Cancer (hoover?)

  • 12 Replies
  • 428 Views
*

all4peace

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • 4415
Cancer (hoover?)
« on: October 11, 2017, 09:10:45 PM »
One of Dh's parents had been floating out the possibility of cancer. "Need to take this trip while we still can" sort of thing, despite no diagnosis and one iffy lab result. We waited and waited, and didn't hear anything so assumed it had been a hoover.

Then the other parent texted today to say this 2nd parent has actual cancer, while the first one still has "iffy lab results" (insinuating a worry for cancer).

This is actually my worst nightmare. This is the thing I have feared. The situation that brings out the absolute worst in everyone in the family, in which we are expected to behave with compassion and kindness that was never shown to us, to offer help that was not given, to give empathy and kindness after being trampled for decades.

I already dislike myself, the way I have been thinking about how this will impact us, how we will be made to look bad. I dislike that I'm focusing on me instead of this person who is facing a diagnosis.

But even the text. Sent to all of us (doesn't know DD has a new number and that I've blocked this parent), using the most fearful language possible, very vague, giving almost no information except "(insert scary word) cancer." I have 2 friends fighting cancer right now, and it makes me ill to see a parent/grandparent using this new (and as yet not fully clarified) diagnosis to try to impact all of us, including our kids. The IL with cancer is already drawing in one of my friends to "help," which makes me feel shaky and worried. My S was bewildered and confused, had no idea what this grandparent was talking about in the text. This is the S who has been almost entirely ignored by this grandparent/family. DD cares, but not that much. She has watched these grandparents behave with total cold contempt as their own son struggled through 2 surgeries and a lot of pain beforehand, her mother likewise. This grandparent has refused to speak to most members of our family, in close contact, for quite a while now but suddenly sends a cancer text to us and our kids.

I guess I'm just putting it out there to people who understand. I am trying to grow as a person, but it has not been many months since Dh had his last surgery, nor many since I last spent a week in the hospital. I know I need to be the bigger person. I know I need to support DH the best I can. But there is an awful lot of hurt and bitterness that i haven't fully worked through yet, and it's hard to get hit in the face with this. I honestly can't even figure out if I should unblock Dh's family from my phone. I just wasn't ready for this quite yet.

*

Libby 12

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 108
Re: Cancer (hoover?)
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2017, 02:47:47 AM »
It's just so hard,  isn't it?

I really believe that if our parents and in-laws had given us support through our hard times,  we would jump in to help and support them,  when they are old and ill.

My fil has been diagnosed with dementia and just like you,  I immediately wondered what would be expected of us. I too feel bad about this, but this fil has never taken any interest in us as a family. Despite being semi-retired,  couldn't even be bothered to come to our wedding.  Mil is the better of the two, so I think "Should we support her?"  But she also never supported us.  When I had three young children, twins with difficulties from premature birth,  she would shut me down every time with phrases like "you and I both know that there is nothing wrong with them!" and proceed to tell me about people who supposedly "had it worse" than me.  Visiting was always down to us. They would never even acknowledge my foo issues and the pain, both emotional and physical,  that this caused me. Pure invalidation over 25+years.

I just can't feel that I owe them very much but I will be led by what dh decides. 

It is an awful situation,  but I think you should be guided by what you can cope with in situations as they arise.  If they didn't put themselves out for you,  then you need not suffer for them. Our own foc must still come first.

Stay strong and take care of yourself.

Libby.

*

practical

  • Host Member
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • 5147
Re: Cancer (hoover?)
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2017, 06:53:35 AM »
I think I understand where you are coming from, having dealt with many of these FOG health scares with F, I'm suggesting a different way though because of these experiences.

