Diagnosed at a young age

If you're diagnosed with cancer at a young age, you might have very specific concerns as to its impact - this group's a space for those diagnosed at a young age to share and talk about their experiences with others of a similar age.

My husband is really struggling

Alice2583
Posted by

A bit about me first - I was diagnosed at 32 with bowel cancer. I had surgery and chemo but because my diagnosis was late due to my age, it’s come back in my liver and spleen. I’ve had chemo and surgery to remove my whole spleen and part of my liver. There’s some still in the liver so I’m having chemo again now.

I’m really worried about how my husband is coping (or not coping) When he was leaving for work this morning, he asked me what my plans were for the day. I said Mum will probably come and get me so I can spend some time round there today and he got really sad. He’s jealous that my family are spending so much time with me when he’s not. I told him that I’m scared about the illness cutting my life short and now it’s scared him too and he’s worried he’s seeing me the least. Ive told him I understand and I’m sorry but I’d rather be with people than on my own. He said he’d obviously rather that too but still feels sad. I’ve told him I’d rather he didn’t say that to me - because then it makes me feel guilty. He says things like “maybe if it was the other way round, you’d understand.” I do understand and I’d love to be well enough to go to work everyday.

I feel strongly that I need to be able to be honest about my fears with him. But do I need to be more careful about what I say? Do I need to try and protect him a bit? I don’t want him going into work each day resenting my parents for being retired.

greg777
Posted by

Hi Alice,

I am so sorry to read about your current situation. I was 36 when diagnosed and so was not too dissimilar an age to yourself. I also experienced problems between my wife and my parents and it is fair to say that cancer can make things very messy with family relationships. I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer, you have got to do what is right for you. I started off being very honest with my wife, but slowly reigned that back in as I could see how much damage it was doing to her. She felt resentful if I spent more time with my parents, I think that is because from her perspective she felt she should be the most important person in my life. Maybe your husband feels the same and maybe some reassurance along those lines would help? I do think the spouse’s experience can be incredibly difficult, as they have all the same mental impacts but less of the attention. Maybe he just needs to know that he is still really important to you and that you understand that he is suffering too? I wish I had a perfect answer which would show you a way forward. I’m not sure there is one though, I suppose all you can do is what feels right for you.

Wishing you all the very best

Greg

Alice2583
Posted by

Hi Greg,

Thank you for taking the time to reply. You’re absolutely right that there’s no right answer but for my husband particularly, I think reassurance is probably the way to go. He’s very insecure anyway due to past relationships and family issues from years ago.

Without wishing to diminish his feelings, he can act quite immaturely about things too - ‘acting out’ for attention. This can take a few different forms but overall I think he doesn’t always realise how he feels until after he’s had a bit of a meltdown. It’s usually not until he’s in tears and at his wits end that we can have a genuinely honest talk. Like I said, I don’t want to diminish how he feels and I don’t mean these things in an insulting way. This is just how he copes - or doesn’t cope - with things. It can be pretty exhausting for both of us.

Did you find that you and your wife returned to your original level of honesty about things? Or do you still protect her feelings a bit? I think I’m probably being naive thinking I can just be completely honest with him about how I feel. It’s bloody scary for him too and he’s got a lot less people to turn to about it.

Alice

greg777
Posted by

Hi Alice,

I would definitely say that things have got more honest between me and my wife as time has gone on, but this is probably because I have got less to be honest with her about if that makes sense (ie, I’ve been feeling better). As well as the physical aspects, I struggled quite a bit with the mental aspects and my wife has struggled with those too, and I found that when I was being honest about that, I was dragging her down too, which wasn’t good for her own mental state.

Don't get me wrong, honesty is really important in a relationship. I just think sometimes there are some things that even our closest don’t want to hear, and I’ve learned to not tell them. That’s when sites like this become really helpful as they are a safe space to air those feelings without upsetting those closest to you.

Hope this helps

Greg

Alice2583
Posted by

Yes very helpful. Thanks again