To tell or not to tell, to know or no... - The Roy Castle Lu...

The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation

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To tell or not to tell, to know or not to know????


My 92 yr old dad has just been diagnosed with lung cancer that has spread to breast, lymph gland, liver and bones. Initially i agreed with mother sister n my daughter that he doesn't need to know n we need to make special memories - this was before he deteriorated. He hasn't the energy to pull himself up n nurse takes him toilet in a chair. This evening he asked straight out "had we told him everything" I think we should have told him as they r already arranging Morphine injections. I feel ashamed watching my mother n sister blatantly lie. Everyone knows but him!! Can anyone relate to this dilemma n what did U do??? Thanks. Jeannie

3 Replies

Jeannie, so sorry to hear your sad news about your dad. This must be a very difficult situation you are all in. My dad was diagnosed with lung cancer in Aug 13, we had a discussion to ask the doctor how long had we got together. When we got into the appointment my dad changed his mind and didn't want to know. At times as a family we found it really difficult to know what to say or do. So we had a chat and decided that we would be really honest with each other all the way through my dads journey. My dad on the other hand knew deep down that he was poorly but he never complained about being ill and he would never discuss what his wishes were when the time came. My dad always told us he would live till 90 but deep down he knew he wouldn't make it. At times I really wanted my dad to open up and talk to us but this was his way of handling the cancer. My advice to you would be to talk to your mum and sister and tell them how you feel. You will need to be strong for each other so try and work through it as a family. As my mum said to my sister, brother and myself if we don't work together we won't get through it. If we let one of us fall then we will all fall but if we hold onto each other we will be strong enough and get through it. You know she is right because the journey is a rough one but I have my family to hold onto. My thoughts are with you and your family. xxxxxxxxx

Jeannie in reply to trot

Thank you. As a family we r struggling n impatient with each other. I get cross to hear my mum blatantly lie n over do it n talking about him when he can hear. Doc came this morning whilst my daughter n I were there n Doc told him the truth. My Dad said he not too bothered as knows will die soon anyway. I noticed a tear fall as he was eating his soup. But then my mother turned up rushing n rushing to get him home. What makes me sad is my MuM has always been dishonest to my dad and seems to put herself first like- she couldn't sit n chat whilst the hospital put together everything he needs because she's bored. It's hard to know what to say as it's such a shock or worse nightmare. I just hope the pain relief is adequate !!!!! We have no idea how longs he got or how this terrible disease will affect him.



Sorry to hear about the situation you find yourself in. It must be a really emotional and distressing time. Families facing illness or death can find it testing. People have different ways of coping and sometimes the bits of our personalities that rub each up other the wrong way come into focus. Perhaps it is also easier to get distracted by anger or other things we have to do than to think how upset we are by illness.

Think about what is important for your dad just now and try and be as supportive towards him as you can. Make him the centre of your family time.

If you can talk to your dad and make sure he knows that you are there and happy to listen to him that might be good for both of you. If you have any questions (about pain or what will happen) you should be able to chat these through with the Lung Cancer Nurse who is involved in looking after him.

If you need any information or just to talk to someone outside the family do call our helpline on 0333 323 7200 option 2.

Best wishes


on behalf of the Information & Support

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