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My Father Has Cancer...but It's Complicated.

This has been an ongoing battle since 2000, my father has had prostate cancer and it seems this year will be when he loses the battle. This week has been especially difficult after he landed in ER for 2 days with severe pain in his back and ribs. Seems the secondary sites in his spine are now moving along and irritating the root nerves in his vertebrae. He is full of osteoporosis as a result of treatment. (We have been through all the treatments, surgery, radiation, hormone therapy,) now onto new immunotherapy and chemo, all to buy him some more time on this planet.

My relationship with him has been quite complicated over the years. As a professional, he chose to travel for his work, in and out of my life every month or so to some foreign destination. It took its toll on our immediate family, my mother and myself. My step-sister had moved out when I was 13, so it really didn't seem to affect her in the same fashion. As a blended family, we have a unique existence, the other 3 don't seem to be involved and historically only called when they wanted something. I have anger they aren't here, I am the representative of the kids, there are 5 of us in total, where the hell are they? Just waiting to collect their inheritance?

My memories of my parents throughout my late childhood, teens, even to this date, was one of conflict, arguments and contempt for each other. As early as age 12, I can remember them fighting, Dad threatening to leave, Mom looking for an apartment, sending each other hate mail, all the while involving me in the process. At one point, it seems my mother may have had an affair (not that I can blame her for the emotional neglect she received from my father), but this I think was the beginning of the end for their relationship.

A few years ago, my husband and I went into counseling for some extra support in dealing with my family and their controlling ways. What we discovered was my father was a closet narcissist. I began reading a book called 'Disarming the Narcissist' by Wendy Behary, and it all fit into place. My father is a narcissist. I'm not crazy. I have an insecure attachment, this all makes sense now.

But now, he's dying. Even at the hospital in the ER, he was still arguing with my mother, bullying her. He is feeling a loss of control, his mobility, his body, his mind and he continues to be lashing out at who ever is in range. The becomes highly manipulative, telling me things like "I have one wish before I die, and that's to take you to the Louvre", and that's not gonna happen. So I am left with the guilt that we didn't do that. Is it my fault? Or maybe if he was around, we would have done that, but no, he chose work instead of family.

It was an awful experience this week, seeing him in so much pain. Every 5 minutes it seemed he would cry out, I still cannot get the sound out of my head. Listening to him being in pain. It just broke my heart. I was able to maintain my composure for the most part, advocating for his care, despite being awake for 35 hours straight. I did what I could and I know in my heart, I am just doing what I can.

I see myself getting depressed, it doesn't help that my husband and I are financially in a good place. I am working part time hours, he's back at school retraining, facing his toughest semester yet, the overwhelming feelings are building. He's busy, trying to cope with his first few months of sobriety and his own mental health issues. I do what I can to support him in his recovery. I also I have an opportunity to work somewhere else, 1 hour commute, but permanent full time, the first in almost 3 years. So I am hoping we get a break with that area of life.

I just feel empty, like I have nothing more to give. I feel to tired to function and just want to stay in, isolate myself, not shower, not eat. I don't care anymore, well, that's the feeling. It doesn't help its winter and I am forced to endure this cold miserable weather. I am going to force myself to go to work, we need the money. I have included some friends who know what's going on, but most are not in the same city. All extended family lives in a different country, its just us here and its very isolating.

I just feel like I am in hell and its not going to get any easier in the coming months. So I do what I can, day to day. One day at a time.

misskittyrocks misskittyrocks 31-35 1 Response Jan 26, 2012

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Thank you for sharing your story. Your experience touched me and hit really close to home.

My dad also has cancer (a brain tumor.) My family, too, is complicated. I spent years not talking to my dad in my late teens/early 20s before learning to forgive. He's very opinionated, and has basically no ability to see anyone else's side. He's never been diagnosed, but we have all believed for a long time that he is bipolar. It tore my family apart to never know whinch"dad" we'd come home to. But he's not a bad guy. He always has good intentions and thinks he's making good decisions for the people he loves. He just isn't able to put himself in anyone else's shoes, so he hurts people, and doesn't seem to even realize it.

So now that he's sick, these issues have been amplified. He can't handle the loss of control that comes with having a terminal diagnosis, so he's really become quite controlling. (He micro manages, to the smallest detail, who can know about his cancer, what they can know, and what lie I'm supposed to tell them when they ask. He even goes to the doctor and tells them how to treat him!) The steroids he's on to stop the swelling make him really amped up.

Even though the negative things drive me crazy, I still love him to death. He is my dad, after all. I want the best for him and struggle to find the balance between caring for him, keeping my own life together, and making sure that the rest of his life is as good as possible.

As a nurse, the full responsibility of taking care for him seems to have fallen on me. Everyone (including my dad) seems to think that it's easier for me because of my profession. In some ways it is, but, it is a lot to try to do it on my own. I don't mind being the primary caregiver, but I really with my brother world step up. I get so sick of always being the one who has to have the difficult discussions, take time off of work,and have all the answers.

I am sorry you are struggling so much. But I guess I just wanted you to know that you're not alone. Stay strong and know that this will someday pass. You're in my thoughts