Are my Relationship issues caused by my incurable cancer?

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Hi folks.

This may seem like an usual issue but since having been on this incurable colon cancer ( stage 4) journey I have come very close to a divorce on a few occasions and was looking for any advice please that may help.

I feel that my patience with the one that is meant to be close to me is practically none existent most of the time. She is and can be quite a volatile individual but before my diagnosis I had the patience and where with all to handle her carefully and in the main we got along very well for many years.  Now I find we have little in common and I am very irritable with her alot of the time. I know she is under stress as well with my illness but doesn't seem to be empathetic or understanding of my needs ( which are not great as I am able to still look after myself and do most little tasks that keep me going ). She wants to fuss over me and mither too much for my liking then get angry with me when I dont want or need that approach. Maybe she just can't accept my overall situation?

We have been to couples therapy and that seemed to work for a while but a few months on we are back to daily fallouts and niggles and my life / time left is too precious for that. I am living on HOPE for better things / times in my life but the issues in this relationship is getting me down ! 

Is this type issue more common than I have been thinking or is it just me ?!  



  • Morning, i cannot really answer that questions, though looking at it from my view.

    When i got diagnosed, my hubby, tried to smoother me, no not with a pillow.

    I have always been very independent with in the home, and certain things where my jobs, he worked away all week, when we where younger,

    I remember one time i was on chemo, and needed to cut some Orionis, he said he would do it, no my job.

    I had to sit down as was weak, i did it, though took me over an hour, I felt good with inside as i had done it, some thing so simple.

    We got threw things with a Red and Green ball, i am laughing.

    If red ball on unit, do not talk to me, if green ball, everything was good, and yes i need a cuppa.

    Then the tables where turned and he got diagnosed, i knew how we would have to approach the situation and we did.

    Its very hard for both parties, and life in one way does change, even to each other, it happens.

    I am sure with a bit of help, you can and will get threw this, have you spoke to Macmillan and see about counselling.

    Sit down and  both of you have a discussion, of how to approach the way, you go forward,  to get threw this. it takes a bit of take on both parties.

    You are not a lone in this situation, i am sure, if it does not break you, makes you stronger.

    Hope others come along, 

  • Thanks. We have tried to talk about it but usually just ends in another fall out. Probably my fault . The ball is a good idea though .


  • Hello Norm

    I'm sure this is a very common problem!

    Unfortunately, the 'little niggles' that are present in everyone's life, eg not getting on with a colleague, falling out with your brother/sister/cousin, having a less than perfect relationship....they all go on after you have had a cancer diagnosis! They may fade into the background at first, whilst you deal with the initial shock/anger/anxiety of a cancer diagnosis...but will eventually re-appear. No life is perfect!

    I think having a cancer diagnosis in the mix can bring its own problems....maybe guilt being one of them. The partner of the person with cancer may feel obliged to stay, because they think they need to care for the other. The person with cancer can feel guilty for needing support.....and this can put pressure on both parties, even in a strong loving relationship.

    My relationship with my own husband is far from being good, but we are both reliant on each other for support, and would both be totally without support if we split up. We have talked about this, but not in any depth.

    Some people do make the decision to separate during their cancer 'journey', feeling that they will be happier in the time they have left if they are separate. It is a major decision to make....but it's a major decision to make regardless of your health! 

    There aren't any right or wrong answers to your question. I hope you are able to reach a decision that you feel comfortable with, and that will give you hope for a happier future.

    Although you have tried couples therapy, maybe you could look into having individual counselling for yourself, so that you can look at the issues in your relationship and how they affect you as a person, not as part of a 'couple'? It may Give you some space to reflect?

    I wish you well, and hope you can find some calm and happiness, whatever you do!


    • Hi Norm, your not alone in this. At first my husband tride wrapping me in cotton wool, he expected me to do nothing but rest, then I'd yell "god while I can I am doing things as normal ,his face would drop and I'd feel mean but kept on going.  We had a good talk about it,  my mood swings were awful, but he told me he just wanted yo take care of me. After a lot of talking we decided to make a list who does what, eg one cooks the other washes up,  all othere jobs sorted. But after 4 years on incurables there are times my Ray has had to take over and boy I am  so greatful. He also has a few health issues and I do what I can for him, it's give and take on both sides. I do hope things work out for you both, take care. xx
    • Moi
  • So true Ellie  and by the way I luv the ball early warning thing. Mind you I just said about it to Ray and he said " the way your mood swings were you'd have thrown them. Lol. xx


  • LOL Yes thrown them at him

    Tom kept on do you want a cup of tea NO, though if as i said green ball he knew he could talk to  me, and yes wanted a cuppa, lol what we have to do

  • Hi Norm,

    Hope it's a good day out here for you 

    Your not alone I think once you have been diagnosed as incurable or terminal ill everything changes.

    I have very little patience with anyone including my wife especially if the say they are feeling poorly or sick 

    The day to day asking if she can do anything for me grinds me down ( still relatively fit and healthy other than the usual cancer treatment side effects) I don't need to be asked every few hours I know it's out of love but grrr.

    I do think the partners take on much more stress than us patients.

    Your not on your own lots going through the same hope it helps all the best Ry

  • Hi Norm, As you can see from your replies, there is no easy answer to this!

    At first after dx my husband started to follow me around "making sure" I was alright. If I got up from the chair he'd ask what I wanted and said he'd get it! Then one time when I answered " I'm going for a wee, can you go for me?" We both laughed and he realised how daft it was! I told him there and then that if I needed anything or wanted anything and couldn't get it myself, then I would ASK for help. However I wanted to try myself first! That worked!

    Then last year, he was dx with Bowel Cancer and I was aware I was mollycoddling him once he got home after surgery. I said would he just let me know when he needed help then I didn't have to keep asking or trying to guess what he wanted. He said, to my astonishment, he loved being looked after! That's when we had another discussion about how tired I was getting, doing everything for both of us. He said he didn't understand about the fatigue before. As It just hits you and you have to lie down!

    Now we look after one another. He does the shopping, I make the meals. We have had to get someone in to help with housework and gardening every second week but we both do what we can. I think talking it through is the best thing! Be patient with one another, remember it is usually concern, not nagging. If you love one another you will find a way through!

    Love Annette x

    Yesterday is History, Tomorrow is a Mystery, Today is a Gift!!!
  • Hi Norm I can only speak from my own experience as my partner of over 30 years said she wanted to live a life for herself which she has done. Bit of a kick in the nuts to say the least but loads of counselling and I am over it now. If I can beat cancer I can handle someone leaving me . All the Best Good Luck Regards Minmax