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in process of losing my sis

(41 Posts)
Charly Mon 01-Oct-18 16:45:06

I haven't seen my older sister for a few years but I still have close and regular contact with her via online Scrabble and in particular, the Scrabble messaging system. We are neither of us particularly bothered to see each other in person as we have plenty to share about in writing and neither of us is very face-to-face oriented.

My current concern relates to the distinct likelihood that her breast cancer (triple negative, stage 3, treated up to about March last year) has come back in her bones. Her Scrabble moves have become much less frequent in the last ten days or so. I know she said she was due to see her cancer specialist last week some time, about a bone scan she'd had many weeks earlier. She sounded rather resigned to the long wait, as if there was little point hurrying treatment for secondaries if her pain did indeed emanate from them. Her arm pain started goodness knows how many months ago now, and she ignored it in the hope that it was something to do with her mastectomy (from the original tumour, in '16) and the stress it might have put on that side. She said she'd thought about having a second mastectomy anyway because she really didn't find it too pleasant having only the one breast.

We have had several exchanges on Twitter about politics, not in agreement at all, but we both knew we had differing views. However lately her tweets have also become less frequent.

I may be making the wrong assumptions but I wouldn't be at all surprised if any time I heard that she'd died. Having been in nursing, she might well have gained access to some powerful painkillers, and I wouldn't be surprised if she had used a big lot to get over the increasing pain, maybe with half an intention of ending it all. We had 'talked' quite a bit about our own deaths over the years, as well as our parents' and sister's and some others.

You may ask why I haven't asked her point blank where she is with all this. I just know her well enough, and know her general approach of late. Getting bossy and interventionist isn't the way to go now, I'm sure of it. I've told her I love her in spite of our considerable diffs and I've changed my tone on Twitter to one of finding common ground and RTing stuff she's tweeted which I can go along with. FB also.

She turned back to Buddhism (as well as her continued communism, although she naturally considers herself sort of 'centre left'!) since recovering from her first nine months of treatment, and I got sense she was really appreciating her new lease of life. She'd moved to another part of the country and was enjoying living by the sea.

It is still very hard to get my head around her likely very limited life now. She's 63. She might be in denial and just keep going on for as long as she can without any more treatment and maybe without any more acknowledgement of her illness. I wouldn't blame her either, I might be similar in that way.

She is married with a daughter in her thirties, and step-children and a number of grandchildren/stepgrabdchildren. Sadly her daughter distanced herself considerably from her about twenty months ago, and I still find that very hard to understand. But she did lose her mother-in-law to cancer just after my sister started her treatment, in summer '16, and she her partner had two small children, so everything might just felt like too much. Understandable, but painful for my poor sis. However, I think they have sort of partially made up since last summer.

Anyway, sorry to go on. I'm just very sad at the prospect of losing my sis, a lifelong, very dear friend.

Nonnie Mon 01-Oct-18 16:57:26

I hope writing that all down has helped.

When I heard how ill my sister was I got on the next plane to see her but I think our relationship was probably different. Would you find it hard to go and see her? Are you sure she has not made it up with her daughter? Could you ask her how her mother is? You've probably already thought of these things but sometimes the obvious misses us when we are too close.

Scribbles Mon 01-Oct-18 17:01:31

Poor you. I have known the pain of losing my sister and have nothing to offer but sympathetic ((( hugs.)))

Would it be possible for you to contact your niece to see if she does have any more definite information? I appreciate that could be difficult if her relationship with your sis is still strained. When my mother's cancer became much worse and she knew she hadn't got long to live, she forbade my Dad to tell my sister and me or any other close friends and relatives and she would say nothing herself. She lived in another country so we didn't get together often and had only the information she chose to give. She didn't want anyone to "fuss", she said. I wonder if your sis has made a similar choice?

Charly Mon 01-Oct-18 17:44:25

Thank you so much, Scribbles and Nonnie. I could try contacting my niece, yes. Also, she may not know just how much or little I know about her difficult relationship with her mum.

Scribbles, goodness, your mum....I must admit, my sister does have similar tendencies, but just how much is hard to gauge.

Luckygirl Mon 01-Oct-18 17:57:09

It is hard as only you know your sister and the nature of your relationship. Is it possible to talk with her openly about the situation, or do you not have that sort of relationship?

I would be very sad if my sister were so ill - I would find that hard - she has had breast cancer twice and is much much younger than I. I know how hard it is to do and say the right thing in these situations.

I do hope you can find some way to get closer to her and resolve this. I hope too that your fears are unfounded.

Day6 Mon 01-Oct-18 18:04:58

How sad this is Charly.

It is a difficult one, and of course hinges on the sort of relationship we have with our siblings. Yours sounds loving even though there is distance between you.

Do you think if you were more forthright, gently, she might open up a bit more and you'd know exactly how she is feeling? Sometimes people need an invitation to let it all out and a need to confide and voice their fears. You may well have done this, but it is just a thought.

I do feel for you both.

Charly Tue 02-Oct-18 00:10:22

I'm honestly very touched indeed by how attentively you've 'listened' to me and responded so sensitively.

Sincere gratitude to all of you. I contacted my niece's partner (a she) on FB messenger this evening. Nothing back yet, but I don't know how much she uses the app.

