Emotional issues

Cancer can be emotionally draining, but sharing your feelings can help you and others in your situation. Talk about it here.

Help with relative not coping


Hi I need some advice and am hoping someone can help.

My mum has been diagnosed with bowel cancer metastasised to the liver. She has had half of her bowel removed and is now undergoing chemotherapy. The chemo is taking it’s toll and making her very ill. She’s struggling to eat most of the time and is tired all of the time and in pain. All the symptoms however are expected.

But my mums husband is not coping. He is a nag anyway but now has turned abusive. He has accused her of deliberately not eating and giving up so therefore killing herself. He is trying to force feed her. And so making her feel more ill.   Everything she does is a problem. He went out the other night and my mum called her neighbour (I don’t live nearby) and she helped my mum feel better but when he got home he shouted and said she clearly thought he wasn’t looking after her and should move out and live with me or one of my siblings. She couldn’t walk at that stage as it was 4 days after her last treatment. They have previously had a happy relationship so this can only be a symptom of stress and not being able to cope. When we see him he clearly doesn’t want help, but at the same time obviously needs it.

i don’t know what to do. My mum says she’ll handle it. She’s had an appointment with her GP who is going to gently ask him if he’s ok (he’s happy to see the GP because he’s a hypochondriac anyway. 

Any advice would be gratefully received .  Thanks 

Posted by


I'm sorry to hear about your mum's diagnosis and that her husband doesn't seem to be coping as well. It sounds like he is obviously upset and scared for your mum and wants someone to blame - even though there is no one to blame for this diagnosis, it is noones fault. It is hard when things like this happen, because it is out of everyones control and so often people may become frustrated at this and blame those closest to them. However, this probably wont be helping your mum feel any better, particularly mentally as it may be causing more stress. Trying to keep your mum as less stressed as you can will help because, feeling well emotionally can then help you actually feel better physically. I think it is a good idea that her husband goes to see a GP and maybe even considers counselling so that he can get his emotions out to someone else who he wont upset. I have had counselling myself during my own cancer treatment and it has really helped me get through the hard times. Having someone unbiased to speak to is a really good outlet to get things off your chest knowing that you are upsetting anyone else. It isn't always for everyone but it maybe worth a try. 

A cancer diagnosis and its following treatment unfortunately doesn't just affect the person who has it and this makes its even harder. I can't stress enough how having your family and friends around you to support you is so important - I wouldn't of been able to get through without it. 


Posted by

Hi Louise, tell your Mum's husband that eating after chemo is sometimes impossible because everything tastes either like wet dog or like its been dipped in old fat, ask him to get her some fresh pineapple or pineapple ice lollies and ginger biscuits or ginger and lemon tea bags. All these things helped when i was having chemo and couldnt eat. He needs to get help to channel his anger somewhere else as it really doesnt help when you not feeling well to be shouted at, He is probably scared and maybe just needs someone neutral to talk to. Men are a funny breed anyway. Mine dos care but sometimes fusses round me to the point where i want to tell him to go away but i never would hurt his feelings as i know he has my best interests at heart. Hope your Mum feels better very soon, Lynn 2 x

Lynn 2. xx

Posted by

Hello , welcome to the online community, I’m sorry to hear of your Mums diagnosis and how it’s affecting both her and your family at the moment, but I couldn’t help thinking what a great Mum you have and that she seems to be handling things ok even though things are tough. Like I think that was great idea for your Mum to get their GP involved, and I love your assessment that this reaction from your Mums husband must be stress, I’m a patient to, and my husband’s reaction was to become all matter of fact and not show any emotion, so we are not all the same, we had a very long chat one evening that to me showing no emotion was a little bit like pretending he didn’t care and that that wasn’t working for me and that I needed to know that he was ok. So we had a long chat and a cry and it brought us closer together again and able to off load to each other. 

I think your Mums way of handling it has a good chance of working to, your Dad needs to be able to think things through and talk to someone, the Gp may recommend counselling or a cancer support group to talk to or even the carers group on line here could be suggested to him. 

You said you don’t know what to do, and indeed we usually only give our personal experience stories that might help. I have no experience of being a carer and the strains and fears that they must be under. But I have read through the Macmillan sections which helps me understand a bit. I will put some links in as they might help you to be more prepared for if or when you feel you need to do something more than just stay impartial, but to help each of them with their cancer related problems.



Your Mum and her husband might also benefit from talking through the section below 


I don’t know if your Mum is loosing weight but in that section it goes through not getting upset if the patient can’t eat, but suggests others ways of gently persuading someone or having small snacks certainly not trying to force feed them. 

You may need some support yourself as you will also be having to cope with a barrow load of emotions so I hope if you haven’t already done so that you join the friends and family group, have a look at some of the posts to see if it would help. https://community.macmillan.org.uk/cancer_experiences/being_a_relative_/discussions

Best wishes


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