Why cannot you be the bigger person with regard to yourself and your FOC? For me this situation requires that you up your protection of your FOC and yourself and not let go of it. This will be a feast of manipulations, triangulation and FOG in all shapes and forms and it has already started by sending you a diffuse but scary text message. A responsible and loving parent would have waited till they actually had real information, or made the message not scary, would have a sit down with the family to discuss what will happen next etc. This will most likely be used as a "get out of jail" free card for all kinds of abuse. Is DH a single child? As far as I remember there are other siblings, so let them take care of ILs. You are already painted black and whatever you do won't change this. If you want to do something, do things that don't involve direct or prolonged contact, bring by some food, offer to go shopping, while avoiding things like going to doctors and treatments.

Please keep in mind they will get the necessary care whether you are involved or not, there are social services to help them with issues at home, visiting nurses if necessary, even transport can be arranged. Please don't forget that you have a responsibility to yourself and your FOC. I would keep my distance and see how they are sorting this out on their own. I don't think you are a bad person for thinking "how will this impact me", you are a sane person for thinking this way, you aren't forgetting the past or putting your head in the sand. These people are toxic for you and your FOC and them being ill changes nothing in this category, might make it worse as a matter of fact. If you and DH were the only two people on earth who could take care of them, I would say, okay, you don't have a choice, but your IL's have family, friends and a whole medical establishment to take care of them. We aren't all Mother Theresa's and that is okay, we are human and have our own feelings to deal with, and those of use here also with our own healing. Why does your and your DH's healing come second? Why should it be put on hold, why open yourself up to new injuries when others can handle the situation?

Why does growing as a person mean for you to abandon healthy boundaries and open yourself up to abuse? Why do you have to be the "bigger person"? (I'm not a big fan of that expression as it has too often been used to bludgeon me into an apology to M when I had done nothing wrong. For me it is on the same level as "you are oversensitive", expressions used by our abusers.) You do have a responsibility to yourself and your FOC, and for me that is paramount.
If Im not towards myself, who is towards myself? And when Im only towards myself, what am I? And if not now, when? (Rabbi Hillel)

"I can forgive, but I cannot afford to forget." (Moglow)

*

OnwardsAndUpwards

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 111
Re: Cancer (hoover?)
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2017, 09:19:47 AM »
Someone told me once, to try and treat them as I would any other person of that age group that I know but aren't close friends with.

Example, a woman in my congregation (who I really like, she's the sweetest, happiest person you'll ever meet) had cancer. Meals were arranged. I volunteered and was asked to provide one meal. I packaged it all up in disposable containers, gave it to her husband, offered our well-wishes for when she was awake and left.

I didn't feel guilty I didn't provide more meals. I had offered, and another time when her foot was broken and meals were being done I didn't have the "spoons" to offer so I didn't and it was fine. No one was upset with me for not volunteering.

My ILs have essentially banned me from their presence, so for eFIL's medical situation I'm staying out of it. I encouraged DH to visit FIL at home, if he wanted to (he doesn't), DH has only spoken on the phone to him once since FIL arrived home and DH is fine with that. If I wasn't unwelcome, I maybe would go up once and only once, to provide a meal or cleaning or errands. Because that is what I would do for anyone based on my general health. But I say maybe because right now things are crazy for me and I don't have many spoons to use.

There is nothing wrong with analyzing how many spoons you have left to give when a situation arises. It's not selfish to check on that. Follow what the airplanes say to do - make sure your own mask is on first, before helping someone else. For myself, I am not super woman. I physically cannot do everything I want to do. If you burn yourself out, who is going to take care of you if you're bedridden or hospitalized?

If you're looking for a reply "I'm so sorry to hear that, please let us know what the specialists say." or something to that effect. You don't have a do a single thing for them. For that matter, what is there for you to do? Really and truly?

Both of my parents have had cancer scares, and each time they've waited until results were in and treatment plans had been started before telling us. Very matter of fact, very chill. "went to the dr. and they found x, but we're doing x,y,z for treatment and they're expecting good outcomes." Mom needed a ride one time, because the pre-melanoma was on her face near her eye and she wasn't allowed to drive afterwards, and Dad was still working then. Other times when it was safe for her to drive, she drove herself to treatments. With Dad, they were both retired by then so Mom drove him. There was zero drama, guilt or anything.

