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My son's wife was dx with stage 4 breast cancer a year ago. Their relationship went from volatile to physical on both parts. They are both getting councilling and have a social worker involved. I told my son under no circumstance could I accept their bad behavior and it needed to stop or they needed to get further than arms reach from one another. Their answer to that was to tell me to stop contacting them. I understand their grief but I didn't want them to hurt one another or one of them end up in jail.. My son says I need to stop contacting them, so I have, now he claims I am not supportive. Is there any hope for my relationship with these two? I feel like a whipped dog, not sure whether to curl up and give up or bite back to survive. My son is a grown 30 yr old but I love him more than he will let me express, but what do I do about their unacceptable behavior towards each other ?...and now towards me??.......
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Avatar_f_tn
There is always hope.

I don't think that getting defensive and fighting with them will be helpful to anyone.

I don't think that your son is preventing you from expressing your love.  He may have issues receiving your love or receiving it in the form you are giving it.  To me, it sounds as though you are choosing not to express it.  If you believed in it strongly enough you would still do it.  Maybe look at ways that work for both of you.

I think that their behaviour towards each other is their issue.  It sounds like that they are getting counselling for that and other stuff.

Towards yourself, you set limits.

Maybe ask them how they would like you involved or how they feel you can help.

Maybe some therapy or support for yourself would also be a good idea.  ??

Just use common sense and work with what you have in front of you at the time.  Things change.
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Avatar_f_tn
Thank you for your insight and reassurance. I will seek help.
I will also keep trying, it's not been easy for any of us and my biggest fear is to add to their burden.
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I'm only a layperson so you need to use your own judgement.
I have a personality disorder along with recurrent breast issues.  I think that people can also be triggered by how you act around them.  Like over-protecting them, etc.  Be sensitive but be normal, be yourself.

It's especially hard for everybody.  No one likes to see their children suffer.

Another thought could be that if the cancer has spread it could be affecting your daughter-in-laws personality.  It might not be.  It might just be their way of dealing with their grief and loss.  Nt really that productive a way to spend your last years.  It's a process though and everyone has their own way of dealing with stuff.

It could be a good idea to keep communication channels open.
There is also a good chance that your son will need your support when she dies.
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I must say for being a "lay" person , you are in my opinion very smart and insightful. I do appreciate the realism that you bring to the situation.
My husband & I reviewed your comments together and decided to give them some space for right now, & look into some councilling.
I really appreciate you sharing some candid advice from a place I can not even imagine being in.
I will keep hope and keep trying, I do think I was being over protective......
Lani
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Avatar_f_tn
Thanks.  Give them space but only if that is what they want.  People can lash out at others when they feel hurt or angry.  Sometimes some behaviour means they are actually wanting and needing more support.  It's an intuitive thing I think.

I haven't been diagnosed with anything yet.  I have my biopsy on Monday but have been prepared by my doctors for the worst.  I just read that chest wall leisons from breast cancer have a poor prognosis.  I don't know what to think.  My doctors nearly in tears during my consult.  I'm kind of freaking out even though we won't know conclusively until next week after the biopsy.  Not sure I even want to go there but know that it is an important step in the diagnostic and treatment phase.

Just wondering, but is part of the problem that you feel as though you aren't being included enough?  And perhaps feel powerless?

Usually family members are able to access support through cancer support groups.

I think that sometimes we need to back off a little and let people grow through allowing them to take risks or responsibility instead of mothering them and doing everything for them.  I honestly don't know how relationships work.  Just do what is natural and works best for you and others.

Good luck with it all.
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Avatar_f_tn
I will be thinking of you and pray for the best. I am a nurse and have been for over 30 years. Like you say "There is Always Hope" !
as for questions you posed, I do think that I have always been there to "make things happen" for my kids and as you say, he must find his own way on this one. My daughter in law has cancer in her breast, liver & bones. So far she is getting hormone treatment and doing well.
I am happy that I am having this oppurtunity to share thoughts & ideas with you.
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Avatar_f_tn
I just wrote  along reply but it disappeared so i will shorthand

I'm stage IV BC and a psychologist aged 46.

Key points:
1.your son/wife are receiving counselling - this is a process and so you need to allow the process to run without your input.
2. they are freaking out; the medical system & dx results into total loss of self-determimation.... this means they do not want to be "taken care of" per se.
3. likely they need help - they know they do but don't know in what way, and don;t want to ask (being brave/strong/protective etc)

recommend:
meet you/husband + son/wife for heart-to-heart.  let them know you have no idea what they are going through but you will be there.  Give them a list of practical help sueggestions that do not "move in" on their marital space/adult roles; e.g. walk dog, wash car, pay a bill, collect/drop dvds, library books... things that need to be done and are outside the marital home but are hard to get the energy to do when you are fighting to hold on to your marriage/sanity/sense of self etc....  leave meeting with one concrete thing you will do for them.

remember too that a smiley face SMS can go a long way :)
hope helps
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Avatar_f_tn
Thank you.  This is all new to me and feels pretty overwhelming.  Survivorship rates seem fairly good.  Not great but OK.  I guess your daughter-in-law is a good example of that.  It's reassuring in a sense.

