My Husband is becoming aggressive and lies a lot to me.

my husband (71)was diagnosed with bowel cancer over 3 years ago. He had a large part of his bowel removed, and although did not require a stoma bag he struggled with toilet issues. Around this time we noticed a change in his personality, becoming moody and lying about the littlest of things. We put this down to being diagnosed with cancer, his personality changed around this time. We have supported him through each step but are struggling now with his memory loss and temper fits.

Two years ago we were told his cancer had spread to his liver and he underwent along course of chemotherapy every two weeks for 7 months. I took him every visit to the hospital to have his treatment and feel that I have supported him fully, not only with his cancer journey but also through COVID. Not an easy time for any of us.  He had a break from the treatment and seem to be very slightly more like himself but very forgetful still.

Last November we were told his cancer has spread to lymph nodes in his stomach. The scan showed no cancer in his bowels this has remained cancer free since his operation, although he continues with toilet issues at times. The latest scan shows cancer cells in his liver remain the same as do the ones in his lymph nodes. 
To us this is a good result, no new cells and the cancerous ones staying stable. He gets chemotherapy every three weeks and this is ongoing. The dosage is slightly less than before so easier on his body, but his mood swings are getting worse and I am struggling at times to try and get through this. My dad had Alzheimer’s and I see a lot of my husbands actions very similar to his.

Can the chemotherapy be the cause of these mood swings,  the aggression that often flares up and forgetfulness. He is aware that his memory is poor but not that he is lying and being aggressive. My daughter who lives near us and myself see him so different from the person he was. He show us this side of him but friends never really see it as he different in their company, although they have noticed his memory loss.

I am at a loss as to how to cope with it all. After 51 years together I find it very difficult and distressing.
Have you any suggestions as to how we can cope with life as it is. 
thank you for reading this .

Kind regards Isobel

  • Hello Isobel

    I am sorry to hear that things are feeling so difficult and destressing right now. Thank you for taking the time to talk us through what’s been happening for you as a family these past few years, as I can hear that you have all been coping with so much since your husband was diagnosed with cancer. I am really glad you have got in touch for support.

    I wonder Isobel, have you spoken to your husband’s healthcare team about these concerns and the changes in personality and behaviour you have observed? It feels important that they are made aware of his struggles with memory, worsening mood swings, aggression, your concerns over Alzheimers and whether chemotherapy could be causing or contributing to this, so they can explore this and help he, and in turn you, be supported as much as possible right now. Often when having chemotherapy, you will be given a direct number for the chemotherapy unit to discuss treatment related concerns? Or your husband’s Cancer Nurse Specialist and GP are important contacts of support you can reach out to.

    It sounds as if initially you felt your husband’s changes may be due to the emotional impact of being diagnosed with a cancer which is incredibly sensitive and understanding Isobel: absolutely some can find that they experience anger, frustration, shock or an overwhelm which could impact a person’s way of being at that time, and perhaps some emotional support could be helpful (our booklet How Are You Feeling? talks through the emotional impact a diagnosis can have). But the fact this has been continuing, worsening, and impacting your day to day lives so much, it feels very important to speak to his healthcare team so they can be considering all aspects and offering any additional physical, emotional and psychological support needed.

    From what you describe it’s clear that throughout this challenging journey you have been supportive emotionally and practically Isobel, but it’s understandable that this may have reached a point where at times you are struggling to get through this and knowing how to cope from here is feeling so difficult. It’s important you have support for yourself too, and that you feel safe. Do you speak to anyone about how you are feeling at all may I ask?

    It can sound so tiny when faced with what feels like so much, but talking can really help in allowing you to release some of what you are holding and help process your experiences, getting a clearer idea of how you may be feeling and what you may need to help find your way through right now. As everyone feels and copes in their own way.

    If you feel able, it sounds as if it may be helpful to give us a call on our Support Line: here we provide a listening ear and a space to talk things through. We also have our Cancer Information Nurses available on the line who could be helpful if you’d like to discuss chemotherapy and potential side effects in general terms, along with our Money and Work Service if either of those areas are adding questions or worry at the moment. You can call us on:0808 808 00 00, 8am-8pm, 7 days a week or if preferred, speak with us via web chat.

    If talking to others coping with a similar experience would feel helpful at the moment Isobel, you may want to reach out in our Family and Friends Forum on the Community.

    There may also be local emotional support yourself and family could access nearby such as through a local Macmillan or Cancer Support Service. You can search what is nearby, here.

    I do hope this is helpful. Please just get back in touch if you have any questions or would like to talk things through a little more.

    Take care,


    Information and Support Adviser

    Remember you can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days
    a week, 8am-8pm) or by email. ‘