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Hi everyone,
Firstly some background. I am a married 26 y/o, I work full time and live about 6 hours away by plane from my divorced parents. My father is 72 and recently received a stage 3 lung cancer diagnosis. This is all very new but family members are already insinuating that I should move back home soon to care for my father or else urge him to move into his sister's home. He has always been independent and was actually working up until right before he got sick. He doesn't want to move into his sister's house because it is very messy and tends to have many people going in and out (her adult son lives with her and family is over often). They seem to think that in the near future my father will not be able to care for himself or perform everyday tasks on his own. I've not heard anything from his doctors regarding concern over his living situation other than his needing some extra help, perhaps, after surgeries. Is there something I'm missing?


It's not too much of a burden financially for me to take a few months or so off if necessary to care for him in his own home. My husband is supportive and is from the same home state so would not mind visiting, but we are not interested in moving back home permanently and cannot foresee ourselves doing so in the near future. My father would not be open to moving and I wouldn't want to take him away from all of his friends and family. He does not want a live-in caretaker or to eventually transition into any type of assisted/monitored living facility.


I just really don't understand what it is that I'm missing because the reaction I've been getting when I say that we are planning on making more trips back home is that I'm being a terrible child. My father still drives, has an active social life and we FaceTime multiple times a week. He doesn't want me to "uproot my life" for him and does not see the need for it at this point but also pays little mind to the future. Again I'm willing to go back home temporarily and if needed to I could even leave my job, but I just would like to know about the timing of it all. My husband travels frequently for work and we have pets. I want to be helpful and supportive but I'm not sure how or when. I guess I'm really just looking for some insight. If you or a loved one were also dealing with this type of diagnosis at what point was it (during treatment I suppose? post-pneumonectomy/lobectomy, chemo, etc?) that you found yourself or relative needing help to the point where it would be detrimental to live by oneself? I'm sorry if this is a dumb or confusing question.


Thank you for your time.

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The people who are laying guilt trips on you are picturing you turning your back while he dies, which is just a lot of a lot of hyperbole. . It's understandable that your father wants to retain his independence and present lifestyle but realistically that may not be possible.
I think you need to wait until you see how your father is coping with his cancer and treatments before you make any decisions, but it might be wise to explore what kind of help is available for him and how you might go about accessing it if/when needed... hope for the best and plan for the worst.
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Reply to cwillie
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1st answer is that your father could live a good many years. Second is that you need to let go of caring so much about the opinions of others. It is exceptionally rude of people to put their judgement on what you should do with your life and your decision; clearly they have not enough on their own plates to understand how difficult these decisions can be. I would not over discuss it with others, to tell the truth. Use them as a sounding board and they will be only too happy to tell you what to do, it sounds like. If you need help making decisions here I would seek professional help of licensed social worker specialized in helping people in the midst of life change problems. And it IS confusing. You cannot honestly decide today what will happen with treatment, even what will happen with NO treatment. These things move faster or slower according to each individual case. It seems no one has asked you to move home at this moment, so stay supportive, try to think and plan ahead, but know that moving now would mean you could be stuck there for years. Take it more of a day at a time. Visit now and help your Dad make decisions re wills, POA if needed, finances and so on. Get clear with him his wishes regarding treatment, POA for health care, and palliative re aggressive treatment. That is the start for now, you will be able to assess him at that time. Tell him that you will be as much support as you are able and that the family will take this a day at a time. Wishing you all good luck. The answers just are not all there today. And really, let go of "what other people thing". It isn't their problem. Reassure them that you appreciate their thoughts and you will be doing this the best way you can. That is, unless you are ready for Sainthood. If that's the case leave them to it, and they will be happy to shoot you full of arrows.
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Reply to AlvaDeer
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Stop allowing relatives to blackmail you emotionally and lay guilt trips on you. If your father wants your help, he will ask for it. If he doesn't, he won't.

You can *offer* to help him from right where you are by helping him get his important paperwork together e.g. will, living will, DNR, POA both medical and financial. You can *offer* to help him manage his finances and plan for his longterm care. You cannot force him to accept help from you or anyone else for that matter.

