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Mums dying of lung cancer and I'm so angry at her.

(40 Posts)
Millie3030 Tue 21-Oct-14 14:18:04

I needed to vent somewhere and I can't in RL. I have to be all positive and smiley and inside I feel like I'm going to explode.

My mum was diagnosed in May with small cell lung cancer that has spread and there is nothing they can do. I am angry at her, so angry and it's not getting better the more time goes on the more I feel myself pulling away from her, preparing myself that she won't be here for long.

When I used to beg her to give up when I was young her and dad would smoke away in the car without even opening a window, it was horrid and I stank of smoke for years until I moved out, she would always tell me to "shut, stop going on, you've gotta die of something" but now it's happening she won't even entertain any other conversation unless it's about how she is feeling, her treatment, her appointments, symptoms etc.

My sister got a promotion the other day and when we all met up for breakfast I had got her a congratulations card and was asking her all about it my mum wouldn't even the acknowledge ethe conversation with eye contact, did not say one word for about 30minutes. But as soon as I asked her about what appointment she has coming up then she has loads to say! I want to scream at her "We get it mum you have cancer, it's all we have talked about for 6 months, you're dying, you got it from smoking, something you would never even entertain giving up, this is your fault, now you are going to leave me with my one year old and not be around, have you asked how we are doing, do you even bloody care??!

Has anyone actually felt angry and annoyed at someone with cancer? Or am I the most horrible person in the world?

DontDrinkAndFacebook Tue 21-Oct-14 14:38:33

I can completely identify with everything you've said. My father died in his 60's of lung cancer as did my grandfather, although he was older. My other grandfather dropped dead of a heart attack at 50. My FIL died of chronic emphysema and was housebound and attached to an oxygen tank for the last three years of his life.

All of them were heavy smokers for most of their lives, and the ones who gave up did it too late, the damage was done. My mother did give up in her late 50s after she got a particularly bad chest infection and it scared the life out of her, but she was pretty self-absorbed and unrepentant about smoking around me as a child.

Like you I grew up forever trapped in cars and rooms full of smoke, begging for the window to be opened and being told it was too cold outside. Latterly I worked in pubs and offices where I could not get away from it either. (yes I am that old.)

I also got treated as though I was a nagging, whinging, holier than thou killjoy and treated as though I was somehow the selfish one. All I ever wanted was to be to spend some time in my own home or my own place of work where I wasn't constantly struggling to get away from other people's cigarette smoke, and where I could actually breath non-foul air that didn't made me feel permanently nauseous. And now I have asthma. So thanks for that. hmm

I am angry too. Very angry. I think smokers are unbelievably selfish and narcissistic. They live with their heads up their own arses about the effects their disgusting habit has on everyone else around them, and then to top it all they go and die horrible premature deaths and leave us to deal with that as well. Fuckers.

Spanglecrab Tue 21-Oct-14 14:47:40

I'm with you 100%

Any smokers with children who think that they are not selfish then I think you are deluded,

PumpkinSizedMammaries Tue 21-Oct-14 14:50:24

I dont know..anger is possibly a natural part of coming to terms wirh her cancer.

But you will regret it later if you spend time angry at her and dont reconcile this.

I don't think posts from others ranting on about smokers being selfish are very helpful here.

Sorry you are going through this.

PumpkinSizedMammaries Tue 21-Oct-14 14:51:21

Dontdrink I'm sorry for what you went through but caling OP's mum a fucker wont help anyone.

edamsavestheday Tue 21-Oct-14 14:51:42

I sympathise, what a god-awful situation. But smoking is an addiction. Nicotine is one of the most powerful addictive substances around. I've tried and failed to give up dozens of times over the years - finally (touch wood) am succeeding this time (six weeks since my last fag!).

You might well be angry with her anyway and smoking is just a useful hook to hang it on - people do get angry with their parents for dying, even though we all know it is going to happen, it's a very normal reaction.

Your Mum does sound very selfish, not wanting to talk about anything else, though, she must be driving you up the wall.

edamsavestheday Tue 21-Oct-14 14:53:14

Btw, everyone complaining about growing up in smoke-filled rooms - that was the norm for many people in the 1970s. It's not your families that were peculiarly evil. Passive smoking was not really understood or widely known as a health risk.

PumpkinSizedMammaries Tue 21-Oct-14 14:54:10

I dont think we can assume she is selfish or say how anyone should react when actually in situation of dying.

I'm sure she does totally care about leaving you.

PumpkinSizedMammaries Tue 21-Oct-14 14:54:36

But maybe you should have a good talk to her and tell her how you feel. You may be reconciled then and come closer

GirlWithTheLionHeart Tue 21-Oct-14 15:00:29

People do die of lung cancer and never smoke in their lives.

