Loved one in denial.

Hi everyone,

My beloved Gran was recently diagnosed with stomach cancer unfortunately, surgery is not an option and she has recently began chemotherapy.

She has had one session and is due her second round on Tuesday coming, so far she has been ok but today she has started to lose her hair. We have already taken her for a wig consultation and the salon which we are using are fantastic but even though her hair is falling out she is refusing to make an appointment to have her wig fitted, she wants to wait a few days to see what happens.

Has anyone else experienced this? 

Thank you!

  • HI 

    I'm sorry to hear that your gran has been diagnosed with stomach cancer and that surgery is not an option for her.

    I'm assuming that from the title of your post 'loved one in denial' you feel that because your gran is refusing to make an appointment to have her wig fitted you feel that she is trying to deny she has cancer. However, speaking as someone who has had cancer, it may be that this is the one thing she feels that she has some control over.

    Hopefully you'll never get a cancer diagnosis but, if you do, you'll soon discover that lots of decisions are taken out of your hands and people are constantly telling you what you can and cannot do, what treatment you should have, etc, etc. Deciding to wear a wig or not is something that your gran actually gets a say on so you should allow her to make this decision in her own time. 

    I know that you're only trying to do what you think is best for your gran, and I'm sure she realises this, but you need to give her the time and space to make her own decision on whether she wants to wear a wig or not. You might like to take a look at this information from Macmillan about dealing with hair loss as it might give you an insight into how your gran feels. It includes a short video where cancer patients who have lost their hair discuss their feelings about this and what they decided to do.

    Please continue to support your gran, as she'll really appreciate this, but please don't pressurize her into doing something that she's not ready for yet. 

    Sending a supportive ((hug))

  • Hi,

    Thank you for taking the time to get back to me, I completely understand what you are saying and that does make a lot of sense, my Gran is having some trouble accepting what is going on.

    Sadly her hair came out thick and fast the following day from my post and she had no option to go to have a wig fitted however, she was incredibly brave and is receiving lots of compliments on her new hair which has given her a lift.

    Today is her second round of chemo so we are all hopeful that she keeps up the inner strength to get through that.

    Take care x 

  • Hi 

    I'm sorry to hear that your gran's hair has continued to come out. I hope the decision to get a wig was hers.

    It does worry me when I hear phrases like "she had no opinion" because she has lots of options if she doesn't want to wear a wig including shaving her head, wearing a headscarf, etc. 

    Did you get a chance to look at the information I linked you to as I hope it will give you some insight into how your gran might feel. 

    I know it will be tremendously upsetting for you to see your gran as she is now but you must try to accept what she wants even if you don't think it's the right choice. 

    I'm sorry if what I've written sounds a bit harsh but you sound like a very caring person and I'm sure you want to do everything you can to make your gran's life as easy as possible. 

    In your original post to the site you said that your family had no experience with cancer and you were looking for guidance. Hopefully you'll accept my comments as such. 


  • Hi,

    No don't worry I appreciate your comments.

    The wig was her decision as she did not want to be seen by anyone without hair so she chose to do it and it's given her confidence a boost which is great, like you said before I think still having the choice to get a wig or not gave her a feeling of control but sadly she lost that.

    I will have a look at the link which you sent me, it's good to have as much insight as possible. 

    Yes like you say it's very upsetting to see her like this as it all came as a big shock, I don't think anything really prepares you for it.

    Thanks again x 

  • Dear , I lost my hair during chemotherapy and decided not to wear a wig or scarf but I’m from a different generation to your grandmother. I would imagine given her peer group she would feel unsettled by presenting at social occasions without her hair. It’s such a obvious sign that you are most likely being treated for cancer that for some patients it feels like a loss of their ability just to blend in. As soon as my chemotherapy was finished my hair started to grow back and I decided to keep it short after that, I realised hair or no hair I am still the same old me.

  • Hi Jane,

    I think that's what it is, she is 71 and quite involved with the community and I think for her she didn't want to "look ill" or have people talking about her, I guess everyone deals with it differently and you are so right in what you are saying, having or not having hair does not define you as a person and I think that you are incredibly brave for deciding not to wear a wig when you lost your hair.

    When I say that she was in denial it was not just because of her losing her hair she was struggling to accept that her daily routine was changing as she was getting easily tired and not feeling herself but still adamant that she was "fine" and refusing any offer of help around the house etc.

    As I type she has just finished her second round of chemo and I am hopeful that she finds inner strength to keep fighting.

    I hope that you are well now that you have finished your chemo, take care x 

  • Dear, I think when you are already retired when you get a diagnosis of cancer and start treatment it’s very hard to deal with. You have made plans to do things and created a social network, I suspect she may not be in denial about the cancer but instead not yet ready to acknowledge that there will have to be some radical changes to her daily life and hence the reluctance to take a helping hand. Give her time to adjust and I feel she will slowly let you assist her in someway. For now just your hand of friendship will suffice and when she’s ready she will reach out to take it.