How do I help my hubby?

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Hubby was diagnosed with colorectal cancer (tumour in rectum) just over 2 weeks ago. Has since been for his MRI scan to check the structure of the tumour and now has a CT scan on Tuesday to check for any spread. I know this is the one that he’s really worried about.

Biopsies came back showing an ‘invasive’ cancer, that’s what the colorectal nurse said. I think it’s called adenocarcinoma. To be honest, I listened in to his phone call for the results with the nurse but I’m struggling to remember everything that she told him. So is he. All he remembers are the words ‘invasive cancer’.Depending on the outcome of the scans, he could be looking at surgery July/Aug if no treatment needed beforehand or, should he require chemo/radio, he’d be looking at surgery in October. He’s had his pre assessment appointment check, ECG etc.. general chat about trying to boost his fitness before the surgery, which he’s trying to do. Going out for walks, keeping moving and eating a balanced diet.

I know deep down he’s scared stiff about it all - but he puts on this front. I’m really trying to be strong too, but I’m struggling deep down. It won’t do any good me being in tears I know, it won’t change a single thing. I go and have a quick cry in private at the other end of the house when it gets too much, then I go and wash my face. I can’t bear to let hubbs see me upset while he thinks there’s strong chance he won’t survive this. I have to be strong but my God, it’s so hard.

How can I best support him? He’s simply not a talker of feelings. A man thing I guess. He got annoyed with me earlier when I once again suggested he phone the helpline as I thought he would get good support and proper information on there, not Google! He says he’s not doing anything like this until he knows all the facts, what his prognosis is etc.. And we’re both still keeping the news of his cancer from anyone, we still haven’t told our children yet.  Our daughter graduates soon and he wants nothing to ruin her day. But I feel this waiting is taking so much out of him. I know I’m feeling it too. He’s convinced that his cancer is mets and has told me to prepare for the worst. I just don’t want to go there, not until the cancer team confirm if this is actually the case. It’s a door I just don’t want to open, not just yet. I’m not in denial, I know this is serious but  I just want us to have some hope. There’s a lot of positive stories on here, which do give me hope. He however says he’s a realist (and he’s been Googling - which I’ve asked him not to do!). I think it’s just this waiting that’s really affecting him - it truly is awful. I’ve no idea how long he’ll need to wait for both scan results after the CT on Tuesday. 

What do you do when your other half fears the worst…and you are so desperately trying not to?


PS Sorry for the long winded post Disappointed



  • Hi  and a warm welcome to the board. I’ll try to cover a few points in your post but please ask anything you like and I’ll try to answer.

    Invasive means that the cancer is ‘there’ in the walls of the bowel but does not necessarily mean that it has spread outside of the bowel - this is what the scans are checking for. I’ve attached a link so you can see how they grade the tumour. Having said that, bowel cancer is very slow growing and I had symptoms for probably 18 months before going to the doctor and I had no spread to other organs.

    https://www.macmillan.org.uk/cancer-information-and-support/bowel-cancer/staging-and-grading-of-bowel-cancer

    I’ve also attached a link to a really good booklet that I was given at my first meeting which will give you an idea about what treatment to expect, terminology etc. 

    https://bowelcancerorguk.s3.amazonaws.com/Publications/Bowel_Cancer_UK_Your_Pathway_V10.1.pdf

    To be honest I think you’re dealing with it really well. Yes have a cry in private then put on a brave face. Once there is a treatment plan in place then things will honestly feel a bit better. I was told at my appointment that they were ‘treating me with a view to cure’ which I was able to tell family and was reassuring. Google can be scary in the early days so it’s better to stay on here and the bowel cancer uk board. It’s tempting to look for survival stats but 5 year figures are already out of date and people are individuals not statistics. Treatment is evolving and improving all the time and I’ve seen that myself in the short time since I was diagnosed in 2016.

    The support desk is there tor everyone and we’re here too to help and support you both through this. Remember that thoughts are not facts and bowel cancer is very treatable. It’s going to be tough but it’s doable 

    Take care

    Karen x

    Macmillan Support Line - 0808 808 00 00, 7 days a week between 8am-8pm
  • Hi Karen,

    Thanks for explaining about invasive cancer and for sending the link to the Macmillan leaflet. I’ve had a look through it and it explains things really well.