I understand your anger though, must be really hard

DontDrinkAndFacebook Tue 21-Oct-14 15:05:34

I realise that it was very common Edam and that people were not so aware of the long term dangers and effects on others then, but that aside, they were made very aware of the short term effects and the fact that they were causing their children to live in a stressful and unpleasant environment with high levels of discomfort, BECAUSE WE TOLD THEM but they didn't care. When it's only your own child whose life is made a misery it's easy to just ignore/override their feelings when it suits you.

That is selfish and cruel, in just the same way as it if you deliberately stuck your child in a bath that was uncomfortably hot, or forced them to eat food they hated with no alternative, or didn't give them an outdoor coat when it was freezing cold, or refused to let them sleep when they were tired. You would be making them suffer unnecessarily and not caring enough to stop.

Anyone that wants to poison their own environment with cigarettes doesn't have the right to poison anyone else's. Unless they are your child. hmm

PumpkinSizedMammaries Tue 21-Oct-14 15:06:51

Well that will help the OP to resolve her painful feelings.

HesterShaw Tue 21-Oct-14 15:07:35

flowers OP. I get it.

DontDrinkAndFacebook Tue 21-Oct-14 15:18:50

She asked this question Pumpkin

Has anyone actually felt angry and annoyed at someone with cancer? Or am I the most horrible person in the world?

And I answered it. If you want to offer something additional that might help her come to terms with her anger and frustration and ultimately her grief then go ahead.

Edam came onto the thread and immediately started trying to justify the mother's behaviour, and that of every other parent of a certain era who did the same thing. I responded. I don't think the OP wants to hear platitudes and justifications right now.

Spanglecrab Tue 21-Oct-14 15:25:36

My mum is dead 8 years and my much loved uncle 1 year. Both before time and both avoidable and I'm still angry now.

sweetheart Tue 21-Oct-14 15:29:32


Is it possible that your mum doesn't want to talk about other life events because she is aware that she is going to miss out on things when she is gone and having trouble coming to terms with it? Also is it possible that she feels guilt for the very same reasons you have posted and is possibly utterly devastated that she has brought this somewhat upon herself?

TinklyLittleLaugh Tue 21-Oct-14 15:40:36

This is the thing no one will say, but having a life limiting illness does not make everyone a selfless, inspirational hero.

It made my Dad a whiny, self pitying, utterly selfish, shell of his former self.

And we all sucked it up and supported him, because he was Dad and we loved him.

But, sadly, I'd be lying if i said it hadn't changed my feelings about him on a very basic level. With time, I am forgetting my poorly Dad and remembering my vibrant Dad. But it is taking a long time.

Viviennemary Tue 21-Oct-14 15:48:58

I sympathise and understand you are annoyed because this might all have been preventable. But the point is this is the situation and the clock can't be turned back. So you have to do your best to be supportive even if you do feel annoyed with her. It's an awful situation for all of you and there aren't any answers. flowers

Topseyt Tue 21-Oct-14 15:53:24

OP, your story about your Mum sounds almost identical to what happened to my MIL. In June 2013 she was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer, which had spread far and wide and was incurable.

My understanding of small cell carcinoma, having done a little reading on it, is that it is common in smokers but much less so in non-smokers. My MIL was a dyed-in-the-wool lifelong smoker. She sometimes said in the past that she would give up if she ever became too ill, but in reality she was so addicted that it was never going to happen.

Non-smokers do get lung cancer too, but if I have understood correctly the large cell type is more common for them?? I am prepared to stand corrected if necessary.

You are absolutely entitled to deal with this in any way you need to and you will feel a range of emotions, including anger. Try not to show that anger to your mother though (vent here and elsewhere instead), as you are likely to seriously regret it when the time comes (as it sadly will). Try to make the most of what time you have left with her.

You are angry about what you see as your Mum's selfishness, and that is understandable. We have seen both my FIL and my MIL through different terminal illnesses now. FIL died in 2002 and MIL in May this year. Neither were what I would normally have termed selfish people, but it has been my experience that when people become that ill then in many cases they do start to centre much more on themselves.

It may seem logical to us non-smokers that they should have stopped smoking years ago (indeed, it IS logical), but from the addict's point of view I guess it is much less straightforward.

feelingmellow Tue 21-Oct-14 15:57:40

Strange how we react. My dad was a very heavy smoker all his life, as was my mother and we grew up in a smoke filled house. He died from lung cancer but I was never once angry with him for smoking. He was a lovely selfless man - maybe that's the difference between my experience and that of the op.

Roseformeplease Tue 21-Oct-14 15:58:51

I am still bloody angry with my Dad, who did not die of leukaemia, which would have taken years to kill him. He died from thinking he was invincible, in spite of being told not to, he went on a long plane journey and got DVT. I am still cross because he is missing out on his grandchildren, on our lives, and his death caused a bloody great hole in our lives. He too became the illness and it had to be discussed endlessly, and obsessively.

I get it. You are right to feel angry and I, for one, am glad you have a. Place her to come and vent.

ElephantsNeverForgive Tue 21-Oct-14 16:03:08

Rant away, my DDad chain smoked and gave up too late to prevent him getting heart failure that is killing him by inches.

