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Sean's avatar

Why is my father being so secretive about his doctor?

Asked by Sean (47points) March 28th, 2008

My father told us over 12 years ago he was dieing from cancer. During this time he has gone through several different types of treatments (at least he says so) it has now reached the point of diminished returns where he isn’t getting any more treatments and tells us he is going to die, very soon.
He will not let anyone talk to his doctor. Not even know what her name is.
We know that he is taking methadone, and has been for awhile. At least a couple of months now. He looks terrible. There is no doubt that his time is short, I just can’t for the life of me figure out why he is so stuck on this secrecy thing.

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7 Answers

BioTechWarrior's avatar

no offense meant here but i had a friend who had the same thing going on
his dad was having an affair with the doctor and when he “died” he actually ran away with her

edit; but dont listen to me I’m prolly wrong

Riser's avatar


Your father is receiving information that he doesn’t even want to hear repeated. His secrecy shouldn’t concern you. I would respect it and move, recognizing that there is close to nothing you can do about his illness. I am sure the details of his visits are not pleasant and not only does he not want to repeat them to you for his sake he is also trying to keep you from having to go through the emotional pain with him.

If you need a more personal response I would say that if I were in the same circumstance I’d want it to be my business and let my children focus on spending time with me instead of my doctor. I would have no reason to disclose my medical information or burden them with the details.

paulc's avatar

Dying of cancer isn’t pretty and everyone reacts to it in different ways. My father was totally stoic when he was diagnosed with his third onset of cancer. He acted very scientific about it and would talk very openly and graphically about his illness. That put a lot of people off but it was just his way of dealing with it.

Don’t worry about your father’s reasons for things right now. His body is in complete revolt and has likely had some experiences he’d just rather not go into. He also might think that he is somehow protecting you and your family.

Make the most of the time you have it, it is so important. If he’s starting to look withered and taking heavy pain killers often (methadone definitely qualifies) then his time could be drawing short. Make sure you tell him all the things you’ve wanted to and think of some things he might want to hear that haven’t crossed your mind. Most of all, just be around him as much as you can.

nocountry2's avatar

12 years seems like a long time to be dying of cancer – perhaps it is another illness he would rather not have made known, sparing himself and his family percieved shame or embarrassment. Either way, dying is obviously extremely personal, and while his requests may be puzzling it seems like the important thing is to respect them and make good use of the time left

Trustinglife's avatar

What I want to offer is not advice for how you deal with your father’s secrecy – just empathy for what that must be like for you. It must be painful to feel shut out by your father with something that could be incredibly intimate and bring you two together.

I know that would be that my experience. Thanks for bringing your question to this forum. I feel you.

scamp's avatar

My Father did something similar. He was very ill for a year before his death. He had a large suspect growth on one of his kidneys, and the doctors said he wouldn’t survive surgery to remove it. At least that’s what was said when we were present. I have a feeling that he decided not to go through treatment, and asked the doctor not to tell us anything more than what we already knew. the reason why I say this is because he told me once that he only had a year to live, but didn’t go into any detail.

I think the reason why he did this is because he didn’t want to spend money on treatments. He would rather have left it behind for us. Money wasn’t an obstacle for him, but I can see him thinking it would be better for us to have it than to waste it on medical and die anyway. I sent him once to my husbands pain management doctor to try and get some relief. The doctor injected his spine under xray, and told me afterward he suspected renal cancer.

So, I think your Father may be doing the same thing. I think he wanted to go through his treatments privately and spare the family of all the gruesome details. He may have initially told you of his diagnosis, but decided to keep the rest of the details to himself both to spare you and so that you wouldn’t treat him “different”.

For now, allow him the dignity of his privacy and focus on spending time with him as much as you can. It would be a very good idea to contact a local chapter of hospice for guidance in this matter. Hospice can help you understand what is going on with him, and give you tips on how to deal with this on a personal level. Hospice is a great help to the families of terminal ill patients.
They can help you find peace in all of this. My heart goes out to you.

oceansmist's avatar

My father did the very same thing and was very secretive and refused the doctors at MD Anderson to give us any information on his condition nor would he tell us anything other than that he was “great” or “fine” and he refused to allow any of his family members to go with him to his treatments at MD Anderson. But this was because of several reasons that probably have nothing to do with your situation: 1) He was a life-long alcoholic and apparently deceived himself into thinking none of us ever knew that (DUH!!!!) 2) He had several medical problems including cancer and refused to allow anyone to know about it 3) He was having multiple affairs and he was having these women go with him to MD Anderson for his surgeries/treatments, etc. so there was no option of having his family know about any of this.

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