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Dealing with unhelpful comments

BrownowlBrownowl Brisbane Member Posts: 20
Hello everyone 

I’m just reaching out to see if anyone has some wise words on how to deal with the less supportive people in your life. 

After a great day yesterday with amazing friends my in-laws decided to pay a visit. They come with their own issues and challenges which the family have grown to deal with in their own way (positive and negative). 

But today my father in law abruptly asked in front of the group (namely my husband and 7 year old daughter) “so what’s your prognosis?”. I’m not sure what I was expected to say. 

I’ve been diagnosed with metastatic IBC but have been responding really well to my therapy so far and we’re seeing results which we were happily chatting about. My daughter was upset by this discussion. 

Quite upset I just went up to bed claiming fatigue but cried for the rest of the visit. My husband who has been on the brunt of this for most of his life was very supportive thank god. 

I know everyone deals with things differently and we don’t always say the wrong things but this completely flawed me and put me back a few steps emotionally. 

Thanks for listening xo 


  • AfraserAfraser MelbourneMember Posts: 3,387
    Dear @Brownowl

    You clearly have some good understanding of the way in which your in laws navigate the issues in their lives. It’s not your way. The clash is likely be difficult but it may also be occasioned by ingrained patterns of behaviour rather than ill will. You have every right  to tell them how you want your situation and treatment to be discussed - or not discussed. You have every right to limit your exposure to your in-laws if they don’t respect your wishes. There is however a good chance that if you give them a clear understanding of how you want to be treated, they will do so. Awkwardness can make people seem insensitive and thoughtless. Worth a shot anyway. Most of all it’s their problem, not yours. Don’t take It on board. Best wishes. 

  • SisterSister Adelaide Hills, SAMember Posts: 4,858
    People don't always say things the best way but in this situation, it may be worth having a chat to them when you're calmer or your husband doing so.  You can move on (and you will) but it's very difficult to do that if your daughter (their grand-daughter) is also upset.  I don't know the people obviously but it could be that your in-laws are worried and sometimes people just blurt out whatever is on their mind without thought.  
  • AllyJayAllyJay Member Posts: 737
    My step father suffered from foot-in-mouth disease....If ever there was a wrong thing to say, you could be sure it would be him. Once he put me in a similar situation in a social setting (not regarding cancer, but another medical issue), so I flipped the tables on him. He had recently had prostate surgery so I replied (in a carrying voice)..."Well I'm tired about talking about my medical problems, how have you been since your prostatectomy? Have you had any issues with impotence or incontinence at all?" Needless to say that shut him up...quick smart. However it must be said, I detested the man and wasn't worried about any future relationship as we were about to move to Australia. In your case, I would ask your husband to point out that discussing your possible demise (in a round about way) is not entirely a suitable conversation to have in front of the seven year old daughter of the person in question...you. If ever there was an award of The Most Insensitive Comment Ever...he would get a "distinguished" medal. What a prat.
  • MicheleRMicheleR South AustraliaMember Posts: 200
    edited March 21
    Hi @Brownowl,

    No good ideas here unfortunately. People say the darnedest things. I still think people are basically good and maybe the comment though clumsy and inappropriate came from a good place of wanting /hoping for good things for you.  

    Had a good weep myself when a friend told me last night that if i was upset about something it was an opportunity for personal growth. Another friend tells woes like "daughter has in grown toenail" and then "and yes i know cancer is awful". Im at a loss.

  • arpiearpie Mid North Coast, NSWMember Posts: 4,580
    edited March 21
    Well done, @AllyJay comeback!

    Absolutely @Brownowl- what a complete prat. I am surprised his wife didn't jump in on him - but she is probably used to it!  He could have just said "How are you going?" That would have been acceptable.

    Is your husband really close to his family? (Not everyone is!) Maybe get him to ride 'gunshot' & ask them to contact HIM if they are thinking of visiting & NOT to just drop in - EVER. That way he can say 'yay or nay' and pick the setting for the meeting.

