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How do I support someone who doesn't want support?

(5 Posts)
GuybrushThreepwoodMP Sun 07-Dec-14 04:49:46

My dad has been diagnosed with throat cancer this week. It's very very serious. He's being scheduled for surgery immediately to have his whole voice box removed. This is the only option.

I've been to visit them this weekend and he is just so poorly. Coughing and barely able to catch his breath. Grey. He's obviously in a lot of pain. And he's very frightened. It's only a month since I've seen him and he's changed so much. He hasn't even had any treatment yet- just a biopsy two weeks ago and then will have the surgery next week.

A really hard part is that he doesn't want any help. He is obviously miserable and scared. He doesn't want to talk about it, he doesn't want to take positive steps to prepare himself for rehabilitation. My mum is finding it so difficult because she is living with a man who is obviously so sick but she can't do anything. I don't know how to support either of them.

This surgery, if he survives, will obviously change him. He won't be able to talk or eat normally. He'll have to breath through a stoma. My instinct in difficult situations is to try and take positive steps to understand and prepare for what's going to happen. But he doesn't want to do that. He hasn't even found out what the surgery involves or what he will be like afterwards because he doesn't want to know.

How can someone so 'glass half empty' get through something like that without just sinking? How can I help my mum? She's just lost.

I don't know if he wants to survive the surgery. A part of me hopes he doesn't.

StillProcrastinating Sun 07-Dec-14 08:51:36

My dad had throat cancer. I think you have to put the patient first, and act as he wants you to act. And you will need someone to talk to about how you feel, but this probably shouldn't be your mum or dad, but someone slightly more removed from the situation that knows you both.

My dad's voice changed, and he didn't like talking to strangers incase they couldn't understand him. Not being able to eat solids was very difficult. As so many social situations revolve around food and drink (drinking was hard too - he basically had to pour things down his throat, and couldn't sip).

I'm not surprised he's worried and fearful. It's not great. But it is better than the alternative and you will all adapt.

I saw a new side to my parents' relationship through all .dads treatment, and it was wonderful to watch. I had always just thought of them as my parents, and it was lovely to watch them being such a strong team together. I hope you find the same.

My dad lived for 5 years after his first incidence of throat cancer. Sadly he got a second primary throat cancer (so a separate cancer), and had to have another op for that. That was the one that later recurred on his lungs. And he didn't drink or smoke, so he was very had done by to say the least. But the first one he nailed, and I hope your Dad does too.

All the best x

StillProcrastinating Sun 07-Dec-14 08:57:52

Btw , we spent a lot of time at the hospital. Because dad couldn't speak, he was scared of being overlooked. So we took it in turns (mum mostly), but we were there all day everyday and it really made a difference.

It might help your dad feel better if he knows someone will do that for him ? Although he might not be worried about that yet, and you don't want to add to his worries.

If you do end up doing that, you'll find that you get home late to a cold house with no food. So take some time now to stock the freezer for your mum so she doesn't have to think about food at that time.

whatisforteamum Tue 09-Dec-14 07:58:13

Guybrush i am so sorry you are going through this i am a lets find out all the info type of person.When Mum and Dad were diagnosed they didnt want to know too much about the treatment.They knew they were incurable.Mum was more open but when it was dads turn he prefferred to talk about anything other than chemo,prognosis and scans etc.
you can call macmillan 0808 808 0000 this is for patients or families.
Also let your parents know you are there for them in a practical way too as treatment and appointments take up alot of time.Look after yourself and i hope the op goes well.

BobbyBingoooo Tue 09-Dec-14 08:07:18

I'm close to someone who has a very bad cancer prognosis. Best friends daughter who I've known since she was a baby.

My friend was very reluctant to accept any help. But I think all you can do is take it all one day at a time and make it clear you're available to help in any way.

I try and help my friend by cooking and freezing the odd meal and visiting often.

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