly) does have views on his treatment etc and although family members might not agree, he does have a right to those views, of course. Perhaps the family just find it all too difficult and it is easier for them to try and disengage themselves out of frustration and worry?
The only experience I have is with my nephew who has bi-polar and problems with alcohol (he knows he should not drink)- but he's such a lovely, lovely young man. It is very hard to watch someone making progress in life and then pressing the self destruct button over and over and feeling helpless to do anything.There have been times over the years when my brother (his loving Dad) has had to step away as he simply couldn't cope himself and was becoming ill with stress and worry.
Please do get some help and support for yourself. It is not good for you to have this 'eating you up' and counselling should help you to gain perspective and coping mechanisms, I would think.
I really hope that things get better. Love Gypsyxx


@Gypsy many many thanks for taking time to reply and share your story. Yes I think I will talk to my dad and let him know about how he's making me feel and seek some support for myself.
It's just all I think about and I feel like I should be doing everything to help and some people aren't as it suits them. Maybe I'm wrong to think this. Best of luck to everyone in your family. There are never any quick fixes are there???


@jomax766 sounds like you already know what YOU need and that is in regards to getting help for you in getting counselling support for you.
Everyone is different in the way they view things, I often think just take a seat in your own sitting room, what can you see, change seats does the view of the room look the same, can you see more or less than you could see before, yet it's the same room.
It's the same with people's views on care for others, I was a carer for my dad, I knew what I needed to do was care for him, other family members care was a different view to mine and the amount of care they felt they needed to give or not.
Your feelings are right for you, don't think you are wrong for feeling, thinking is the head, feeling is often the heart.
Your doing a fantastic job of feeling for others, how about you offer that compassion and care for you. You are worth it. Trust me you won't be taking up a space that others need more.
Best wishes to you :x::x:


@justhope thanks so so much. I’ve had a good think and posting helped to weirdly. It’s true writing helps. I will talk to someone. But I think I’ve got to realise I can’t fix it all and he’s a grown man. I just never expected it to be so hard and I’ve had lots of cr*p in the past so thought I was tough enough :x::x:


Hello @jomax766 family well fully appreciate your issues and best thing to be patient and more patient..... 🤗 hugs


@GD62 - Many thanks for taking time to send a msg, best of luck on your journey. :x::x:


Hi @jomax766 a difficult time, all my sympathy.

A few years ago, when my father had bowel cancer, my sister and I had some major issues. I lived locally and dealt with all the day to day problems, while she lived at a distance and could only see the issues as a simple problem to be solved by throwing money at the situation or by demanding more help from Social Services. She couldn't understand even simple problems (neither cleaner nor daily carer thought it was their job to wipe out the microwave was a simple but daily issue!), She certainly wasn't there to open and read hospital letters, sort out the logistics of hospital appointments and medication or cancel then reinstate daily carers.

The arguments came to a head when she told me to 'put up or shut up'......she just didn't understand how difficult it was. Hence my sympathy, with no magic answer.

Long term, I know I did my best (poor though it was). We still have a fairly good relationship but it is very superficial. My own illness has shown me what true friendship and support really looks like.

So, I am so sorry for you. No answers I'm afraid, just do what you feel is right for you all. Big hugs :x::x:


@Lizalou so sorry to hear of your story. I hope things are better.
I had a long chat with my dad as he’s been off with me. I’ve think I’ve finally come to accept that he’s never going to take standard treatment and we are now facing a journey of guessing how long we have. He’s yet again changed his view on what the answer is to his cure.
Maybe I’m one of the last to think this and I’ve been fighting a fight of my own consciousness too and constantly trying to help and get somewhere my dad doesn’t want to go. That being said I think he should be monitored and supported but it’s down to me and his brother mainly I think.
I will just have to deal with things as they unfold but be prepared. I’m going to just accept that I can only do so much and try and try and not think about the dreaded C thing all of the time or I will loose my mind.
I think CBT might help me stay positive and some counselling as perhaps I’ve become consumed by it all and my other relationships need me too.
Best of luck to you and all who deal with the day to day.
I’m very grateful to all who support each other on this forum. :x::x::x::x::x::x::x::x::x:


Hi @jomax766 , for what it is worth, in my life I have known those who have died of cancer as friends and also my dear husband who seems not to have too long left with me.

I have seen this both as friend and family member and can only say that grief takes many guises, as does how we cope with this sort of diagnosis.

I believed a good friend to be heartless in her treatment of her terminally ill husband when she would lock him in the house so that no one could visit, and she would go out for the day with her horses. Now I see this from a different perspective and feel that people want to visit to appease their conscience and this is far from helpful or welcome to the patient!

I had another friend whose second wife screeched at the children of his first marriage to go away and not visit their dad (and I thought her selfish and ‘after the money) and now find myself feeling for her when Marks children who basically don’t bother with him swoop in at the first sign of drama for the hospital visit and I feel embittered and protective of Mark as they don’t come when he is doing okay.

Another friend was (I felt) left at home all day whilst her hubby went swanning off for the day, and I now feel that the only way Mark will be okay is if I am okay and so it is essential for him that I maintain some sort of life for myself.

I could go on....

So it is all a matter of perspective rather than a case of who is right and who is wrong. I don’t think there is a right or a wrong way with cancer and some choose to grieve ‘as they go’ which I do, whereas some would put it all off until after death.

I hope that helps you?

Sarah :x:


@Sasa makes some very valid points. For my part I’d say you can never meet everyone’s needs. It would be impossible. You can only do your best and what feels right at the time. There will always be something you will feel you didn’t do whilst you forget all the many things you did.

There is no easy answer. Big hugs.


@jomax766 I am sorry to hear you are so over burdened and under appreciated with what you are striving to do. It is very difficult when it’s your parent and they decide one thing and remain stubborn about it, without realising the knock on effect on those who are caring for him. You have been given great advice, see, help for yourself. Unless you are strong and well both mentally and physically, you will not be able to help. So don’t knock yourself down, go forward, get help for yourself first and then I am sure you will find other ways to deal with your dad and the rest of the family.
All the very best and lots of hugs and best wishes


@jj @Sasa @Calleyh Your words have been extremely helpful. This is indeed a journey and we all have our own path.
All I can do is to draw on your advice, and draw on the positives from this too.
I think I am grieving as now really and as you've pointed out - others aren't as yet perhaps.
I wish you all the best for you and your families and hope that more and more people get diagnosed as soon as they can to stop the loss of loved ones to this. :x::x::x::x::x:


Thinking of u & sending love, hugs & soothing vibes :x: