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To think Dad might have lied about cancer?

(60 Posts)
NotQuiteJustYet Mon 25-Apr-16 00:26:11

My father was an alcoholic when I was growing up and our relationship was very strained. He and my mother split when I was young and there are large periods of my childhood I don't really recall him being round at all. He told me as a teenager that he had been diagnosed with cancer and had 6 months to live. I was understandably heartbroken and made a conscious effort to spend more time with him, as a result our relationship improved because I was damned grateful for the time I had with him.

Over the last 13 years we've discussed this maybe a handful of times without me being cut off for one reason or another. Every other time it's been brought up, I've been told that it's not progressed hence he's still with us, everything's fine, and he's changed the topic. There's never been anything close to a discussion over doctors, treatments, appointments etc.

I've never had reason not to believe my dad due to symptoms and tests he's briefly mentioned - so I just took it at face value that he didn't want to talk about it, and I've never pushed him as the few times we have spoken I got very upset at the prospect of losing my dad.

My dad has always asked me not to tell anyone else and I have to admit, I've not kept to my word over this. How are you meant to keep something like that bottled up when even he won't speak to you about it? This now means that a web of my family and friends know but he doesn't know they know.

I filled out my dad's sickness benefit forms for him again this year, but this year there was a very clear question along the lines of, 'Do you have cancer and/or are you receiving treatment for cancer?' and he told me to put 'NO' by this. I questioned why this was a 'no' but apparently there's another form that this goes on for a different benefit. Does anyone know if this is the case?

I've seen what cancer does to people, how both cancer itself and it's treatments ravages people and my dad has never been like that. Over the last few years there's been niggling doubts but I've told myself to shut up, because surely no parent would lie to their child and prolong it for this long, but this gut feeling has stuck around.

Am I being unreasonable to have this horrible gut feeling that he's been lying all along? Am I being a massive bitch here? What do I do?

fatmomma99 Mon 25-Apr-16 00:38:26

"dad, have you really ever had cancer?"

Horrid situation. The 'good' that has come from this potential and horrific lie is how it's improved your relationship as a consequence.

Separate (if you can) your dad with cancer and your feeling about it -these are different things and should be treated as such.

good luck, and hopefully he isn't dying!

NeedsAsockamnesty Mon 25-Apr-16 00:55:57

I don't know much about how cancer works but I have 4 friends who have had cancer who are still alive (3 Breast 1 testicular) all 4 would tick the no box if you asked them today if they currently had cancer

TiffanyBonj Mon 25-Apr-16 01:10:13

I really don't think you should have told anyone if he asked you to keep it a secret, and you should have told him straight away that you'd told.

The lie or possible lie is a ticking time bomb, the truth is going to come out with so many people involved, someone's going to tell him that they know etc and it'll snowball from there, best option is to get your feelings straight, regardless of his answer how will you feel?

If he did lie, will you still want a relationship with him?

And then you ask him, straight out, it won't be pleasant but it's either you ask him, someone else brings it up or you carry on and have doubts forever

Alasalas2 Mon 25-Apr-16 01:13:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NotQuiteJustYet Mon 25-Apr-16 01:25:22

Just to clarify I was 13 when my dad gave me this news, over the years it's only been discussed with close family on my mum's side - none of whom have any contact with my dad, the closest of my friends and my now husband. It's unrealistic to expect me to keep something like potentially terminal cancer to myself for all of these years especially when I was so young and it effected me so badly not knowing when I was going to lose my dad. No one has even spoken to my dad about it so as far as he's aware they don't know. None of his side of the family know about this either.

I would have thought if he'd had the all clear he would have told me. My dad is very open and honest about all other medical issues he has, I've been doing this disability living allowance forms etc. for as long as I can remember, this is the only thing he's been secretive over, but I get that people can be like that.

I could never cut my dad out of my life, I think if he has lied to me it will have been because he was at a pretty desperate time in his life then and has never been able to see a way out of the lie - or that's what I'd like to hope.

I just don't know how I can confront him or if I can. I'm meant to be seeing him today and I feel sick at the thought of the elephant in the room. Who the hell lies about that?! At the same time though, if he hasn't lied then I'm the world's shittiest daughter.

NotQuiteJustYet Mon 25-Apr-16 01:31:08

I haven't been included in the diagnostics or appointments at all, is it possible that they could have given him a wrong timescale over something that was benign?

I know he's had polyps removed before during a colonoscopy incase they became cancerous, but he has also 100% told me in the past he has colon cancer.

Alasalas2 Mon 25-Apr-16 01:45:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NotQuiteJustYet Mon 25-Apr-16 02:07:44

Thanks Alasalas2 I'll try and pluck up the courage to sit down with him today and have a proper chat for my own sanity. Part of me hopes this has just been a HUGE misunderstanding on my behalf and a breakdown in communication.

minatiae Mon 25-Apr-16 02:14:28

Did he tell you what type of cancer? Is he on medication?

If it is CML, he could easily be telling the truth with the details. The form thing is weird tho.

Bogeyface Mon 25-Apr-16 02:46:03

I would be wondering too. None of what he has said adds up all together. Bits of it go together, and other bits go together, but they each sort of undermine the other iykwim. Saying it is under contol, so implying he is living with it long term, but then saying "no" on the forms doesnt add up at all.

Could you ask him under the guise of getting life insurance/ health insurance? Say that they asked if a family member had cancer, what it was, how it was treated etc and see what he says. That way you can say "But dad, I need to know so I can get insured!" if he tries to sweep it under the carpet.

People do lie about having cancer sadly, some for financial gain, some to be emotionally manipulative/controlling and some because they want sympathy and attention. I can imagine it happens quite often.

mathanxiety Mon 25-Apr-16 03:25:51

He could well answer no if he doesn't currently have cancer. He may well have had the all clear. Or his cancer may have been benign.