I know why he smoked and I forgive him most of it, I forgive him the family holidays we couldn't afford for myself, but not for my DM, who would have loved to go away, to have the odd day trip, the odd meal out. These things weren't important to him, they were to her.

She's never complained and he would never have understood if she had.

As for the fact that I'm loosing my hearing at 46 (something passive smoking is strongly implicated in), makes massively pissed off too!

Archfarchnad Tue 21-Oct-14 16:41:33

"As for the fact that I'm loosing my hearing at 46 (something passive smoking is strongly implicated in), makes massively pissed off too!"

Wow, seriously, I didn't know about that - have just done a bit of Googling. That possibly explains my steadily increasing hearing loss in one ear even though I've never worked in a 'loud' industry or gone clubbing too much.

Millie, I think you're absolutely entitled to feel anger right now. It's a very valid emotion when someone close to you is dying - whether it's cancer or another terminal illness is irrelevant. If nothing could have been done to prevent it and they're a brilliant person you just feel anger at the cruelty and senselessness of the world, perhaps anger at your own powerlessness. If the illness was self-inflicted and avoidable, and they're a more complicated personality, you're going to feel anger that they did nothing to prevent it, anger that they're making you go through this, anger at their attitude now, all mixed in with a powerful chunk of guilt because at a time like this you're 'supposed to' be feeling all selfless and full of love. Relationships aren't that simple.

I grew up in a smoke-filled environment too. Our car was a Mini, which in those days had a back window that only opened a tiny bit. When they were both smoking in the car I would have my face jammed up against that open slit, desperately trying to get some fresh air. This was the 70s, perhaps they weren't so aware of the long-term consequences - but they damn well knew how unpleasant it was for me to inhale smoke, and they didn't care. I think I'm allowed to feel anger at that. Not every parent was that selfish.

My mum smoked right through her pregnancy with me and I had a full-term birth weight of less than 6 pounds. Again, she disclaimed any responsibility. She absolutely lacked the sense and maturity - even as an older woman - to look back on her actions and say 'you know what, I really got that wrong, I'm sorry'. It's a mistake I'm trying not to make with my own DC (who absolutely love it when I occasionally fess up to bad decisions).

Millie3030 Tue 21-Oct-14 17:58:09

Thank you all so much, I wasn't even expecting a response let alone all of you taking the time to reply. God mumsnet is like bloomin therapy, it does help, to know other people have gone through it. It really does.

And dontdrinkandfacebook and spanglecrab thank you for not making me feel alone! I do want to call mum a fucker! I want to slap her round the face and say how could you do this to me?? I need you! I don't know what I'm doing!! You can't leave me!! You always said to me 'have children, have children, when am I getting grandchildren? And he is 1 and you are leaving soon. I want to scream a lot of things, but I don't, I just ask her how she is, make plans to see her, meet up, and try and support dad as best I can and carry on.

But I do think smoking is selfish, when my sister turned 16 she started smoking too, so in a small lounge when I was young I had 3 members of my family smoking away until the late evening and if I asked to open a window I was told to go upstairs if I didn't like it. And now I feel like I'm paying for it again, years of being scared of them dying and now they are. (My dad is quite poorly too)

Linda Bellamy dying on Sunday hit hard too, as I was talking to my mum about buying her book last week, then boom she is gone. Makes it all seem so real. When I saw an interview with her on The telly, she had accepted her cancer and was positive and upbeat and it made me so envious of her family and the strong way she was dealing with it, which is the opposite of my mum who is the poor victim. Of course it is bloomin awful that my mum has cancer and I do feel bad for her, but it could have been prevented, small cell lung cancer is mainly from smoking other cancers are the large cell cancers. topseyt I did my research too and yes I think you are right.

I know the clock is ticking, and I know she is a selfish person, she always has been, I don't think she has ever asked me in my life how work is going, or anything like that really. So I shouldn't be surprised really, it just makes the last few months of her life even harder to deal with, it's hard to feel so so sorry for her, when she says things like, "life isn't fair," "I should have just carried on smoking". Ironically she gave up about 6 months before she was diagnosed because of my son being born.

HesterShaw Tue 21-Oct-14 18:27:09

I think it's entirely natural what you're feeling, and rather than being offered explanations as to why your mum is behaving like this which don't help, if it were me I would be appreciating responses saying "Rant away, it's what MN is here for."

An irrational immature part of me is even angry at my dad for developing dementia at the comparatively early age of 69. He retired at 50 and then did absolutely nothing to challenge himself, to keep stimulated, to keep his brain active. He developed depression, and left it ages before going to the docs, and then refused to take medication for it because he thought men shouldn't develop depression and it was weak to admit it etc etc etc. I can't help feeling he wilfully allowed his brain to wither away. And my mother didn't left a finger to try and tackle it either. I'm furious with them both.

Now THAT is unreasonable, but I'm buggered if I use MN to allow people to tell me why I am wrong and awful smile

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