If you can, please try to cut yourself some slack and know you don't have to sacrifice yourself or your FOC to be a good person.


--OAU

*

bopper

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • 1370
Re: Cancer (hoover?)
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2017, 10:58:47 AM »
First of all, with PDs, "Cancer" can mean "I have a lump they are checking out". or "I have a skin cancer thing that needs to be cut out".  Or it can be more.



But for you, Instead of :

I have cancer!!! 
OMG let me run over now!!!! I will do all the things!

it can be:

I have cancer!!!
So sorry to hear that.

No need for actions, no need for running. They have access to doctors. They have senior transport if they can't drive. They may have church people to help.

You feel this Obligation to help...because normally that is one does.  But normally the parents support you as well.
Don't feel you need to be the bigger person...taking care of your self and your family needs to come first
Just because they are incapable of loving you, doesn't mean that you are unlovable.
Anything makes the false self appear real is supply.

*

carrots

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 290
Re: Cancer (hoover?)
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2017, 11:58:09 AM »
Just want to say I'm sorry, all4peace, you seem to have a lot on your plate atm with your own FOO and ILs.

*

practical

  • Host Member
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • 5147
Re: Cancer (hoover?)
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2017, 01:18:38 PM »
"You don't have to set yourself on fire to keep others warm." I think is fitting here.

As for wanting to be the bigger person, wanting to be yourself who is giving, kind, this is something I have struggled with with regard to F and M, and I had to accept that I cannot be myself around them. It makes me vulnerable, their toxicity floods in, and I end up being newly injured as well as triggered. It is an unfortunate consequence of the family dysfunction, I have to use a lot more boundaries, boundaries I might not need helping an acquaintance, as they would not be prone to abuse me. Thing is, you didn't create this situation, your IL's did, because they don't respect boundaries, and so your help might have to be limited. There is nothing wrong with you, the situation is wrong, and you cannot fit a square peg into a round hole however much you try.
If Im not towards myself, who is towards myself? And when Im only towards myself, what am I? And if not now, when? (Rabbi Hillel)

"I can forgive, but I cannot afford to forget." (Moglow)

*

Kieveen

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • 64
Re: Cancer (hoover?)
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2017, 08:07:20 AM »
My DH and I have a policy of wait and see with our parents.  We don't step in till things get really bad.  I would definitely take the wait and see approach,  you'd be surprised to see how much seniors can actually handle on their own. 

My M lived with me for 7 years. I truly believed that she couldn't manage on her own, then she got upset with me one day and moved out.  She's completely independent and has roommates to help her.  So now I'm not stepping in unless it's life or death. 

The same went for DH he didn't step in tell his Alzheimers father was in late stage Alzheimers.

So at this point I wouldn't panic, I'd just keep my distance, other family members will probably step in if needed.

*

Maisey

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 144
Re: Cancer (hoover?)
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2017, 11:42:18 AM »
I am sorry to hear your inlaws maybe dealing with cancer. Its not something you want to see anyone go through, even if its an antagonistic person.

I had been thinking on pepin's "ugh" thread and mulling over our dealings with IL's illnesses, and then you have this post, which is right in line with my mullings.

So i will tell you from my experience: vigilance with your children is important, don't let your guard down because IL are sick and of course you think your heart should be softened at this time in their life. My ILs have used terminal illness to scare their grandchildren. Honestly , I can't tell if it was intentional, if they wanted to see the horror and fear on the children's faces, for someone else to experience the fear they are facing. Or if they really thought that was the proper way to handle things.

At the time FIL had a terminal illness, I did not know what I was involved with, the fog, had no idea it was a thing.  Getting though that a doozy, But I did sit up and notice the way crazy behavior and curbed it regarding my children's exposure to them.  I made sure I was there with the kids and that we were visiting at an appropriate time of the day in regards to FIL's handling of pain, sleep schedule, etc. Which isn't just a protection issue, but teaching my children to be  considerate visitors also.

