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Teen Chastised After Calling Out Parents For Only Giving Brother With Terminal Cancer Attention

Silhouette of a teenage girl sitting down.
KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images

No matter how hard we might try, no one has complete control over their emotions.

As a result, we often find our emotions getting the better of us at very inopportune times.

Sometimes finding ourselves saying things we deeply regret or fill us with immense guilt.

Redditor Electrical_Shock_412 and her family were all going through a devastating time.

Making matters worse for the original poster (OP) was that making her feel even worse than she already was, was the lack of attention she was receiving.

When the OP expressed her feelings to her parents, they had little to no sympathy to offer.

Worried that she was being selfish, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where she asked fellow Redditors:

“AITA for being “jealous” of my brother with cancer.”

The OP explained how she felt sidelined by her family owing to tragic circumstances.

“I (18 F[emale]) have a brother (26 M[ale]) who has terminal cancer.”

“Ever since he got sick, my family has given me less attention which is understandable.”

“But now it feels like it’s to the point where they don’t care about me as much anymore.”

“We have a family group chat; on my birthday, everybody asked how he was doing instead of wishing me a happy birthday.”

“My parents watch movies with him and spend time with him and never invite me.”

“A few days ago, I got frustrated by the fact that I am feeling so left out and ignored that I told my mom about it.”

“I told her I was feeling like a ‘glass child’.”

“She called me disgusting and couldn’t believe that I was ‘jealous’ of my brother with cancer.”

“For clarification, I’m not jealous that my brother has cancer.”

“To be honest, I’m not jealous at all; I simply used that word because it’s the word my mom used to describe me.”

“I spend time with my brother.”

“We recently went on an overseas trip, just the two of us together.”

“What I’m upset about is that my family doesn’t put much of an effort to check in on me or spend time with me.”

“I understand that he has a limited time left and that they want to continue to spend time with him before he’s gone, but still, don’t I deserve love too?”

“So, aita?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

The Reddit community agreed that the OP was not the a**hole in this sad and difficult situation.

Everyone agreed that the OP had every right to feel neglected and that what she needed more than anything was attention during this difficult time, with many sharing their own similar experiences.

“Your NTA.”

“My mother had cancer.”

“It was treatable, and she’s fine now, but I was her caretaker, and at the time, I was ten years older than you are now.”

“I remember one day I just got so frustrated.”

“I was so burnt out.”

“Exhausted from managing everything working and going to school.”

“And every time someone called, it was to check in on her, and one day I lost it and said can’t a single person ask how I’m doing.”

“I just wanted to be seen for one minute for someone to say are you okay? How are you handling it?”

“I felt selfish for that thought then and still kind of do now even though it’s long since passed.”

“But I know it was because I was trying to hold it together knowing the person I loved was falling apart.”

“And instead of feeling like a member of the family, I felt like a rent-a-nurse outsider there for vitals and other people’s emotional support.”

“I don’t think you’re jealous.”

“I just think you’re struggling to navigate.”

“You did the right thing by speaking up.”

“I’m sorry they reacted the way they did.”- unknown_928121


“It’s okay for you to hold two truths at once, you’re very sad/scared that your brother has cancer, you’re very sad that everyone forgot your milestone birthday and are excluding you from the family events.”

“Usually I’d not say anything bad about a mother dealing with her child having cancer, but her reaction to you was the only ‘disgusting’ that I read here today.”- Posterbomber


“I volunteer with an organization that serves medically vulnerable children, and one of our services is literally giving time and attention to siblings of sick kids.”

“You’re allowed to feel hurt and left out, especially since you’ve mentioned you hang out with your brother—it’s not like you’re bitterly ignoring him.”

“Your family can pour their love and support and energy into your brother without neglecting your feelings.”

“Stay strong!”- classy_cleric


“From what you say, all their attention is focused on him, and they don’t realize how out in the cold they’ve left you, even after you’ve tried to talk to them about it.”

“Your feelings are not ‘disgusting’. You are feeling like you’re losing your parents on top of the tremendous pain of losing your brother soon.”

“I hope there is a way you can make them see what they’re doing, that you need them too.”

“You all need each other right now.”

“I’m really sorry you’re going through this, but you are definitely NTA here.”- IamIrene


“You would be if you were actually jealous of your brother with cancer, but I don’t think that’s what it is.”

“I think you’re feeling forgotten and neglected.”

“It’s normal for your family to be giving so much time and attention to him because that time now has a definite limit.”

“From what you’ve said, though, you don’t have a problem with all of the time and attention he’s getting. You just have a problem with the fact that you no longer get any.”

“It’s normal and understandable that you would feel like you don’t matter anymore if you are ignored or overlooked in their effort to spend as much time as they can with your brother, even if that’s not their intention.”

“I’m sorry that your mom dismissed you and made you feel bad about it when you reached out to her rather than having a conversation about it and trying to see your point of view.”-SecretlyABadass


“I’m sorry for how your family is treating you.”

“I had cancer when I was younger, and my sister, who was 17 at the time, felt the same way as you.”

“And she was correct. My family did treat her differently while I was sick.”

“It sucks because you’re suffering, too.”

“Cancer affects the whole family, not just the person suffering from it.”

“Cancer is terrifying, and it’s awful to see someone you love afflicted.”

“You aren’t a terrible person, and you aren’t wrong for feeling this way.”

“Your parents probably figure you don’t ‘need’ them as much as your brother needs them.”

“That’s how my parents felt.”

“But, geez, a simple ‘happy birthday’ wouldn’t hurt.”

“It may not mean much coming from an Internet random, but happy birthday.”

“I hope you have many better ones ahead.”- GingerBelvoir


“It’s very sad that your brother is sick, but you don’t stop existing because he has cancer.”

“I understand your parents’ desire to spend as much time with him as possible and to focus on him and how he’s feeling, but if they push you away while doing so, they will regret it.”

“I know this because my mom did this to her children when my dad was dying of cancer, and it took a long time for her to repair things with my younger brother and sister after he passed.”

“It’s easy to get tunnel vision in these situations, but they can’t just press pause on the other people they love during his illness.”

“You are still their child, and you still need them too.”

“You are NOT selfish, and you are NOT disgusting, and you are NTA here.”-  Cheap-Awareness-5522

The OP later returned with an update, sharing how after one more unfortunate moment, her parents seemed to show signs of turning a new leaf.

“First off, I would like to thank everyone for reaching out.”

“I truly appreciate all of the links to support groups and such.”

“I have a long page in my notes app where I saved all the links lol.”

“Also, all the happy birthday wishes were so kind.”

“Thank you.”

“As an additional update to my situation, yesterday, my dad reached out to have dinner with me.”

“We went out to eat at a restaurant.”

“The first thing he started talking about was my brother.”

“He didn’t ask me how I was doing or what my current interests were or anything, just reminding me that he was going to die.”

“I got really upset and left for a little while because, once again, I felt like I didn’t matter to my family.”

“Later that day, I called my mom and explained to her how I was feeling.”

“She told me that she understood and was sorry that I was feeling that way.”

“She said she would try to include me more.”

“So, hopefully things will change, and I won’t feel so neglected in the future.”

It’s understandable why the OP’s parents felt her brother was something of a priority.

However, they should have taken into account that his illness would also have a serious effect on the OP’s emotional well-being and that she needed as much or more attention during this hard time.

Thankfully, it seems that they have come to learn this, and everyone will be there for each other going forward.

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.