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Teen with terminally ill brother ignored on birthday, speaks up, gets called 'jealous.'

Teen with terminally ill brother ignored on birthday, speaks up, gets called 'jealous.'


We often think of grief as an experience that exclusively happens after someone passes away. But some of the hardest grief on earth is grieving a terminally diagnosed loved one who is still alive.

Trying to make the best of borrowed time with a sick family member is deeply loaded, and everyone is going to cope with it differently.

In a popular post on the AITA subreddit, a young woman asked if she's wrong for being 'jealous' of her brother with cancer.

She wrote:

AITA for being “jealous” of my brother with cancer?

I (F18) have a brother (M26) who has terminal cancer.

Ever since he got sick, my family has given me less attention which is understandable. But now it feels like it’s to the point where they don’t care about me as much anymore. We have a family groupchat, on my birthday everybody asked how he was doing instead of wishing me a happy birthday. My parents watch movies with him and spend time with him and never invite me.

A few days ago I got frustrated by the fact that I am feeling so left out and ignored that I told my mom about it. I told her I was feeling like a “glass child”. She called me disgusting and couldn’t believe that I was “jealous” of my brother with cancer. So, AITA?


For clarification, I'm not jealous that my brother has cancer. To be honest I’m not jealous at all; I simply used that word because it’s the word my mom used to describe me.

I spend time with my brother. We recently went on an overseas trip just the two of us together. What I'm upset about is that my family doesn’t put much of an effort to check in on me or spend time with me. I understand that he has a limited time left and that they want to continue to spend time with him before he’s gone but still, don’t I deserve love too?

The internet swooped in with empathetic opinions.

Posterbomber wrote:

NTA - It's okay for you to hold two truths at once, you're very sad/scared that your brother has cancer, you're very sad that everyone forgot your milestone birthday and are excluding you from the family events. Usually, I'd not say anything bad about a mother dealing with her child having cancer but her reaction to you was the only 'disgusting' that I read here today.

unknown_928121 wrote:

You're NTA. My mother had cancer. It was treatable, and she's fine now, but I was her caretaker, and at the time i was 10 years older than you are now. I remember one day I just got so frustrated. I was so burnt out. Exhausted from managing everything working and going to school.

And every time someone called it was to check-in on her and one day I lost it and said can't a single person ask how I'm doing I just wanted to be seen for one minute for someone to say are you okay how are you handling it. I felt selfish for that thought then and still kind of do now even though it's long since passed

But I know it was because I was trying to hold it together knowing the person I loved was falling apart. And instead of feeling like a member of the family I felt like a rent-a-nurse outsider there for vitals and other people's emotional support. I don't think you're jealous. I just think you're struggling to navigate. You did the right thing by speaking up. I'm sorry they reacted the way they did.

turingtested wrote:

NAH. Just because he's dying doesn't mean you no longer need attention and care. But he's dying and definitely needs to be the family's focus, including one on one time. I'd try to focus on how you'll feel after he's gone. I suspect this will seem much less important then.

Phillyfitcap wrote:

NTA. I've been in this exact situation. I turned 16 and we didn't have a birthday party, we had a *my sister's name* is cancer free for 1-month party. It's rough. As a younger sibling to someone with cancer, you inevitably end up on the back burner. It's important to communicate how you feel.

Don't necessarily complain about what they're doing, because they are probably trying their best, but just communicate what YOU're going through. They aren't the only ones affected by your brother being sick, and if they don't try to keep you in their lives, they may end up losing 2 children...

NoConsideration4404 wrote:

NTA - as someone with cancer, I would feel so horrifically guilty if people didn't pay attention to my sister, especially on her birthday. I personally don't want any extra attention, I just want everyone to treat me normally. Otherwise, it feels like a constant reminder that I'm ill.

You are absolutely not TA for wanting people to wish you a happy birthday, or wanting to be included in movie nights. And I'm so sorry that this has happened to your family <3

OP is definitely NTA, the family is just in a really tough spot all around. Hopefully, her parents pay attention to her needs and realize they're not at odds with caring for their son.

Sources: Reddit
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