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How to support and manage my alcoholic father who was recently diagnosed with cancer

Community Member

My father, whom I don't have the best relationship with has just been diagnosed with prostate cancer. I believe my father is a a narcissist due to behaviours he has displayed. He is also a highly functioning alcoholic. He has taken no care of himself or his health for essentially his entire life he avoids doctors due to anxiety. My husband and I have been supporting him through this diagnosis, even with the very vague amount of information provided to us about his cancer. We do ask regularly, he is just very tactile with the information he provides us. We have been taking him to and from appointments ect, offering him a place to stay and a hand while he's recovering. Each appointment he has been drunk and clearly stinks of drink.


My concern is, essentially every single day since this diagnosis he gets off his head drunk. Then lays in bed all day the next day and doesn't eat. When we call in to his house he says he's feeling "sick" and ushers us away. Which before this diagnosis he actually had no idea he had cancer as he had no symptoms. This is something that has been happening for a long as I can remember, even though he denies it. However it has gotten significantly worse since the diagnosis. We now have real concerns that he was not honest with us about the cancer diagnosis. It may possibly be worse than he let on originally due to his behaviour. He has called me so many times drunk, can barley even get his words out and non-sensical crying saying his life is over for the last few weeks.  This is really disturbing for me. He keeps saying he's not going to get time with his granddaughter (who he's essentially spent no time with anyway). 


It seems very odd that someone who received good news, that cancer was isolated to one area would behave like this.  I do not know how to approach this subject with him as he is very dismissive towards me. Difficult to communicate with and oftentimes just downright mean towards me.  He is due to have surgery next week to remove his prostate. I have insisted he stays at my place to help him with recovery from surgery, which he is adamant he doesn't want to. He has no help at home so he does need the help.  I also want to see first hand if he is going to be drinking or not as he has always denied his drinking behaviours.


Nothing stops this man from getting his drink. He is constantly drunk. He has had many incidents of drink driving and accidents with his vehicle that I don't know how he can deny it to my face. He has been putting his health at such significant risk with the drinking over many years now that it is incomprehensible to me that he could consider something like this was a possibility OR WORSE ! How to I even approach the subject of reducing drinking if he values his health and while going through this treatment? 


Please help?

1 Reply 1

Hey there,
Welcome to the Forums, we are so glad that you have found us here at what sounds like an incredibly challenging time. It sounds like you have a huge amount of concern for your dad and this must be weighing heavily on you. It can be incredibly tough when the person we are trying to care for does not seem willing to accept our support.

Having the conversation can be incredibly daunting. Our friends at Turning Point have some great tips for starting the conversation on their website, as well as accessing support for yourself. If you would refer to chat, they also offer online counselling.
It is important to take care of yourself, too. Caring for another can take a huge toll on our wellbeing. If you ever want to talk, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Beyond Blue Support Service – 1300 22 4636 or web chat or email available at http://www.beyondblue.org.au/getsupport   

It is really good that you’ve been able to share this here. It might take some time for our kind community to spot your post, but we’re sure they will soon be here to offer their kind words and support.   

Kind regards,  
Sophie M