My ILs wanted the children there to see ALL the horrors of the illness. FIL himself spoke to me about what to tell them, which was awful. I told him I wouldn't do it, tried to explain that my children understood what was going on (had been dealing  with it for a year at that point) and I wasn't going to scare them. FIL was not happy. He was really mad at me. He wanted ME to scare them . What an awful person, to want to present his terminal illness in a way that frightens children, and to try to coerce me to join in.

ILs did get their way regarding GC's children, and that was as horrifying as the ILs wanted it to be. Just thinking about what I witnessed regarding that makes me so mad now. And the GC and spouse just went along with it.

Whew! got that off my chest.

I am sure you will handle it better than I did at the time, as you are knowledgeable about what you  are dealing with.  Keep in mind nothing really changes with them, and they will use anything they can to steamroll over you and your FOC. Historically  everything is the same as it was before you got the news.

M.



*

Maisey

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 144
Re: Cancer (hoover?)
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2017, 12:11:18 PM »
I guess I came in hot on that previous post, it was  there and tipped me off.

That period of time I saw how ugly cruelty masquerading as love  is.

M.

*

daughter

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • 3801
Re: Cancer (hoover?)
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2017, 01:50:49 PM »
As you know, "cancer" is a full spectrum-range of illnesses, from relatively minor medical issue to genuine medical crisis.  Today, "cancer" is not a stand-alone descriptor of catastrophic terminal illness.

On the other hand, eventually all elderly people will die, and few of them will simply "die in their sleep" one quiet night, as an otherwise vigorously healthy old person. 

But "cancer" still holds a special alarm, and potential for a major hoover-event.  As Onwards noted in her post, a normal announcement of "cancer" would include specific diagnosis, treatment plan, and prognosis, framed in a precise manner, no hoover-drama intended.  The text you received was likely intended to garner maximum hoover-potential, to "rally round the troops" (ie: adult-children and grandchildren) into a major all-attention demand-event, without, of course, offering explanation of what's actually occurred. 

I share your dread and sense of confusion.  There's little fact offered in that text, but a lot of implied expectation.  My NBM is a hyper-hypochondriac, and I've born witness to her many "cancer-scares", NBM's exaggerated symptoms, frequent doctor visits and aggressive testing for "The Big C".  My attention was assumed, my "help" of course demanded, and my eventual diminishing attention severely noted and harshly rebuked, because I became less reactive with each subsequent "raise the alarm" episodes.  ("Cancer of knee-caps" was a memorable episode that caused me to "go tone-deaf" to subsequent cancer-alarms.)

As I recall, you are functionally NC at present, so family reaction can be DH's alone.  I think your children can be protected from this information, until facts confirmed, and their contact otherwise still limited.  I think your and DH's hospitalizations, surgeries and recovery periods, unattended by his FOO Family, offers illuminating experiences for reference, and I'd tailor your family's response to your in-laws' health problems in-kind.  They ignored DH's protracted sick time - right?  Did they ever offer explanation for this lack of contact/help, to you or DH, or to your mutual acquaintances?  I think DH's and your time is very very busy.  Your in-laws have demonstrated where you fit priority-wise.  I'd offer that same level of "non-help", clear-headed, and be that "bigger person" as you offer your prayers for otherwise speedy recovery, from a suitable distance.

So, I'd wait for more information and mind the same boundaries already established.  If there's lots of "talk" in your community, you can note your many prayers and best wishes.  But having read your prior posts, while I'd be prepared for lots of hoovers summoning your active help in their household, I would be ready to steadfastly decline to provide.  These in-laws appear to be "takers", and they seem to assume you and DH are the "givers", in all contexts. 
« Last Edit: October 14, 2017, 02:02:26 PM by daughter »

*

OnwardsAndUpwards

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 111
Re: Cancer (hoover?)
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2017, 02:18:56 PM »

As I recall, you are functionally NC at present, so family reaction can be DH's alone.  I think your children can be protected from this information, until facts confirmed, and their contact otherwise still limited.  I think your and DH's hospitalizations, surgeries and recovery periods, unattended by his FOO Family, offers illuminating experiences for reference, and I'd tailor your family's response to your in-laws' health problems in-kind.  They ignored DH's protracted sick time - right?   I think DH's and your time is very very busy.  Your in-laws have demonstrated where you fit priority-wise.  I'd offer that same level of "non-help", clear-headed, and be that "bigger person" as you offer your prayers for otherwise speedy recovery, from a suitable distance.

