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Woman feels 'punished' for having cancer as a kid; parents deny accusation. AITA? UPDATED

Woman feels 'punished' for having cancer as a kid; parents deny accusation. AITA? UPDATED


When this daughter is fed up with her parents, she asks Reddit:

"AITA for telling my parents I am tired of being punished for having cancer as a kid and do not need to help them keep up a facade?"

When I (19f) was 3 I was diagnosed with cancer. Of course I don't remember this time or any of the first couple of years of treatment and my memory of medical stuff even after is a little fuzzy.

However, I am aware of the fact that my parents devoted a lot of time, money and attention to me when I was newly diagnosed and when treatments started. For the first 3 or so years actually.

It made my siblings very jealous and it sounds like my parents emotionally abandoned them and made them feel selfish for having wants and needs while I was sick.

I don't remember any of it but I have been told enough about those times. That jealousy turned into resentment and it fractured the relationship between us. They didn't see why being sick meant they had to lose their parents and I totally get that.

At some point my parents also started to resent me for taking up so much time. The switch being flipped with my parents seems to line up to a time where I was really sick from all the treatments and being dragged around the country to our local hospital and a children's hospital.

My mom mentioned a few years ago that I was "ungrateful" for all they had done and had told them I didn't want the medicine anymore.

This is not a memory I have but I do remember feeling so tired as a really young kid. By the time I got better I was tiny, had trouble with food and had not lived a very normal kid life. My life had been medical procedures and chemo and other medications. But the cancer went and it hasn't come back (so far).

My parents were very temperamental with me. They would get angry/frustrated if I needed help with homework or had a problem at school. I couldn't say anything about needing their help without it being very clear they were mad.

My siblings remained very distant. My parents would try making it up to them sometimes and other times they got similar treatment to me, just maybe a little less harsh than my parents were with me. Though they may have been way more harsh with them while I was sick.

It was toxic and every time I tried to reach out to my siblings and say how sorry I was for what had happened, they made their stance clear and I knew they didn't want me in their lives. They all moved out over a number of years and I don't have any contact with them now. I tried again after I moved out and was ignored.

I went no contact with my parents over a year ago and moved out. It's been great but they reached out to me on social media a few weeks ago and told me dad's 60 soon and I need to be there.

I ignored the first message so they sent it again and they told me that was an order and I needed to do this for them, that I needed to make it up to them. I replied back that I was tired of being punished for having cancer and would not help them keep up a facade.

They called me ungrateful and spiteful and selfish and that I had no idea how much they had sacrificed for me. I blocked them. But their words have made me question myself. AITA?

Let's see what readers thought.

trademarksja writes:

NTA. No child chooses to get cancer, it just happens. Your parents are human so of course it was hard but that’s no excuse to punish you for the rest of your life by treating you poorly.

Your life sounds like it’s been hard from the start, do whatever you need to do to be happy and don’t spend any energy on people who would treat you so poorly over something you had zero control over.

thevaneja writes:

NTA I'm so sorry you've gone through all that. I would do exactly what you've done. Maybe you being sick destroyed your family, but that isn't your fault it's cancers fault. And your parents for handling it so poorly.

I can somewhat imagine what they went through I've seen cancer take my best friend and so many others. But the way they handled it was wrong, and NOT your fault or responsibility.

capsfan1066 writes:

NTA. I am so very sorry that you and your siblings were treated the way you were. I am in the position your parents are in where I have supported a family member who has a chronic life-threatening condition.

I raised this family member from the age of 3 into adulthood with a healthy sibling. While it is extremely hard at times, its the parent's responsibility to raise all of their kids. Yes there are frustrations but what your parents are doing is placing blame and playing the victim like you had any control.

There are things that we had to do that affected my healthy child but always tried to make it up and do things that they deemed important, although it may have been delayed. I would drop everything without complaint and support the family member all over again.

With the above said, my family member is now an adult. My wife and I have spent the last few years decompressing and trying to find a new normal since healthcare decisions are no longer our responsibility.

It took a very heavy toll. But you know what, this is what parents are supposed to do for the betterment of their kids, not hold it over their heads. You did nothing wrong and hopefully some day your siblings will come around to some extent.

Do not feel bad or give more energy to things that drain you. You still have to spend energy being vigilant about any chance of the cancer returning. Spend time doing things that bring you joy and fulfillment. You never know when the time comes when you don't have a choice. Find your own family and continue being healthy.

thinkingtooloud0 writes:

This resonates with me. A child with cancer can place an incredible strain on a family. The thing to remember here is that everyone was suffering -- health problems, neglect issues, stress, grief, anxiety and depression.

I suspect you have an idea, perhaps a pretty good idea, of what they (I'm going to use their word here) sacrificed. But here's the kicker... they were the parents. You were the child.

The point I'm trying to get to is this... it sounds like everyone in the family needs to do their own healing. You don't owe anyone to return to a toxic environment.

So, in the end, make the decision that you can live with. You can mark your father's 60th (if you choose to) by a great many ways other than going to see your parents. NTA.

OP then offers this updates:

I feel like I'm lucky in a sense that I don't have many memories of that time and all that happened. But at the same time it's something I am aware of and the aftermath has been pretty awful too. I wish they had made different choices but I know they were dealing with a lot back then too.

At this point in my life I am focused on figuring out my future and trying to keep a roof over my head. I spent a few months homeless after I moved out and I don't regret it but it is definitely challenging. My siblings haven't spoken to me in years and my parents can't speak to me without the anger and clear resentment.

But from what my mom has said. I think they saw it as a waste when I told them I didn't want the medicine anymore. That's something my mom mentioned specifically to me and it gave me the vibe of "oh you wanted to give up after everything how dare you, you should have fought for us forever".

I don't even remember saying it. I do remember feeling it. But my mom remembered it well enough to quote to me. To me it feels like that was the moment they changed how they felt and resented the fact I wanted to stop.

Looks like OP is NTA here. Any advice for her?

Sources: Reddit
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