Worry For My Sister


I am new to this forum. Forgive me please if I ramble on but I just need some advice on how I can help my sister.

First of all I lost my husband of 40 years in June this year due to an almost 2 year fight against bowel cancer. Three months on while still trying to move forward from that I am hit with that my sister also has been diagnosed with bowel cancer although not as serious as my husband’s condition was. At the end up he was in and out of hospital with continuous bouts of sepsis and it was the 4th one and his advancing cancer that finally took him on the 23rd June this year.

At recent hospital appointments she has been told that the tumour she has is very small and it is a possibility that she will not need any pre or post chemo or radiotherapy, so fingers crossed for that. The thing is she is 71 years old and is very set in her ways. She also has mental health and learning difficulties. She lives in sheltered housing within walking distance from me. I managed to get her into this after my dad passed 11 years ago as he was her main carer and where she lived in a high rise block of flats she felt very vulnerable and insecure.

She has a friend she has known for 50 odd years. They both met when working together in a factory run by Remploy at the time I think it was. Her friend has similar disabilities to my sister. The thing is this other girl began keeping their company about 20 odd years ago while they were both still working and she seems to favour my sister’s friend over my sister and she has made it look like three's a crowd. My sister I know see’s this as a threat because this other girl has a way of manipulating my sister’s friend to do what she wants to do and it seems it’s always as she wants to do and my sister’s friend just follows on. Because of her illness, this girl can have a very aggressive nature and though my sister’s friend has witnessed it she still thinks she is Ok. She has even joined clubs my sister’s friend goes to swimming club and coffee mornings and even stops over at my sister’s friend’s house a couple of nights when my sister asked if she could come over she was told by her friend she can’t because she is not in any of the clubs and now they have joined the Enable club which I believe arrange holidays for the disabled and she has now told my sister they will be going on holiday together next year. My sister and her friend I know used to go great holidays years ago but once this girl came on the scene it was Blackpool because it’s where she wanted to go and my sister’s friend would agree even though my sister may not have but didn’t have the courage to speak up.

In the past my sister has had several mental health episodes she has been coming here and saying that a man that had passed away a few years ago in her complex was playing music to annoy her so he could get her house. One was apparently trying to steal her electricity and she said people were going round breaking into houses and that someone stole her house keys. I took it up with the live-in warden and of course it was things that just were not happening. Her friend is the only real friend she has and apart from her has no one. I have suggested that she join in with the other two but she just does not have the incentive to do this. She needs to want to help herself but can’t or won’t. Since my husband passed I have had her stay over a few nights with me just to give her some company. She doesn’t seem to want to do anything while here and I have to ask her to do things. She goes to bed at 11 at night and it’s about 11 in the morning before she gets up.

She will let you do things for her if it were someone else they would say something like no i'll do that but she will just let you sit and do it for her. I get her shopping online for her delivered to her door and at one point she had the warden getting a newspaper for her and the shop is only minutes from her house my husband and I told her to stop doing it and she needed encouraging to go out and get it for herself. I feel I need to have her here to make sure she is eating ok as I don’t even know if she does that properly when on her own. They do lunch clubs at her complex and she does go to them so I know she is eating because one thing she makes sure of if there is food on the go she will be there just as long as she doesn’t need to cook it and it’s being made for her. She lives off ready meals otherwise. She goes to a club once a week with some ladies in her complex and meets the other two on a Saturday and just walk about the town and apart from that she does nothing.

Before she come to stay over with me she phones me about two or three times that day as if she is looking for reassurance that she is coming to stay with me. I am 60 years old and I am worrying when I get older and can’t tolerate her much longer what will happen if she is not willing to help herself. As I have said I am still trying to move forward from my husband passing and I know she is my sister and I do feel for her, but having her here can sometimes be quite draining. My dad used to tell me things that went on with her and I used to think he was exaggerating but I think I get it now. I have contacted my GP about my own mental health and they have helped with that but I just need to know if there is anything I can do to help her to maybe at least try to do things on her own. Thanks.

You could see if live in care is a good option. Country Cousins do live in care.

Hi @VickyTrish21 I had a sister who had learning disabilities: she died ten years ago. She had massive self-confidence, even when it wasn’t justified. Your sister sounds as if it’s her confidence that has taken a major knock. She knows your husband had the same illness: she may not understand that hers has been caught earlier, improving her chances of recovery. Or she may understand it in theory, but cancer is cancer. It’s scary. And this issue with her long-standing friendship will be eating away at her confidence too.

It may be worth asking about counselling for her.


Welcome VickyT
Your situation sounds very hard. I think you are doing amazingly for your sister.
It sounds like you need support for her so you can have space.
Keep us updated when you can
Warm wishes

Vicky, you need time to grieve on your own.

Have you spoken to the LD Team?

Speak to a learning difficulty nurse. Good luck.

I would warn against having your sister over to your place. It’s obviously easier for her if you do things for her, and she sees you more. Maybe she is thinking that now your husband has passed away, you can do more for her instead of him? Maybe even move in with you permanently?! I know how empty the house seems when you are first alone, but it’s really important that you learn to sit quietly and comfortably in your home alone. It’s like a first stepping stone to a different chapter in your life, but you need to focus on yourself and your own needs for a while, to move forward. On the widow’s forum, Way Up, we all agreed that the very worst moments are at the six months afterwards, when all the paperwork is done, things are given away, sold, etc and you realise how it’s going to be from now on. I would recommend a book called Starting Again by Sarah Litvinoff, primarily written for divorcees, but I found it better than any other book, because it’s very positive about how and when to move forward. Not to be in a hurry to change, to fill gaps, but to think carefully about things you’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t when married. I’ve been on a sewing weekend, went to a live show (I really didn’t enjoy that) and I wanted to travel again but hated flying even with my husband. Doing it on my own was a HUGE deal. Life is going to be very different in future, but you can build a new, different life, although I know you didn’t want to be in this position. On the way into hospital for major cancer surgery, I told my husband that if I didn’t get through it, he was to find a new partner, as I knew he would be devastated without me. He said the same applied if he went first. Sadly, he died of a heart attack only 18 months later, but I knew he wanted me to be happy, and I try to enjoy every day. You deserve a new life. I’m not saying abandon your sister, far from it. Maybe rather than her coming to your place so much, you go to hers?