Ask Dr. Giles: I worry that I may be pushing my grandmother too far

Courtney asks:

My grandmother has cc! I was raised by my grandparents, I just recently lost my mother of a heart attack she was 44. My grandmother is such a strong woman and has had surgery, right liver resection portion of left all that goes with that. She did complete i round of radation and chemo(pill). She has had so many complications since the surgery. She had gastric bypass 2 yrs prior to CC finding which had complicated thing, The doctors told us that they removed all the tumor. She has been retaining fluid which thank the Lord has came back negative for any cancer cells. I see her struggling to fight. I keep encouraging her, but I know that I am pushing and for my own selfish reasons as well. I am a very religious person and I pray for the Lord to help me back off. But I want to keep positive but not over bearing, Do you have any suggestions on where I should draw a line. I love her and I want her to continue to fight. But I see her struggle I am scared. She told me she doesn’t want to do anymore chemo and I just ignored her, pretended as if she didn’t even say it….Any advice for me would be very appreciated. And thank you for being their for all of these patients, loved ones and friends. I pray the Lord blesses you for your service.

Thanks Courtney


Thank you for your kind words and prayers. I can tell you have great strength and determination regarding your grandmother’s fight against cancer. She is fortunate to have such a granddaughter! You are encountering a common dilemma that loved ones face: how do I support and help without being overbearing or making the cancer patient feel pressured or guilty? I believe it is a difficult balancing act, but it is easier to strike that balance if you follow these key points:

  • Remember that only the cancer patient can fight the cancer. It is a real and physical contest. Much like a game of football, our loved one with cancer is the player and they are the only one allowed “on the field.” We, as their friends and family, are like the spectators or fans. We must remain “in the stands.” We can cheer and shout encouragement. We can even get them a cold drink of water, but they–and they alone–must engage the opponent.
  • Love is the best thing you have to offer someone who is fighting cancer. A kind word or an affectionate gesture will always be a welcome boost to your loved one.
  • The opposite of love is fear. Beware of fear in your own thoughts and feelings. Focus on love and there will be little room for fear.
  • Peaceful acceptance of your own powerlessness in your grandmother’s fight against cancer will free you from fear and allow you to focus on love in thought and action.

Your grandmother needs to know you love her. Show her and tell her of your love. It will help reduce your fear–and may reduce hers as well!