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  • Dilemma- ruin own lives to help relative?



    1 reply

    My wife's mother has just been diagnosed with cancer (lung, brain) and has been given 6-9 months to live. She lives overseas in a poor country with her husband, where they have to pay for any medical fees (no free NHS there).

    My wife lives here with me in England. She works hard to struggle to pay a mortgate and look after me (I have my own serious illness, not cancer, and struggling to stay alive too). We are poor with little savings.

    Her parents have racked up medical bills of £2k already in less than a week going to an expensive private hospital. They can't pay themselves, so any bills will get surely sent to my wife to pay. She is so stressed, panicking, and has already gone and borrowed money from her employer & sent it overseas to cover the first bill without consulting me. This is before any radiotherapy has even started yet.

    I'm terrified my wife is going to ruin us financially very soon - I realise I have no control over her or her parents' spending on treatments.

    But what can I say to her? Don't get your mum treatment? Don't send her to hospital? Just let her die because we can't afford it?

    That was her answer to me when I pleaded with her not to destroy our lives here. If she gets us into big debt we can't repay, our home is at stake, our marriage, her life, my life. Without her support and the stable life I have now, I would quickly die I know that for sure because of my own chronic illness (I've nearly died twice already in the last few years).

    The next bill is probably due within days and I can't even get my wife to tell me how much it will be, because they don't know. They are just spending and spending. with a "let's worry about the cost afterwards" attitude. She's even hinted that she may be willing to sell our house, which will make us homeless again and destroy everything.

    I feel guilty trying to stop her spending, but she may never forgive me if I stop her and her mum dies because we denied her treatment.

    I don't know what to do. Should I try to stop her or not?

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  • Support

    Hello BobF


    I’m sorry to read about your mother in law’s illness and the complexities that you are experiencing as a couple trying to fund her treatment, whilst also managing your own chronic illness.


    Here on our Support Line we provide emotional support to anyone affected by a terminal illness. Whilst we aren’t trained counsellors on the line, we are available to offer a listening ear to anyone that needs to talk.


    It is understandable that you have so many questions and are looking for someone to be able to answer them, as well as having concerns about the impact continuing to fund this treatment may have.


    It can be difficult at emotional times like this to be able to communicate effectively as a couple. You may find it helpful to access relationship support to talk things through, we are aware of an organisation called Relate. You can visit their website and find their contact details here:


    Worries about the impact of getting into debt can be overwhelming, an organisation that you could discuss your situation with is The Money Advice Service. They offer free, confidential advice regarding a range of financial concerns. They can be contacted on 0800 138 7777 and you can read more about what they offer here:


    We hope that this information is of some use to you both. If you feel that a listening ear would be of benefit, do get in touch with our Freephone Support Line on 0800 090 2309, or you can talk to us through our online web chat function here:

    Best Wishes


    Marie Curie Support Line

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