My mom has been terminally ill for almost a year and my dad has been the primary care taker. I recently moved internationally back to my home country and have been the secondary care taker since the past two months.
We recently settled on a major surgery as the next step for my mom. The surgery would be the only cure for my mom (5-year survival rate >75% vs 15% otherwise). However, it is very expensive - the surgery itself would be 6X of my parents collective annual pensions (they both retired) and post-op medicines required to take for life would take almost half of their pensions annually. However, they owned at least three proprieties in addition to some savings. I don’t know how much exactly. But it doesn’t seem that they don’t have money for the surgery if they want to do it.
My dad was initially very hesitant and very scared of the surgery. He kept talking about the worst case scenario - that we spent all the money on my mom and then what happens if he or I got sick? To resolve his concerns, I invited my dad’s best friends to come over and comfort him. I also offered to give them all my savings, which would cover half of the surgery expense. Also both I and my brother are quite young and healthy; We should be able to make some money in a few years. My dad finally agreed to do the surgery. My mom was initially not certain about it also due to the financial burden, but she was brought on board fairly easily after my dad and I became very affirmative.
Still he had a cancer scare for himself the day after the decision. I went to the ER with him and it was confirmed to be mild infections.
Things have been pretty quiet since then. We admitted my mom for the surgery and were told it should happen in three weeks. My dad also told me that he was a few phone calls away from borrowing the rest half of the surgery money from some relatives.
I thought everything was good. Only yesterday did I learn from him that he was still uneasy about his own health and went to do an enhanced CT, which was not what the doctor had suggested.
The result showed he had a small tumor on his liver. The imaging reported “possibly early HCC (hepatic cell carcinoma). Please refer to biopsy“. I immediately took him to a local doctor, who suggested an invasive surgery. I was not very convinced as the doctor didn’t explain why it would be the best option and am looking for further consultation with a bigger hospital. We also did a MRI today and are waiting on the result.
He was understandably very upset. but it appeared to me that he was almost eager to believe it was cancer. He kept talking about the surgery and that he should start informing our relatives. Most importantly, he told me he was not sure if my mom should do her surgery.
I was heart-broken hearing about that, as it would be my mom’s only chance. There is a certain time window before which my mom are eligible for it.
He also changed his words about money, saying that he didn’t even know who to borrow the money from.
It seems to me he is backing off from my mom’s surgery. At the time I’m trying the most - I have been unemployed for the last two months to just take care of my mom. After giving all my savings, I would have tremendous level of financial pressure as well, while balancing care-taking and job search.
I know it’s an emotionally difficult time for him. I have cancelled my flight for my job search event to be with him. But it seems his diagnosis is still unclear. I don’t know the false-positive rate of the CT scan. We haven’t done biopsy. Even if it is cancer, financially there is no problem as he recently received full health care coverage for cancer (upon my insist). The five year survival is very optimistic (>90% based on my research). Given my dad’s otherwise healthy condition, there are a variety of options available for him as less invasive treatments. My brother recently graduated and joined the care taking force, so we should have enough hands as well.
How do I communicate with my dad to support my mom’s surgery financially and emotionally?