So, I'd wait for more information and mind the same boundaries already established.  If there's lots of "talk" in your community, you can note your many prayers and best wishes. 

 :yeahthat: I just want to jump in and whole-heartedly second this wording, and approach!
--OAU

*

all4peace

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • 4415
Re: Cancer (hoover?)
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2017, 12:41:32 PM »
libby12, I appreciate the reminder to focus on what DH chooses for our family, and on what we can handle. I'm sorry for what you have faced in your DH's family :(

practical, thank you for the reminder of where our first responsibilities lie--in our marriage and our own FOC. We will try for support from a distance, whatever DH is willing for. We know it has not and will not be reciprocated, so we will need to find a way to offer what we can out of human decency and not at a level that builds more resentment when it is not returned.

onwardsandupwards, I love your spoon analogy :) And I love putting some perspective on it--"What would I do for a neighbor and acquaintance" and at least trying for that level of involvement. It reminds me also of putting on your own oxygen mask before helping another. If we're still recovering from the last 2 decades, then maybe what we're able for is less than it would be for other people or at other times.

bopper, I had another person privately remind me that this may not be cancer at all, or some very distorted version of a health scare. I guess the one "cancer hoover" had me cautious, but somehow I'm totally believing this one. We will wait before investing too much energy and thought into this, until we hear some actual detailed news. The vague and frightening way the news was delivered, along with the really vague "second IL may still have cancer" hoover makes me think I may have jumped too high without confirmation.

carrots, thanks. It is a little exhausting at the moment. I've read on this forum that when someone comes Out of the FOG, they do so for all their relationships. I think we're dealing with the consequences of this. It's a little brutal but I do have a lot of really amazing people and things in my life right now to counterbalance all the parental grief.

kieveen, that is very wise counsel. I believe this will be our approach.

maisey, I'm so sorry for what you went through with your parents and children. We expect people to behave like we do and end up startled and shocked when they use possible or real illness to suck other people into their toxic lives, even their own grandchildren. Our kids are never alone with their grandparents at this point, but we will still be careful. I already needed to talk to our DS about the way his gparent announced the possibility of cancer, suddenly, scarily, vaguely. We will continue to have conversations as necessary to help our kids understand what is healthy, and how to respond (or not).

It's galling since I would love to model for them an outpouring of love and help and compassion, as a model for how a loving family works. After all, we are teaching our kids how to behave with us one day also. But it's no longer safe to offer 1000% where 5% was offered to us. I can't simultaneously teach my children to be safe with toxic people AND how to show generosity and mercy and love in a relationship that is still not safe. At least I haven't figured this out yet. Hopefully the good things we share with other people will teach them THAT lesson and the way we carefully interact with the ILs will teach them THIS lesson.

daughter, I snorted with laughter at the knee-cap cancer! What?! Did she run out of body parts that supposedly had cancer?!

As for protecting our children, the IL sent this text to both our kids also, although DD has blocked ILs, but DS received it. Needed to make sure we ALL got scared, in case we didn't pass on the worrying news to our kids. This made me angry, but it's the typically inappropriate behavior of this IL that led us to protect our kids in the first place.

I'm not sure we would withhold all help, but it will be severely limited in comparison to what we would typically want to give to someone we love and care about. And it's a conversation I had with my friend who is fighting cancer, who is being drawn in to "help" this IL--the fact that what I had offered my friend wouldn't even look close to what I would be able to safely offer this IL. I'm so thankful that my dear friend was incredibly understanding and non-judgmental.

Thank you so much for all your help, feedback and guidance! I'm in such a better place with this than I was when I first posted. The generosity of the people on this forum is incredible, and the collective experience that we can all learn from!