Still, my sis has made a Scrabble move this evening, with a good message. ?? Greatly appreciating any contact.

PamelaJ1 Tue 02-Oct-18 09:17:48

We have had some issues this year. One SiL dying of cancer, the other one on her way out with a dysfunctional family.
We haven’t always been been sure how to offer help.
I think we got it right with the first but she had a supportive family and communication was good.
The second is a nightmare, we have had long conversations on whether or not we should “do something” but have decided that she wouldn’t welcome our help and are not sure where to start. We’re also not sure what to do, she has refused help from all the health services so they can’t do anything and we live a long way away.
What is important is that I don’t think we will blame ourselves for not doing more and regret our actions. Ask yourself if you think you are or are not doing anything you may regret.

Grammaretto Tue 02-Oct-18 10:09:37

I would go and see her, whatever the finer sensitivities. After all, you would go to her funeral and what better to see her in person first and you would be a support for your niece.

When my mum was dying, my sis phoned me to tell me she was in hospital but not to rush down (she lived 500 miles away) but I thought I would as she was old, and sick. I only saw her for one day before she passed away but I was so glad I went. My brother always regrets not going.

inishowen Tue 02-Oct-18 10:25:05

I agree with you Grammaretto. Better to go and see her than regret it later.

GabriellaG Tue 02-Oct-18 10:32:49

Having been in nursing, she might well have had access to some powerful painkillers
I too was in nursing but that certainly doesn't mean you have legal access to medication for your own needs.
Personally, I think you rely on your sister more than she she relies on a continuing 'friendship' with you.
It's enough for you to say that you each have differing opinions without enumerating her views.
You're very critical of her, IMO, of course.

Greyduster Tue 02-Oct-18 10:34:13

Please see her if you can. None of us knew my sister was suffering with breast cancer. She hated doctors and hospitals so, unbelievably, she kept it to herself. I didn’t see her often and I knew from when I had last seen her that she seemed ill, but she refused to talk to me about it. At the time, I was preoccupied with coming to terms with the fact that my DiL had also just been diagnosed with BC and my son was struggling emotionally. It was my sister’s DiL who finally phoned me and asked me to come and see her as she was so worried but didn’t want to go over her head and call the doctor. I did call him but by the time she came to his attention there was nothing they could do. I was glad I got the chance to spend her last days with her.

GabriellaG Tue 02-Oct-18 10:35:41

...and we didn't need to have it pointed out that her partner is a 'she'.
That truly is a low comment.

madmum38 Tue 02-Oct-18 10:41:25

I would go and see her as well. My brother got taken into hospital in 02, he had a swelling to one side of his face that was very painful but was no talk of death,this was during the Christmas/New Year period and was told he would have an exploratory op a few days later.
New Years Eve I got a call from the hospital to say he had passed away. Was so glad that I had been able to see him that one last time

knspol Tue 02-Oct-18 11:07:51

Simple - go and see her! If she is as ill as you suspect you may miss the opportunity if you delay. Whatever the circumstances or nuances of your relationship this might be your last chance and something that you may always regret.

Charly Tue 02-Oct-18 11:46:20

GabriellaG, you say no need to provide TMI, but there was absolutely no need for you to provide your criticism either.

Grammaretto Tue 02-Oct-18 12:09:01

Another reason for going to see her is that you are the representative of your parents and they would surely be there for her if they were alive.

Charly Tue 02-Oct-18 12:24:41

Many thanks for very helpful contribs, Grammaretto, knspol, inishowen, and PamelaJ1, greyduster and madmum38. I'm starting to consider a trip to see my sis, & have just raised it with her.

mumofmadboys Tue 02-Oct-18 12:26:37

Gabriella only post if you want to try and be helpful! I can't believe your comments!

Charly Tue 02-Oct-18 12:26:59

PamelaJ1, yes, I so understand. ?

mumofmadboys Tue 02-Oct-18 12:28:44

Hope you get to see your sister Charly and hope it is a special time even if it is painful. Hugs.

grandtanteJE65 Tue 02-Oct-18 13:29:49

Charly, I know exactly how you feel. It is now a little over two years since my sister died of cancer and it is shockingly difficult knowing what is the right thing to do during this stage of her and your life.

I hope you get a positive response from your niece.

SueDonim Tue 02-Oct-18 13:35:10

I hope your fears are unfounded, Charly, but do go to see your sister anyway. I don't think that could ever be a wrong thing to do. flowers

HannahLoisLuke Tue 02-Oct-18 14:27:21

Gabriella, have I read a completely different post? Charly came across as a loving supporting sister while not always agreeing with her sisters views, she still loves her and is concerned.
Also where does it say that her sister's partner is a woman? I didn't read that either, not that it matters.
I find your post very judgemental.

Yorkshiregirl Tue 02-Oct-18 14:55:07

I was diagnosed with grade 3 aggressive breast cancer in July 2017, and I'm still undergoing preventative treatment, although I've been cancer free since second surgery last September.

I lost my only sister to cancer 3 years ago, and miss her so much, but the family travelled to see her immediately when she was diagnosed. Surely you would wush to see her, and give her an hug.