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Thread: Considering Breaking ties with Family Member - Insensitive message

  1. #1
    Senior Member Cypress's Avatar
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    Considering Breaking ties with Family Member - Insensitive message

    I am not sure what to do about this situation. I sent my brother this message about one week ago. To understand, three women in my family have died from cancer, I have a fear that this might be my fate as it starts with a simple test and can escalate. What I am trying not to overreact at is the reply from my brother. I included the actual language as is so as to completely illustrate my concern. The test is scheduled for this Wednesday.

    Patty is my cousin, her mother died from complications of breast cancer. Phil is an elder brother who lives out of the area. My initial reaction is to call him and cut the ties. This comment is as insensitive as I can begin to consider. Am I overreacting or is he way out of line here?


    My first message………………
    Just to keep you up to date with no surprises, I had a mammogram one
    month ago and my doctor had me go get a second one yesterday. I had a
    rotten afternoon at ___ waiting 3 hours for a 10 minute
    test. One radiologist and technician for 20 women. We all thought this
    was stupid, slick fancy hospital that won't staff. Anyway, I have to
    go for a third test, a fine needle biopsy in July to check out what
    may be cysts which are harmless or otherwise. I spoke with Janice
    yesterday as I couldn't really understand what they were telling me. I
    was annoyed at being kept waiting for too long and the radiologist
    spoke in medical language. All I heard was cyst, three, cannot quite
    see with the ultrasound, test with needles. I trust my family doctor
    and she recommended ___ for follow up. I hope it is
    nothing more than cysts, lots of women get them at my age. I haven't
    gotten nervous until this afternoon. I feel just fine except I feel 50
    years old some days. Keep positive thoughts.


    Reply from brother…………….
    Any better news on your tests?


    Patty might throw a small family reunion when Phil is here. We need it since the next time everyone will be together is at a funeral.


    Still no offers. I had 4 couples at my open house today. Not bad.


    Yer brother.
    Here is a link to my blog page http://francesannwy.wordpress.com/

  2. #2
    Low Tech grunt iris lily's Avatar
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    His message seems reasonable to me. He inquired first about your medical test.

  3. #3
    Senior Member jennipurrr's Avatar
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    It could be more thoughtful, but like Iris said, he did inquire about how the tests are going. Sounds like he may just want to gloss over that issue for now and hope for the best. The message sounds like he cares about you and wants to include you in the family reunion...but he probably isn't going to be your rock through this time and a great support when you need to vent your frustration...do you have other people in your life who can fill that role?

  4. #4
    Senior Member Miss Cellane's Avatar
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    What's your brother's usual communication style? Is this similar or much more curt and shorter?

    My brothers would respond in pretty much this manner. They simply don't like to discuss major, serious issues unless they have to. It doesn't mean that they don't care--it means that they don't know how to talk about feelings and emotions.

    So if I got a response like that, I'd think, "How typical of Neddy. He must be really concerned about me because he asked about the tests." But this is your brother and you know him a lot better than we do. If this is not his usual style, is there something major going on in his life that is sidetracking your issues? But unless there is a history of your brother being dismissive and uncaring, I wouldn't cut him out on the basis of one email.

    Honestly, as a woman reading your email, my interpretation was that you wanted some reassurance from your brother about your situation. But I suspect that as a guy reading your email, your brother saw that you had two tests and another one was scheduled, but no one seems seriously worried yet and there's a good chance there'll be a positive outcome. So he may not see the need for lots of concern or reassurance just yet, not until there's definite bad news.

    Which I hope there isn't, and that the next test shows nothing but a minor cyst.
    Last edited by Miss Cellane; 6-27-11 at 7:07am.

  5. #5
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    Cypress, cutting off a family member because he didn't respond in the way you had hoped leaves you no option for ever having him respond as you want him to. What's your deepest wish here? What do you really, really want him to say?

    With three women having died from cancer, and you going through tests, I can imagine that you must be scared and feeling alone. Do you wish for your brother to reach out to you and say he's concerned, he loves you? What is it that you most deeply hope for from him?

    He is probably scared by your tests too. He may be thinking about losing his sister. He may not have any idea what you want or need, and is keeping it simple until he knows. And he won't know unless you tell him what you need. You may not want to have to tell him how to respond to you, you may believe he should 'know'. No one knows what we need to hear in a difficult time unless we tell them.

    Cutting him off - how does that help your relationship with him?

  6. #6
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    I agree with the others. He did ask about the tests, his tone is friendly and conversational (even taking the insensitive comment into account). Guys really aren't very good at expressing empathy and sympathy. My guess is that he'd be honestly shocked at how upset his comment made you.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Cypress's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies. I feel I am among friends when I post such a critical topic. I have spoken with several women friends and they reassure me the outcomes are varied. This is is typical style of reply, curt and brusk.

    The jolt for me was the line about a funeral to attend. Is he talking about me or someone else? My mother is aged with many concerns, but her attitude is good with plans for the next five years.

    Yes, I would appreciate a call and someone to hold my hand thru this situation. Its' scary and I am not alone. I am emotional this morning and have learned to pause and check in with rational people before I overreact.
    Here is a link to my blog page http://francesannwy.wordpress.com/

  8. #8
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    Cypress, this is a difficult issue for you but i agree with the others about simply recognizing that often people (mostly males) don't want to get into medical details.

    FWIW, it seems that the only time that we get together as an extended family is for funerals. Most of the weddings have taken place so when we had our last family reunion, the comment made more than once, the next get-together will likely be for a funeral. It is said sort of flippantly but has elements of truth.

    Let it go and look for support and understanding elsewhere.
    "How will you serve the world? What do they need that you can provide? The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is." (Jim Carrey)

  9. #9
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    He is a brother, not a sister. My brother had a simple message on facebook "found out about Mom's first husband." What the h**l? She was married to my father for over 60 years and he was her only husband, I thought. Nothing else. He never thought to let any of the other kids know or what this was all about.

    (Turns out my dad was her third husband and I have a 74 year old step sibling.)

    Many men do not focus on the emotional aspect of such things. His message back was just what I would have expected.

  10. #10
    poetry_writer
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    Some people dont realize how fearful such a thing can be for a woman. I wouldnt cut off family ties because of one response that could have been expressed a little better. I pray your tests turn out well with good news!

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