    My SIL is a total prat as well - she upset me greatly some time ago and we hate how argumentative & nasty she is to her husband (hubby's twin) even in our presence - so she hasn't been inside our house since then - nearly 10 years now.  We talk on the phone occasionally (when we have to) but I prefer to keep it to texts or emails as her 'chat' turns into 1hr!  Ho Hum!  Her husband (who also has dementia) comes up often with one of his sons (a 4hr trip each way) & we are organising that every 3-4 weeks now that hubby has been diagnosed with aggressive mets - but she will never step foot in our place (and preferably our town) again!  I don't lose any sleep over it.

    Take care, I hope you are feeling better now, chatting about it & I hope you can find a solution xxx

  • BrownowlBrownowl Brisbane Member Posts: 20
    Thanks @arpie. Venting has helped immensely and sort my mind out a bit. Family was always going to be a bit of a minefield going through this but you do what you can do. I can relate. Going to protect my energy and do something nice next time they come around. My health and sanity’s priority at the moment. 
  • arpiearpie Mid North Coast, NSWMember Posts: 4,580
    @Brownowl ....   do something nice next time they come around.....  like LEAVE as they arrive!  ;)   That'll sort 'em!!

    My health and sanity’s priority at the moment. .... ABSOLUTELY - 100% - do what you have to do.

    I think, going thru menopause early (mid 40s) has made me a more 'decisive' person - I just don't put up with the bullshit any more. ;)  I don't have to - and nor do you. xx  I hope your hubby pulls them up on this one & tells them to pipe down! ;) 
  • BrownowlBrownowl Brisbane Member Posts: 20
    @Zoffiel. 100%. Great responses. I’m going to have to practice a few in my downtime. (Not so) funnily enough, he has had a large number of health issues over the last few years. Meanwhile the “I’m so tired must rest...treatment” seems to bide me some sanity. 
  • AfraserAfraser MelbourneMember Posts: 3,387
    Talking about his health issues is probably a sure fire way of getting him to stop talking about yours! It’s surprising the number of people who have to get the focus of conversation back on themselves. More interesting to talk to someone else. 

  • BrownowlBrownowl Brisbane Member Posts: 20
    @Afraser Good point! I might try this. I’m not a fan of being the centre of attention so this could work well. Thank you. 😊
  • sooziqusooziqu Member Posts: 32
    Such questions can be meant well but it's quite draining, isn't it? Even without the faux pas of saying it in front of your daughter.  I got sick of 'my story' and the re-telling of it so referred all questions or discussions to my partner.  He knew everything so I got him to answer questions and I just drifted away.   :D   Even now that I'm out the other side I still feel the same.  I don't want to be the centre of attention, I don't want to talk about my personal health issues and I don't even really want to discuss cancer just because you heard I'd had it.  If I don't have my partner for backup I usually just say I really don't like talking about it and quickly change the subject to something upbeat and fun.  Really......we live with cancer, the threat of cancer returning, etc, we don't necessarily want it to be the focus of conversation as well.  And I thoroughly support was @Zoffiel suggested to say!!!
  • Cath62Cath62 Brisbane Member Posts: 159
    Hi @Brownowl,

    I had some shocking things said to me. I also had family not respecting my wishes for privacy and telling people about my cancer when I specifically asked them not too. With family I had to speak up, tell them how they hurt and betrayed me by not following my express wishes. We have worked through that now and it's ok. With some friends who said stupid things, some I had to say I needed space so I miminises my contact so I didn't hear the stupid comments. I did have a couple of people who I let drop off my friend circle. Other friends have been fabulous. The thing is this is your story, your life and you have the right to run your story the way you want to and what's best for you. Sone people will stay on the ride and others will drop off and you will meet new people through all this too. All said and done no one really knows how all this is and speaking up for yourself and letting people know what's ok and not ok is important especially if the people are to stay in your life. Best wishes x
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