Hi all, Apologies in advance for a long post.. I am the sister to a cancer patient. My brother was diagnosed with cancer 6 years ago. And had to recently undergo a BMT (as recommended by his oncologist) due to a mutation caused by chemo. He is in complete remission and the bmt went well under the circumstances. Although he needs a lot of care. He is 46 and a few years older to me. He is also single and prior to his cancer diagnosis was a very heavy smoker and drinker. My mother and me (with my husband) are his caregivers. I also have 2 school going kids. The issue is that my brother Due to his alcohol addiction of many years was always volatile, unpredictable and we had various issues with anger, drama etc. i was always the steady rock (my mother lives in another country) and my husband was incredible as well. While he went through multiple jobs, multiple girl friends, one failed marriage … we were always there. Don’t get me wrong, when he was good, he was very very good.. he is a jolly guy with a hearty smile and loves my daughters to bits. However, our relationship was rocky due to his outbursts and irresponsible behaviors (which he never apologised for) and it also has severe implications on my relationship with my mother who I felt was his enabler and who refused to put any blame on him.. and ofcourse me and my life was an afterthought and I completely stopped sharing any of my woes with them… I sound bitter.. but I took this in my stride and doubled up on everything at the expense of my family life and marriage the minute he was diagnosed with cancer.. I helped financially and when we found out he needed chemo, j also took off and my husband and me alternated every single doctors visit, chemo session and when he was hospitalized as well.. I contacted doctors and specialists all over the world .. as we discussed treatment options etc. it was all okay.. and I had decided I needed to give my job and my kids and my marriage some time now so.. we have had several issues in my life too.. including the family being separated for a year due to covid as I was stuck in another country, me developing severe anxiety and my hubby and I getting therapy as we had really drifted apart. so this time when we realised he needed a bmt I also told myself I will try my best to have a sense of normalcy in my family which was together after 3 years..ofcourse still not missing his appointments or any important doctor visits… my mom and dad stay with him and thankfully she is healthy and she can take care of him at home. (We live in a place where we can get house help.. so mom doesn’t need to clean etc). Also he has an option (which i recommended to have a house nurse/help). Money is not the issue. Thankfully. With that background, I want to express my dilemma .. off late he has been lashing out at us. recently we got covid. My whole family .. things have opened up in my city and we are out and about for our jobs, kids school etc. he unfortunately is in the hospital for a follow up and monitoring.. he started telling me how I haven’t done anything, my mother had done everything for him and therefore I should not worry and just mind my own business (this is when I told him we had covid). He started picking issues with everything .. WHen we followed up with the doctors over the phone (that’s the normal protocol here as doctors visiting time don’t match ours .. we have always done that in the past and he was too weak to give us any updates.) and the doc mentioned it to him he was again wild and this time he was abusive .. calling me and my husband names and entitled and self righteous and what not..and that we should not pretend to help! (This is after me helping him in every way possible including many bouts when he lived with us in the last 20 years). He hasn’t apologised and I doubt he will ..he is calling my praying for him and the fasts I do for him self righteous and to give myself some false pretence that I am helping.. My mom is visiting him in the hospital and I am still supporting my mom in every was remotely. my question. - What shouid I do going forth? I have a full time Job at a great but intense company which I have just joined and need to even travel a bit .. we need the money. I have teenage daughters who desperately need me, j have a husband and a marriage hanging on taters.. his cancer is in remission and it’s a matter of him being careful and getting better. (It will take time) My mom stays with him and she is healthy and she cooks and takes care. He can easily get help (it’s cheap where I stay). I am finding it very very hard to get over his abusive words and calling us names when we have put everything aside for him and I never set my boundaries as I always thought of him being alone..my husband who has also taken time off to help him is very hurt and this time is putting his foot down and asking me to distance myself and focus on my family. My mom understands my dilemma but is helpless. (I will continue to be there for her and support her every day). Should I distance myself a bit for my family’s sake this time and only step in when needed. Is it okay not to visit my brother for a while if he never apologises? Is it selfish to prioritize my family and kids? Is it okay to be hurt and effected deeply by his abuse ( he always had the tendency to by abusive). But earlier I always put it on the alcohol.
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Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.