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Sister Has Lymphoma; Thinks My Diagnoses Are Excuses

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My Sister has Stage 4 Lymphoma and throughout everything I have only been able to help her once. During the time that my vehicle was working I drove her around to help her with errands (depositing money from her benefit), taking her to pay bills, etc. She filled up my tank in exchange, but a month later my car’s transmission failed. She texted me recently and said “You need to step up”, I’m currently without a car, I have no sleeping schedule (it varies as my SO works nights), and I am experiencing signs of Agoraphobia. It is so intense that sometimes I pace between my front and back door trying to feel safe enough to go outside for a Cigarette. I don’t understand how to heal myself let alone be something better for my Sister. And It truly is heartbreaking. All my life my parents told me “You just gotta get over it”, but after 25 years of “getting over it” (just pushing it down inside), I was starting to be successful and find a job that I really enjoyed (because I was helping people) as a Pharmacy Technician. I worked at Humana as a Call center Tech., and I started hearing Voices. I knew they weren’t there, because I’d say “huh?” and my co-workers would tell me they didn’t say anything. It got to the point where I actually admitted to my boss that I have anxiety and it really affects me to the point where I panic to even go to work. I have quit so many jobs due to this.. and I have never lasted more than a year at any of them. My sister (the one with cancer) told me years ago that I needed professional help, and the minute I seek out for it, she tells me I am full of crap. I am basically wanting to know if any of this is justified, and I’m unsure of how to react of feel.. I am hurt, in a way I have already mourned her, and it’s hard for me to empathize with her when she’s treating me like this.. What do i do?

Sister Has Lymphoma; Thinks My Diagnoses Are Excuses

Answered by on -


There are two main issues present. The first is your family. They are insensitive to the fact that you are suffering. The second issue involves your own mental health. It seems that you have been dealing with anxiety issues for over 25 years and from what it seems, have yet to seek professional help.

Regarding your sister, it seems as though you’ve done what you can to help her. Apparently, she needs more help than she is receiving. It would be best if she had outside assistance from social services. Perhaps you can make that suggestion.

You can try once again to explain to her that you are doing all you can but it’s unlikely that she’ll understand. In that case, you might have to accept the fact that she’s going to be upset with you despite your having done nothing wrong. It’s difficult to tolerate these types of situations but it’s unlikely she’ll change. As unpleasant as it is, you have to learn to endure it. It may be best to limit the time you spend with your family.

I would recommend consulting a therapist. Anxiety disorders are very common. They are also highly treatable. Both medication and psychotherapy are effective treatments for anxiety. Having lived with a treatable disorder for 25 years suggests that you have simply accepted anxiety as a fact of life. It shouldn’t be this way, especially when good, effective, evidence-based treatments are available. Even if it’s difficult to do, make an effort to seek help. Mental health professionals can assist you in solving both of these issues. I hope you will try it. Good luck and please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Sister Has Lymphoma; Thinks My Diagnoses Are Excuses

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2019). Sister Has Lymphoma; Thinks My Diagnoses Are Excuses. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 7 Apr 2019 (Originally: 8 Apr 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 7 Apr 2019
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