Jumping on him about "living alone" when he has yet to process and accept his diagnosis is not helpful. The next time those relatives try to insinuate themselves into your father's affairs through you firmly say "Thanks for your concern. My father and I handling things one day at a time." And if they persist, tack on a "...I would appreciate you respecting his privacy during this difficult time. If he needs your help he will let you know."
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Reply to NYDaughterInLaw
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I just love it when The Concerned Family Members start handing out Free Advice and Passing Judgment on a situation they have NO intention of helping with. The Armchair Critics, I call them, and they're in every family, unfortunately. I have a cousin who lives 3500 miles away who loves to tell me how I'm going to miss my mother when she's gone. Gee really? As if I'm saying or doing something to suggest I'm trying to speed up her demise? She also insists my 92 yo mother with dementia is Spot On with everything she says on the phone, and has no business living in Memory Care. Meanwhile, 99% of the time she can't even figure out how to ANSWER the phone, never mind dial a number. Sigh. My point? It's nobody's business what we do or don't do for our parents. I don't think you're "missing something" with regard to your dad and his dx of lung cancer. Like others have said, people can live for a very long time these days with cancer diagnoses, without family members freaking out, moving them in, buying cemetery plots etc. My ex husband has a dx of stage 4 colon cancer which metastasized to liver and lung, and after a year of chemo, all his PET scans are CLEAN. He lives alone in the mountains with a generator and 2 dogs for company.
Ask the judgment committee what THEY plan to do for your father and that should shut them up for quite some time. Then ask you dad what he needs from you, and let him know what you've told us about being available for him. Then let all the rest of the B S go and continue living your life. I read a meme the other day that said: Don't accept criticism from someone you'd never go to for advice. Touche.
All the best!
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Reply to lealonnie1
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You make the call when and IF it makes sense to you. Ignore "those people". You said your Dad is living his life and does not want you to uproot yours. I doubt he would appreciate knowing that people are trying to emotionally manipulate you to do otherwise. If someone did that to my kids that would really tick me off.
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Reply to Tryingmybest
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I’m so sorry for your Dad’s diagnoses. But, nowadays, people with cancer can live a long time and there’s even a possibility of being cured. Has anyone asked Dad what HE wants? I’m sure he’s given much thought to his future since his diagnoses. Stop worrying about what people say and about what they will think, even if they’re family members. Ask your dad how and when he wants you to be there for him. But, do start now to get things in order. Make sure you get Power if Attorney. Open a joint checking account or have yourself added to the one he already has. Find out where he keeps all his important papers. Talk over his financial situation and what bills he pays, etc. This is a good idea even if Dad didn’t have a serious illness. I was beyond grateful to my mom for her wonderful record keeping.
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Reply to Ahmijoy
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Anon, you stated that his diagnosis was recent, so family members are probably still processing and grieving this news, horrible-izing it in their minds, etc. Your dad could live a long time with cancer. I would not "blow your wad" of time, energy and resources until he really needs it, which will be later in the sickness. It's one day at a time from now on. Is there a close relative who lives in proximity to him? This person is in the best position to help and get information and help requests out to other family.

Your dad needs to process it himself and I understand people go through a grieving process as they cope with it. So for now just contact him often and don't always talk about his health as he then feels this is the only thing that defines him (we went through this with a very dear, close friend).

Your dad says he doesn't want a live-in caretaker or to eventually transition into any type of assisted/monitored living facility. I think he has pre-conceived notions and imagined fears of "old style" facilities. You're not obligated to go along with an unrealistic, highly disruptive plan just because he can't deal with reality. I was part of a group of people who took care of a woman in her home dying of colon cancer. None of us were nurses. Towards the end it was round the clock and dealing with lots of pain and body fluids that had no where to go. It would have made better sense for her to have been in a facility having hospice. And your dad will probably need a hospital bed in his house, oxygen and more. It would be better to have hime where he is getting optimal care and then family can make a plan to be there with him for as much as they can (THEY).

As a mother of 3 twenty-somethings, I wouldn't ever want them to uproot their lives for me, even if I was that sick. I've had my life and take responsibility for how I made plans for and managed it. You say your dad pays little attention to the future, well maybe now he will...or still won't. But that's not your problem. You love your dad and want to show your love. For now you can be a valuable help to him, yourself and the entire family by gently nudging him to get his affairs in order (explaining about a Durable PoA if he doesn't already have one, a will, medical directive, etc.) when he seems receptive. Maybe you can visit to help him do this. Keep telling him you'll do as much as possible for him (remotely). Don't let his family harangue you into care taking. Well-meaning people have no idea what is involved in caregiving a sick and dying senior. When he's in stage 4 you will have more knowledge and can plan when is the optimal time to be present with him. Until then, wishing you a sweet time with your dad.
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Reply to Geaton777
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I was a 34 y/o when i moved home to take care of mom with stage 4 lung cancer. Best choice I ever made (for me and her). Still was met with critique on many levels from large extended family. So be prepared for that no matter what you choose and stay strong. First, I would recommend finding out more about your dad's prognosis by attending an appt. with his oncologist if he would agree to that. You will have more info to base your decisions on. It sounds like he has a treatment schedule, but it would be helpful if you knew more. Have questions written down in advance that you can ask the Dr. It's easy to forget or get distracted/emotional when in the office or with other family members asking questions too. You really need to know how he will be affected by the disease and the treatment. Don't go by hearsay. And, of course, keep in mind the professionals have more experience but can get it wrong too. Think about staying flexible in your decisions. Stuff happens that you can't plan for.
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Reply to wakankasha
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Who are these folks with the toxic opinions?

Id wait until your dads needs become clearer, until YOU have a chance to discuss the care plan (vis phone, if necessary) with dad and his medical team.

Your dad is in charge of his own care and his own life. Ignore those folks who are living in the 19th century. Wait until dad asks for help and then evaluate the situation rationally.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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Sounds to me like your dad may not be as near the end of his life as some would have you think and that treatment lies ahead which may prolong his life, hopefully. He wants to be independent and is at this time rejecting outside help; he even wants YOU to remain independent and continue on with your life where you are.
What a blessing that things are so good for you, with a job you could afford to lose and a supportive hubby. So many do not have that!
One thing we all want to have is control. So listen to your dad, unless you think he is just saying things to protect you and your life, and keep on as you have been. You sound close enough that if he tries to cover, you will probably detect it. Come in on your own so the pets don't have to be put some place (unless you have an at-home pet sitter!) when /if he needs some extra support, like at a surgery time. I would make VERY SURE that he contact an elder law attorney and get all the papers in order ensuring that YOU have access to all the medical info you need and the medical people can share info with you. Make sure you are on his records, you will have to do this and confirm. Hoping for the best for all of you...
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