When you were aged 13 he may well have only told you the worst possible scenario in case the worst happened and may not have felt it was appropriate to involve you in appointments or tests or follow up tests over the years. He may have got the all clear. You were still pretty much a child after all.

Alcoholics are more prone to colon cancer, iirc, with the link between cancer and alcohol consumption stronger in men than in women.

Inkanta Mon 25-Apr-16 04:12:35

Sounds to me like he made it up and I feel for you, - it was an awful thing to say to a 13 year old daughter - that he had 6 months to live.

Obviously he doesn't want to admit the lie. If he can say that to a 13 year old he is accountable and should answer your questions.

The original lie was probably to do with hankering for sympathy - and something you shouldn't hanker for in this way from a child.

Inkanta Mon 25-Apr-16 04:19:55

'My dad has always asked me not to tell anyone else and I have to admit, I've not kept to my word over this. How are you meant to keep something like that bottled up when even he won't speak to you about it? This now means that a web of my family and friends know but he doesn't know they know.'

Yes agree with you OP. You did right to lesson the burden he put on your small shoulders - and sharing it. Well done.

He had no right to tell you to keep it secret. And if it turns out to be a lie - as it looks like it is, that is a particularly wicked thing to do.

MumsGoneToIceland Mon 25-Apr-16 04:58:40

If you haven't already had the chat, can you tell your dad that when you have medical appointments/fill out forms for insurance etc, you are asked if there is a history of cancer in the family and you need to know more details so you can answer the questions accurately?

Blu Mon 25-Apr-16 08:39:45

I would not use any untrue subterfuge to get him to tell you. That just spreads the web of untruth telling and doesn't help your relationship in the long term. A person (potentially) lying to you is not a reason to become tainted and become a liar yourself. You will just exchange one feeling for feeling grubby.

Can you say something like 'Dad I am so glad we can talk these days, and have I ever told you how pleased I am that you overcame your drinking (if he has). Things were hard for all of us during my childhood. Can you just put my mind at rest about something? What happened around that time you said you had terminal cancer? Was it a misunderstanding, or you felt you needed urgent help and attention? You never said you had the all clear, so it's been on my mind? Whatever happened it meant we have been able to have a better relationship in the long term, but this is playing on my mind. Can you talk to me about it?'

OrangesandLemonsNow Mon 25-Apr-16 08:42:11

I have has cancer but it was benign (surgically removed). I would tick the 'no' box to that question if I had to. It wouldn't be disingenuous.

So have I and I would tick 'no' probably too.

allowlsthinkalot Mon 25-Apr-16 08:52:21

My understanding from a medical point of view is that a benign tumour isn't cancer? A tumour with cancerous cell changes is malignant?

Heebiejeebie Mon 25-Apr-16 09:00:06

You can't have benign cancer, they are opposites. Cancer = malignant

You can have localised cancer or pre-cancerous changes, you can have cancer that is cured. But you can't have benign cancer, in medical terms.

It sounds highly likely your dad made it up. But because he was scared of losing you.

PeppaIsMyHero Mon 25-Apr-16 09:03:49

What do you want to achieve?

Imagine if you ask him and he says yes, he made it up. How will you feel? What will you do?

If you ask him and he says he did have it, will you ever believe him?

It sounds as though you now have a good relationship. Are you able to just be grateful that he's still with you, whether or not he's been ill, and put it behind you as it's now irrelevant?

RaeSkywalker Mon 25-Apr-16 09:17:09

Parts of his story don't ring true OP. I'm also shocked that he asked you to keep this to yourself at 13, with no thought for the support you might need.

So he never told you he has the all clear, but he's asked you to tick a box saying he doesn't have cancer? That is strange.

I think I'd talk to him- he told you this when you were 13, so it doesn't make sense to me that he won't discuss it openly now, at least to give you the bare facts. If nothing else, I'd want to do some reading up about genetic links to be proactive about my own healthcare in future.

My DM has had cancer twice- she was first diagnosed when I was 20 and I was terrified then. It must've been very hard to deal with as a child but it sounds like you rose to the occasion.

shovetheholly Mon 25-Apr-16 09:29:33

I'm so sorry, OP. The story really doesn't add up does it? Someone with terminal cancer ad 6 months to live doesn't just spontaneously get better without any medical intervention whatsoever.

I think you need to decide whether you can simply live knowing your father is just telling lies about this, or whether you want to confront him. What would confronting him achieve, practically and emotionally? He will still have done this!!

Dawndonnaagain Mon 25-Apr-16 09:38:43

I'm afraid there is no separate form for this. I suspect he was desperately trying to hang on to your relationship. How you deal with it now is up to you.

firesidechat Mon 25-Apr-16 09:42:54

You can't have benign cancer, they are opposites. Cancer = malignant

You can have localised cancer or pre-cancerous changes, you can have cancer that is cured. But you can't have benign cancer, in medical terms.

I was going to say this too. There is no such thing as benign cancer.

Op has your dad mentioned recent treatments for the cancer, as I'm assuming the "cancer" diagnosis was years ago now. Lots of people get cancer, are cured and can honestly say that they aren't having treatment for cancer now. My husband had cancer, doesn't have cancer presently, but will always have to have investigations and possible treatment. It's not always clear cut.

Having said all that, it seems unlikely that he ever had cancer. Being nice about it, he possibly had a cancer scare and exaggerated it to get sympathy, but I would challenge him about it and see what he says. He was being massively unfair to dump this on a child and then to continue the lie.

Alasalas2 Mon 25-Apr-16 09:48:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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