    Once the CT scan is done on Tuesday, I’m hoping that they’ll look at it quickly, alongside the MRI. I know the MDT meetings take place at the end of the week, so perhaps they might have hubby’s results in time for this week’s one. It’s maybe pushing it a bit for time, but I can only hope.. If not, maybe the following week..

    Thanks so much for your supportive words, they really help me.

    Take care x

  • Hey Roses

    My dad is currently getting treatment for rectal cancer. 
    We were told Adenocarcinoma is the most common kind of rectal cancer there is and invasive means its in the tissues of the wall so a proper cancer (not pre cancerous cells ) . 
    If the tumour is tiny they will just cut it out, but we were told by our consultant they like to do radiotherapy to shrink it as much as they can first because some people even get a complete response to radiotherapy/chemo and not even need surgery. 
    We had our results after 2 weeks of the scan , but could be alot quicker it all depends on what day your husbands hospital have their MDT meeting. 
    Your husband going for walks and getting fitness up is a really good thing , he will have a head start if hes doing it now. 
    It really is a hard period the waiting . I hope he gets his results real quick . 
    Also, its definately not a good idea to google. The stats are out of date and also, the consultant said everyone responds differently to treatment so you are not a statistic you are your own statistic. 
    There are even people on stage 4 journeys who are doing well after years. 
    If you didnt know there is also a live chat feature where you can speak to a nurse if you have any questions. Ive found this to be really helpful. 

    All the best and i hope he gets his results real soon 

  • Hi CxO

    Thanks so much for your words of encouragement and for telling me about your dad. I really appreciate this and hope that your dad is keeping ok just now.

    Everything is going to depend on what hubby’s scans show. At least the MRI is done, hopefully it will be looked at and reported soon. We have the CT on Tuesday. It’s all of this waiting to find out everything that’s just the worst. The not knowing. However, after today, we’ve only got one more day until the scan, so we’re trying to keep busy, get out and about. Yesterday definitely wasn’t a good day, I guess it’s all part of the road we’re having to travel along. So many others are in the same boat as us. I hope the results don’t take long. Our MDT meets on Fridays.

    I’ve told my husband what you’ve said, about people on stage 4 journeys who are doing well after years. We don’t even know what stage he’s at yet, but I guess it’s human nature to automatically think the worst when you find out you have cancer. Your brain just thinks the worst possible scenario.. I’m not even going there…not yet anyway.. I just want to always keep hope close by. All hubby can do right now is work on improving his fitness, keep a good diet and if/when surgery is required, he’ll be ready for it. 


    Take care x

  • Hi, I have recently been through the same experience and was told on the 7th of May that I had a rectum cancerous tumour. I was on my own and was in complete shock. I am 49 years old, and  have 3 chPunchdren and a single parent. My eldest is 27 and about to have a baby in July. I have my amazing sister who lives 5 mins away so we decided that we would say nothing until I had my scans and the detailPunchof my diognosis. I had 2 days of shock but managed my emotions and feelings very well. After 3 weeks I was informed that I had a very low down rectum T3 stage with no further spread. A relief, I feaPunchd the worst and just wanted a chance for treatment and operation. I'm lucky I have been gifted with this option. That doesn't mean that everything is going to be OK but It does mean that my positiviPunch has increased massively. I have since told my whole family and children and explained to them that I now have a new challenge in my life that I must focus on. They know me very well an I am most dePunchnitely the positive thinker out of all of my family. Its important for wellbeing and recovery. I have since started a 3 month Capox Chemotherapy X 4 cycle on Wednesday. Was very anxious about the siPunch effects, but can honestly say that my Chemotherapy journey has started well. First infusion was tough, as the side effects hit by the time the needle was removed, dizzy, pins and needles in my handPunchand feet, brain fog and difficulties in breathing ( that was the hardest part, only lasted for 30 seconds but was a quick onset) I had no idea what side effects I would suffer, but I am 4 days in noPunchwith my chemotherapy tablets I'm taking at home, and all my side effects have minimised to 1 out of 10. Amazing result for the first week. I wanted to give you the opportunity to know what you and yPunch husband might expect. Your strength is going to be so important for your husband. It will be tough but your positivity will definitely help him through every day of what ever is ahead. Take each daPunchat a time and don't think to far into the future. Ever journey is defined by how the individual can manage their emotions and mental health. It has been proven that positivity and wellbeing can and Punches change outcomes. I have tuned into my self to help me receive the chemotherapy and strongly believe that my ability to focus and relax has most definitely made a difference. I hope this has helpePunchin some way and gives you some strength to support your husband in most need. I hope you can both be intune with each other and get through the diognosis with strength and positivity. Take care of yourself and take the time to focus on your wellbeing. Its really important you are ready for the journey X 

