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Woman Asks If She Would Be Wrong For Not Taking Her 'Toxic' Mother-In-Law To Her Chemo Treatments

One would hope that going through difficult times would make people kinder and more understanding.

Unfortunately, it turns out some people response to hardship by becoming even worse versions of themselves.


Reddit user apeybaby's mother-in-law, for instance, is receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer. Since she was having trouble taking care of herself, apeybaby decided to help her relative by taking her to her first chemo treatment.

Unfortunately, she was treated so badly that she's now questioning whether she should hand the responsibility off to the mother-in-law's brother, who might not be quite as capable as her. She visited the popular subReddit "Am I The A**hole?" to help her decide what to do.

Anonymous strangers on the internet were asked if and where guilt is placed by declaring:

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

She told her story in a post titled "WIBTA if I stopped taking my mother in law to chemo?"

"know this sounds horrible but there's background. I've been married 20 years and I've never been close to her. She skips over our kids on holidays and hasn't acknowledged a birthday, except her own, for about 5 years. My husband, her son, doesn't speak to her because of verbal abuse he had from her growing up. My nieces and nephew (18, 19 and 21) also don't speak to her because she is an awful toxic person."
"In February she texted me that she had breast cancer. Being a nurse, I jumped into action and got her set up with a visiting nurse, meals on wheels and a housekeeper. I brought her to her first appt so I could understand what type and the treatment options as she refuses to wear hearing aids and has a 6th grade education."
"I followed up with her brother who lives nearby and relayed what he needs to do to help her. Then came her first chemo appointment. It was 4 and a half hours. She introduced me as "her ride" and "the b*tch" to everyone who came in then sat on her phone talking to "her real daughter in law" being my husband's ex that he hadnt seen since they broke up in 1998, about me."
"Never said thank you. Then I got her home and walked her dog then gave him a bath. Cleaned her house and got her set up with ensure drinks and whatever she needed. Still no thank you."
"Now, I'm in the mindset of she has cancer and she can do or say anything she wants right now. My husband is livid. I didnt even tell him half of it. The more I thought about it the more I just want to wash my hands of it and pass the responsibility to her brother (hes nice but equally ignorant). Would i be a horrible person? I'm just over her ignorant sh*tty behavior."
"EDIT FOR CLARITY: MY HUSBAND WAS NOT UNAWARE I WAS GOING TO HELP. HE DOESNT DEAL WITH HER EXCEPT FOR THE OCCASIONAL TEXT. HE KNOWS WHAT HAPPENED, I DIDNT FEEL I NEEDED TO NAME EVERY SINGLE SH*TTY THING SHE SAID/DID BECAUSE HE WAS ALREADY PISSED AT HER FOR WHAT I TOLD HIM. I NEVER WENT AGAINST HIS WISHES OR BEHIND HIS BACK WEVE BEEN MARRIED 20 YEARS ID TAKE A BULLET FOR THAT MAN. HE IS MY 100% RIDE OR DIE AND I AM HIS."

Many on Reddit thought OP had already done more than she had to.

"NTA- omfg woman, you must be an incredibly compassionate nurse because you have already gone so above and beyond for this monster-in-law, it's crazy! Use the 4 1/2 hours for a spa day next time, and let her "real" daughter in law take her nasty ass to chemo. You've more than earned a break!" -fibchopkin

Others thought OP's husband might not want her helping even if she was willing.

"Compassionate towards the mother, but I wonder how OPs husband feels who cut his mother off because of her abuse to see his wife bending over backwards for this vile woman?"
"Just because she's your husbands mother OP doesn't mean you owe her anything. Not all mothers are nice people. I know you're a nurse and it is ingrained in you to help people but she is not your patient - let her go. She made her bed, she can lay in it." -burgeremoji

Multiple users pointed out that there were others who could step in.

"NTA - it sucks that she has cancer but that is no excuse for the way she has treated you. She has other people in her life that can help her if she needs it." -klocomama83
"NTA. Let her "real" daughter in law take her to chemo." -travellingdink

People who had been in similar situations sounded off on the mother-in-law's awful behavior.

"NTA My son had leukemia and while we gave him tons of leeway it definitely wasn't a do or say anything you want. You still have to be a decent human being to others who's are trying to help you. She can get her "real daughter in law" to take her." -eregina3

Being in a bad situation doesn't give you a free pass to act like a jerk.

"NTA. Having cancer does not mean you get to be abusive. This woman is abusive. The majority of her family doesn't talk to her. You should definitely bow out and refuse to help her. Hell, I'd go so far as to block her number because you just know she's going to start hurling abuse at you once you say no."
"I'm willing to bet that she texted you because she knew no one else would help her and you were soft enough that she could manipulate you. Please protect yourself and block her number." -allcatsarethebestcat

It seemed pretty much everyone was in agreement: OP had every right to get out of there.

"NTA. You would be the asshole if you agreed to perform these tasks and then just bailed. Especially since you knew what she was like beforehand."
"This doesn't seem to be the case. First of all, she voluntold you. Secondly, you went over and above reasonable expectations. Third, she is acting abusively towards you which is not appropriate in any situation. Always set firm boundaries regarding how others treat you. Fourth, you're not just bailing, but turning the duties over to someone else."
"It sounds like you did a large part of the up front work. It's entirely appropriate to turn these duties over to someone else at this point. Her choices regarding hearing aids, treating others respectfully, and following up with her providers are completely up to her. Having cancer does not take away one's ability to choose or protect them from the consequences of their actions." -Reign_Drop

The few people who thought OP was in the wrong said her mistake was ever engaging with her mother-in-law in the first place.

"YTA. Your husband doesn't talk to this woman because he knows she is abusive. She is horrible to you and your children. YTA for not following your husband's lead and letting him set the tone for how you deal with his family." -redrosebeetle

It seems OP is off the hook—no one should be treated so badly by the person they're going out of their way to help!

The book Psychopath Free: Recovering from Emotionally Abusive Relationships With Narcissists, Sociopaths, and Other Toxic People is available here.