I'm finding it the opposite, I think.  Maybe it is because they have a concrete diagnosis, etc.  And maybe it has something to do to my abandonment issues and need for nurturing but I feel like I need support.  I need help in guiding me through this process.
I guess maybe I still have that sense of autonomy though and self-determination.

The advice in the post above was good.  Always helps when you get advice from someone who knows what they're talking about (and has experience of both perspectives).

Goo luck with everything.
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Avatar_f_tn
I really am very fortunate to have found both of you!
Sian, thank you, I will work toward your suggestions of meeting. Right now I am working on opening the lines of communication back up.
I am embracing every suggestion, please continue to give me any insight and I will keep you aware of my progress as I wish you both will keep me informed of yours......
All the best.
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Thank you for your kind words, encouragement and concern.
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I have reached out with a hand written correspondence about a week ago. Presently I am trying to wait patiently....for a response of some sort.
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Avatar_f_tn
good start, but don't wait for/expect a response.  Writing is always tricky because you never know how it will be interpreted.

If no reponse within a week you can assume that they won't. If that is the case you would be best to wait until there is a significant family event that acts an excuse to contact e.g. a birthday - this also helps to get the focus off cancer.
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Avatar_f_tn
I am trying to be patient. It is very difficult....
I hope you are feeling well and thank you so much for your time. I cherish it .
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Avatar_f_tn
I can appreciate the waiting.  With my mental health issues I want everything to have happened yesterday.  One day to me can often feel like an eternity.  With written correspondence there is also the risk of it being lost in the post.  To many what if's.  (For me anyway.)  It can be really hard to bridge that gap.  You know what you want to do or what outcome you would like but ... achieving it sometimes is a whole other story.
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I hope your testing went smoothly. My thoughts are with you.
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Thanks.  My results came back positive for cancer.  Had blood work done yesterday and see my doctor this afternoon.  I'm not processing the news very well.  Just don't want to have to deal with the diagnosis and treatment.  Is a little ironic because you don't get the option of getting off at any stage.  Pity really because I would really like to and go back to how things were three weeks ago.

Have you heard back from your son?
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Avatar_f_tn
My heart is heavy for you, but remember there is always hope. In the years I have been nursing, there have been incredible advancements in the treatment of your disease. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
I think I have had contact from my son. I received a bonsai tree in the mail, I suppose for Mother's Day, called the "Olive Branch" with a blank card and no return address.
It meant the world to me.
Thank you for mentoring me through this.
I look forward to our exchanges, please keep me informed as you make your way through your diagnosis.
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I hope you are both feeling well.  I have not been able to have any verbal contact with my son but he sent his Dad his latest grade from graduate class.
It doesn't look like a family meeting is in the near future.
Sian, how long have you had your diagnosis of BC IV ?
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Avatar_f_tn
That is excellent news that your son sent results... I hope your husband sent him a congratualations (presumably) message/ecard etc.  That is a real hand reaching out.  It was also a very strong statement from your son that he is more than his wife's cancer!

I have been 4C for about 4 months technically but probably for nearly one year - its a bit irrelevant really; just running through the different chemos trying to get one that works!
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I hope that your treatment is being effective. You are right, my son is a very multifaceted being. I have said all along that I know he loves this woman.
I was talking to my older brother yesterday about the situation. He feels that it is hard for me because I have always taken care of people my whole life and now my son is a grown man. I found his statement heartwarming and odd at the same time as he is 6 years my elder that he saw me as the caretaker....
My son's wife will have been dx since last Aug. and her tx started in Nov.
As far as I know, she is doing fine on hormonal tx physically but the chemically induced menopause has been rough on her emotions. I remember telling my own Gyno that I would survive my own menopause, but I wasn't sure my family would !
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Well my son make contact with one family member so I am pleased. I have followed your advice just doing what would normally, letting him know I care through cards and packages, voicemail messages.
Hoping that one day he will allow me back in their lives. I hope that you are both feeling the best that you can and your treatments are running smoothly.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi - glad to that things are moving in the right dorection - albeit slowly.  Just keep plugging away and I'm sure the trust will rebuild.  I'm basically ok - its never good news anymore; but one just keeps on keeping on!
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