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Family Relations/It feels like my family is falling apart, what can I do?


My big sister was diagnosed with lung cancer about 3 months ago. She hadn't been feeling or doing well for over a year and she saw I bunch of different doctors who all said it wasn't anything serious and gave her a bunch of different medicines to take but they didn't do much. She was sent to a specialist at the giant school type hospital nearby that has a doctor for all conditions 3 months ago and the 1st doctor said the same thing as the rest. But the doctor who ran that clinic decided to check her too after our parents told him she had been sick for nearly a year. He found out she had lung cancer that was very advanced because it's a fast growing one and didn't get caught early (I can't spell the name,sorry). She had surgery a few days after that and after that she started therapy. She's been hospitalized on and off since then. Currently she's still in the hospital and has been for the past 2 weeks. I visit her every day whenever she's in the hospital no matter what.

She says she's feeling okay and she's not upset about how long it took doctors to figure out what was really wrong. She says she's going to hurry to get better so she can go back to her normal life. I can tell she's not feeling well at all, I know she really is upset about everything and I know she'll never get her normal life back. I know she's just telling me that to make me not worry or upset but she doesn't even have the energy to get out of bed for longer than 5 minutes.

My questions are about our 'parents' (primarily dad) and how they're acting. I say 'parents' because they aren't our biological mom and dad. They fostered us for about 6 months (after our real mom abandoned us,dad went to prison for life a little while after I was born) before they adopted us back when I was 6 years old. I'm 13 and my sister is 17 now. They've been nice. And very understanding. We know they love us. Mom is also pregnant for the first time. She's 7 months so everything's worse on her.

After my sister's diagnosis our parents seem to do nothing but fight when she's not around. A week ago dad left. He said he needed time away from mom. They told me they weren't going to get a divorce, they just needed their space (dad also said he needed to get away from my sister being in the hospital again). On top of that, dad hasn't went to see her at all for over a week straight. I don't know why when they're so close. I was a mommy kid and my sister was a daddy's girl. He's called and talked to me to find out if my sister got out yet and if she's doing any better but he won't even call her. My mom says he's a 'pitiful coward' for running away. My sister is constantly looking for him to visit and yesterday she started to cry and told me she really is missing him.

I don't want our parents to get a divorce. I want to be a family. We need to be one right now more than any other time. I don't want my sister to cry anymore. I know some of my questions might be hard to answer but mainly I want to know what I can do to help fix my family?

How come our parents all of a sudden can't get along?

Why would he just stop visiting her when he knows she'd rather see him over anyone else?

What can I say/do to help them get back together?

Is it really right to lie to my sister and hide all of this from her? I don't want to upset her or make her feel like it's her fault but I don't like faking, lying and hiding things from her. I really need some helpful advice please.

Thanks for your help.


There may be more going on than you are aware of. What I would suggest if you are able is to have a conversation with him and tell him how important he is to the family. The stress of the medical issues along with the pregnancy may be too overwhelming for he and his wife. Perhaps if he heard from you he could recognize that things are hard now, but they will get better.

Doc David

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Dr. David Simonsen


I am a licensed Marriage & Family therapist with a Ph.D. in Psychology. I work primarily with teens and families on a weekly basis. You will get the straight truth. I will not pull punches.


I have been working daily with teens and families for the last 10 years.


M.S. in Marriage & Family Therapy; Ph.D. Psychology

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