  • Welcome to the bowel cancer page  - that is a really lovely reply x

    Macmillan Support Line - 0808 808 00 00, 7 days a week between 8am-8pm
  • Hey Roses26. 

    Have you had any information yet regarding your husbands MDT? Been wondering how he got on x

  • Hi CxO, thanks, that’s so kind of you for asking.

    He still hadn’t heard anything, so he phoned the colorectal nurses yesterday. They confirmed that his case is on the list of patients to be discussed by the MDT on Friday, so we should hear back from them after that. This waiting has been so hard… but only a couple of more days now.

    Will post an update once we know more.

    Take care xx

  • Hi Selsey,

    First of all, I should really like to apologise for the late reply to your lovely, supportive message. I have literally only just seen it, my head has been full of so many things this week and I’m not focusing that well right now. How could I have missed it?? Can I also say how sorry I am that you too are dealing with a rectal cancer diagnosis. That must have been a tremendous shock to you with 3 children of your own. Yet you have taken the time to offer hubby and myself some support - you’re incredibly kind!

    Im so glad that you’ve been told your cancer has not spread and is treatable, what a relief that must have been to hear! You sound so determined, positive and focused on your journey and treatment, really amazing for someone who was only diagnosed recently. Reading your story gives me hope, your positive words and outlook are truly inspirational right now believe me! I’m sure others on here will feel the same as me.

    We only found out yesterday that my hubby’s case will be discussed at this week’s MDT. Then we should get a phone call with an update. After that, who knows what lies ahead? The waiting has been utter hell, it’s really taken so much out of us both, in different ways. I want to talk and be open about his diagnosis, so that we can get support from others. However, he doesn’t want anyone to know right now, not until he has all the facts in front of him, has had his face to face with the doctors.. So I must respect his wishes. But putting on this face to the world until we actually tell people has been awful, plus all the waiting for test results. I’ve had to attend family events and put on a pretence that everything is normal when it’s not. I’ve had to keep the diagnosis not only from my children but my closest friend too. So it’s been tough. But the person I feel heart sorry for right now is my dear hubby, who is being so stoic about it all. I so wish he’d talk to someone but it’s not his way, unfortunately.
    Thanks for letting me know how you coped with telling your children, as this is going to be one of the hardest conversations we have ever had with ours when we sit them down to explain. 

    Thank you so much too for your honesty about how going through treatment actually feels, both physically and emotionally. You have helped both of us so much here, I know it’s been on hubbys mind - I told him that you’d posted a message to help us both and he asked me to read it to him, which I have. We’re both extremely grateful Hugging There’s so much uncertainty right now, it’s not going to be easy and we still don’t know what lies ahead as we don’t know the scan results. I’m putting a lot of faith into what the MDT can do to help him. And I’m doing everything I can in order to keep positive as I believe it is the best way forward (although the positivity sometimes takes a dip during the day).

    Can I wish you all the best with your ongoing treatment  and of course the upcoming birth of your grandchild. That’s such a wonderful thing to look forward to and will be a real joy for you all at this difficult time.

    Sending much love,

    Roses xx

  • Thankyou for your reply. I will keep everything crossed it is the best possible outcome it can be x