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Struggling to cope with an angry father dying of cancer

26 Dec 2017 20:59

My father was diagnosed with throat cancer 12 months ago. He has always been verbally and physically abusive to both me and my mother who died 10 years ago and he is also an alcoholic and extremely controlling and manipulative and will play people off against each other.After my mum died he suffered with depression and tried to drink himself to death numerous times and for the last 10 years has turned obsessive writing notes which are everywhere in his house and trying to replace my mum with numerous women he has met online. Anyway After 9 lots of chemo he has recently had a fall which has rendered him immobile and having difficulty communicating. After 3 weeks in hospital he has been transferred to a hospice in the past couple of days. The problem is that I have no other family and when visiting him on my own he is aggressive demanding and still trying to control me. I have visited daily and he doesn’t even care that I am there unless he wants something or for me to do something for him. In the presence of other people he is a sweet little old man but he is entirely different on my own and was with my mum. At the moment he is demanding to go home so his latest gf can visit him more easily (which is all’s he talks about) I can understand that he doesn’t want to be in the hospice and whenever I try to explain that they are looking after him he gets angry at me, he insists that I don’t go to see him enough (although I go daily), I am finding it increasingly stressful when visiting time approaches. I don’t know how long he has left to live as the nurses are vague but he has started to hallucinate and hasn’t eaten for days. I just feel so helpless but also angry at him for the way he is to me and left wondering if this is normal or if I am heartless. I keep thinking, will they send him home? Should I be doing more? Will the nurses think I am a terrible daughter for not spending all day at his side and how long will this continue for. Sorry to keep going on but has anyone ever experienced anything similar? 

Re: Struggling to cope with an angry father dying of cancer

26 Dec 2017 21:38 in response to Jane12

Hi Jane,

So sorry to read about your awful situation. 

Sorry to sound harsh, but why do you put up with his abuse?You could quietly record one of his rants on your phone and then tell him if it doesn't stop you'll share it with the people who think that he's such a nice gent. 

We went through something similar with someone who was horrid to his wife, son and daughter. He got such a shock and was ashamed when told one of them had by coincidence had their phone on speakerphone when he'd called and everyone in the room had heard him when he started being abusive.

Sadly cancer doesn't make people into saints, but it can exaggerate both the good and bad aspects of their personalities. 

Good luck



Re: Struggling to cope with an angry father dying of cancer

26 Dec 2017 21:49 in response to Jane12

I wouldn't say you were a heartless daughter - you are going well beyond the call of duty given what you are having to tolerate.    I for one would not blame you if you cut down on the visits but I can tell you don't want to abandon him now when - forgive me if I am misreading the symptoms - it could be that the end is not far off.  I should imagine that the hospice staff already have some idea of how unpleasant he is to you.  Have you managed to have a chat with them and tell them you are struggling with the visits.  You have to look after yourself.  There are previous posts about other children of terminally-ill patients who sound to be similarly difficult and unpleasant - if you put something like "abusive father" in the Search Forum heading at the top of this screen you will find that others have struggled in the way you describe also.  I consider you to be a great daughter but don't destroy your own peace of mind while trying to help your father who it appears has never done much to deserve your care.  I expect others may respond to your post also.  Take care of yourself.

Re: Struggling to cope with an angry father dying of cancer

26 Dec 2017 22:46 in response to davek

Thank you. This is very reassuring to read, I fear it is a little too late to try the recording but this would have been useful in the past, and useful if anyone else is reading this in the future. I suppose I feel like I have a duty as an only daughter and because my mother would always go back to him no matter what he did and how abusive he was. At first I thought it was the alcohol. But after he went through detox (twice another long story which I won’t bore you with) he was the same sober unfortunately. I will have a search through previous posts. Thank you xx

Re: Struggling to cope with an angry father dying of cancer

27 Dec 2017 01:09 in response to Jane12


I am so sorry to hear what you are going through.  I experienced some of what you describe, my father was verbally abusive and also an alcoholic that was recovering. He had a variety of health issues and we aren't sure what he finally died from.  But, I know his illnesses made him a bitter, angry man and he lashed out at those around him. He also had a rough upbringing but I won't go into that.  My best advice to you is to do what you need to do to.  If it means not visiting, fine.  If it means visiting, fine. God knows your heart. Try to forgive, too, it helped me move on. Forgiving is not saying what was done was "ok".  

