Hi Liz, My sister is undergoing treatment for breast cancer. She has had both breasts removed and has almost completed chemotherapy, with radiation treatments to start soon. She is also an alcoholic who won't quit drinking. She tells me she wants to fight to live but I just don't see that happening. She could be doing so much more besides chemo and pills. The cancer has now spread to her liver, lungs, and kidneys. Do I leave her alone or do I try to intervene and try to sober her up and push her into a healthier lifestyle? She doesn't want me to come see her and it's hard to get her to call me. I'm so upset with her because I feel she is avoiding me. She's my sister and if just my love could save her, she would live forever. Chances are she will die and she doesn't understand that I would really like to create some memories together, even if it means I have to hold her hair back as she is vomiting. Do you have any insight for me? Raymond CA.
Hi and thanks for writing in. I am sorry for this situation. It is sad and difficult but I hope my insight helps.
I would start by reminding you that It’s close to impossible to imagine what your sister is really going through as she battles this hardship. As much as you can think you know, you don’t. From what I get here, you have let her know what and how she should go about fighting for her life and that you love her. That is totally understandable. My thought is this is not the time to impart your judgment on how she has chosen to battle her illness. It’s just not the time. The fact that she doesn’t want to see you or talk with you speaks volumes. As much as her battle affects your life and your hopes for making memories and helping to save her and keep her longer, it is her battle, and whatever she wants to do trumps you and your ideas.
I think you need to go to her, show up, and tell her, that you get that she doesn’t want to hear your view of how she might die or choose to live. Tell her that you now get that this is her battle, tell her how much you love her, and open yourself to hear just what it is she would like from you. If she already feels your judgment, you will have to beg for forgiveness so that you can be there for her now the way she needs you to be. Ask her what you can do. My feeling is that she needs to run her own sick show. Stretch yourself to support her in anyway that she wants. Some of it may go against the grain of who you are or what you would do if it were you, but it’s not you.
One of the hardest aspects of love is to remove your own agenda and give to the other person. Think of yourself as her angel through this. Everybody wants an angel around them. Close off your own ideas about 'right and wrong,' and 'good and bad,' and 'healthy and unhealthy,' and become who your sister needs at this moment in her life. Angles don’t push and shove and force. They nurture, understand and give. That's the best you can do for her and, I guarantee, it’s the best you can do for yourself.
Peace and ease for both of you!