Laura xx


Re: Struggling to cope with an angry father dying of cancer

1 Jan 2018 17:29 in response to Jane12
Hi Jane Just wanted to let you know that I am in a very similar situation as yourself but with my mom. My mom was diagnosed with stage 3b lung cancer almost 12 months ago. Following a bad fall 3 weeks ago, my mom was admitted to hospital, we found out that the cancer has now spread to her brain and she literally has weeks left to live. As my mom is now bed bound and the location of the lesions to the brain have left her unable to do anything for herself she has been moved to a nursing home for end of life care. My mom has become very angry and aggressive towards me, her speech and hearing is not great so communicating with her is very difficult. The nursing staff have been great and told me not to try and be by her bedside all the time. They told me if I’m not careful I will burn myself out. I am sure from what you have said, thatvas a daughter, you are doing as much as you can. Please don’t punish yourself by thinking you are a bad daughter and remember that it is more than likely his illness that is making him behave the way he is. I am trying to let my mom’s mood swings go over my head as much as I can as I know that it really isn’t her. Hope this helps xx

Re: Struggling to cope with an angry father dying of cancer

2 Jan 2018 10:04 in response to Jane12

I am sorry,  your Dad is scare. He needs you. He loves you even though he might not seem at times. You two have eachother. Give him all the time and love you can.

Re: Struggling to cope with an angry father dying of cancer

18 Jan 2018 02:37 in response to Jane12



Hi Jane,

I notice that you have only recently joined our midst, so first of all let me extend a very warm welcome to Cancer Chat.

I apologize for not replying sooner, but I fear that your situation is very similar to mine a few years ago and, it has taken me some time to get to grips with your situation.. I feel for your current circumstances. I am the only daughter of an alcoholic father who was extremely abusive to both my mother and me. To others he was the perfect gentleman, generous to all he met. He would stand anyone a drink, provided they kept him company. He had several affairs and my mother finally left him after 19 years of he--.

He went into rehab on several occasions, but always relapsed. When he finally succumbed to lung cancer, he went into a care home. By this time he also had dementia and didn’t recognize family members, but for all he didn’t recognize mum and me, he still managed to keep all his vitriol for our visits, yet to be ‘Mr Congeniality’ with all of his other visitors. It didn’t matter how much we did for him it was never enough and we both came away in tears from our visits.

It must be torture for you trying to do everything on your own. It might be worth doing as Anneliz suggested and having a word with the hospice staff, telling them just how difficult things are for you and what your dad wants. Have you suggested to him that he is welcome to go home if his girlfriend is willing to take him home and look after him? It’s amazing just how quickly friends like these disappear when things become difficult.

Cancer medication can certainly alter ones moods, but it sounds as if this is nothing new for you. I am thinking of you and am here whenever you want to talk. If you don’t want to disclose personal matters on an open forum, you can private message me.

It sounds as if you are used to feeling downtrodden and accept this as the norm. It has taken me years to accept that this is not the case. You need to take care of yourself too. Remember that if you are too worn out from daily visits of verbal abuse, you will be of no use to your father. You may find that by talking to some of his care team and informing them of the situation you can stand your ground and, he might even appreciate you all the more because of that.

You have been a good daughter if you are still around after all these years, so try not to beat yourself up by how you feel. Please keep in touch and let us know how you are getting on.  I am always here for you whenever you want to talk.

Kind regards,

Jolamine xx