• How is your spouse dealing with your illness?

    Asked by lanie516 on Saturday, May 31, 2014

    How is your spouse dealing with your illness?

    I think my husband has been in denial about the seriousness of pancreatic cancer until recently. He has been minimizing it to me and telling me I'm negative when I tell him the truth about this illness and the statistics. He doesn't like when I cry and get feeling down but he's the only one around when I'm starting to feel blue and sorry for myself. Should I avoid showing him how I feel and cry alone or to a good friend? Is it being selfish to show him my true feelings? When he gets stressed out he gets angry and that stresses ME. I was just wondering how other spouses, especially husbands, are handling this.

    25 Answers from the Community

    25 answers
    • CAS1's Avatar
      CAS1

      My opinion is very few husbands are good at cancer support. My husband is a good man and a good husband. He shut down..could not handle it....He was in denial and just would not talk to me. I can say that for 10 months I was all by myself..He was awful. Even traveled when I was at my worst, weak, could hardly take care of myself after lung surgery. Left me alone for three days.
      But I have to forgive him because he cannot help it. But it is what it is.

      over 5 years ago
    • CrazyHarry's Avatar
      CrazyHarry

      My wife has been unbelievably supportive. Taking care of my medications. Making sure that I get my doctor appointments set right, etc. Most of the time, she appears to care more than me. I'm on my second cancer in a year, this time of the thyroid. As I prepare for my next treatment for my whole body scan and radioactive Iodine, I'm supposed to be on a special diet. She is sooooo strict. And she gets angry even if I veer a little. I had asked her not to be such a nag, which she just can't be. We have survived worse and we will survive this.

      One term I learned from a good friend of mine is, a Cargument, or an argument in the car. The worst kind because there is no place to hide. Try to avoid them. They never end nice. :)

      My wife is going through much of what you are going through. If you need some support being supportive through this wild ride, you can have Greg hook us up via email.

      Best wishes to you both as you embark on your healing journey.

      over 5 years ago
    • CAS1's Avatar
      CAS1

      Now if we could all have wives during cancer treatment..

      over 5 years ago
    • LiveWithCancer's Avatar
      LiveWithCancer

      When I was first diagnosed, my husband was more supportive than he ever had been before in all of our years of marriage. He cooked. He went to the store. He still goes to all of my treatments with me (he thinks I won't tell him the truth about what the doctor says). I think in the beginning he was really worried about me dying. But, as time as gone on and I started feeling better and am able to handle the household chores again, he has certainly given those responsibilities back. And, if I say something about dying, he tells me that I am not going to die... Which I hope is true, but realistically, I have stage IV adenocarcinoma of the lungs ... the stats are not great for a long life after discovery of the cancer.

      I know that if things take a turn for the worse, he'll be there completely for me. I think his reaction may be the exception rather than the rule though.

      over 5 years ago
    • barryboomer's Avatar
      barryboomer

      Cut HIM some slack as Some People can't deal with it. Doesn't mean he loves you any less.
      It's HORRIBLE for a spouse.B

      over 5 years ago
    • CAS1's Avatar
      CAS1

      Men always stick together its the sports team thing....He He Barry....!!!

      over 5 years ago
    • banditwalker's Avatar
      banditwalker

      My husband has been a great support since day 1 BUT, (you knew that was coming) he never bothered to learn any of the medical side of it. He never bothered to learn what I wanted to eat to change my diet, etc.... He never asked me any questions unless I brought it up. And I was the kind of patient that was always UP and never cried. Then, I was done with treatments and like "livewith cancer" says, he really hasn't lifted a finger around the house like usual. I am still very fatigued and can do some more chores but not a lot.
      Maybe he could use someone to talk to also? You know, that has been in your situation yet kind of like an objective observer.

      over 5 years ago
    • barryboomer's Avatar
      barryboomer

      Has anybody ever read the book Men are from Venus and Women are from Mars....I think that is the title. We are almost different species....lol
      Just the way it is. I can't understand MOST women and never have been able to....lol
      B

      over 5 years ago
    • CAS1's Avatar
      CAS1

      A book i would suggest is. WHEN LIFE BECOMES PRECIOUS. None us us are ready for cancer. All of us blind sided and most likely PTSD..Day at a time. By God's grace we go.

      over 5 years ago
    • lanie516's Avatar
      lanie516

      The difference in the species is that most women are caregivers and most men are not. Simple. They expect us to be their mothers even when we are down and out. And I have to say for the most part I do as much as I can when I can. I need some slack too.

      over 5 years ago
    • Russ' Avatar
      Russ

      Hi Lanie516, and All, Being a caregiver is very difficult for either man or woman, but you have to know that it comes natural for women...by nature they are nurturers. They are by far the better caregivers. Of course it doesn't mean that men cannot be good caregivers as well, but they have to put forth more of an effort into the chores, and the taking care of their wives. As far as crying goes...none of us, man or woman, should ever hold back our feelings in front of each other...(in sickness and in health). Never deny yourself your feelings...if you are sad then cry it's okay. I myself cried in the beginning for several different reasons; I cried because I didn't want to die; and I cried because I felt so sorry for my wife and children in the event I did die. I always looked back on those times as emotional cleansings. Look...none of us are prepared emotionally for the day when we are faced with a deadly disease such as cancer. Never ever deny yourself those feelings, but the key is to not dwell on the negative...get them out and move on! Cancer however should not be a journey you have to take by yourself. That is why "WhatNext" is so important. It is an outlet for those who don't have that support at home. Even if we do have the support at home from the family...and many of us know that support from family and friends is very important, but as hard as they try...they just don't get it. Unless you have been through what we have been through, and are currently going through, you just don't get it. Every one of us here on WhatNext get it! I myself am a 13year+, stage IV, pancreatic cancer survivor, and in those 13 years I have been on several websites, and I must say that WhatNext is by far the best. There are so many great people on this site, but it all starts with Dave, and Greg. They are the best...thank you guys for developing, and managing this website for all of us. A site like this is so therapeutic for all us...including the caregivers.
      My best to all of you,
      Russ

      over 5 years ago
    • CAS1's Avatar
      CAS1

      Russ I agree with you about the site and the people. And somehow someway you have to put youself in the path of healing and peace..I need some ativan from time to time..And my Dogs give me such joy..It wad my beloved aussie shepard winge who first smelled my cancer in my breath..Find that which gives you joy and try your best to dwell thete.

      over 5 years ago
    • lanie516's Avatar
      lanie516

      Thank you Russ for your honest and thoughtful reply, and it is so very good to hear that you are a 13+ survivor. Gives many of us hope. It will be one year from diagnosis on August 7, 2014, and I hope I can say I am a one year survivor. And you are right. This is a great site. I've only been on about a week but I see how helpful it is. God Bless you and all others on here. Hugs....Elaine

      over 5 years ago
    • LiveWithCancer's Avatar
      LiveWithCancer

      Wow, Russ!!! What a wonderful response! And WhooHoo on being a 13-year survivor of pancreatic cancer!!! That's fantastic!!

      over 5 years ago
    • Russ' Avatar
      Russ

      Hi Lanie516 & LiveWithCancer, thank you both for your well wishes on my survival of pancreatic cancer. To be a survivor means that you have another day to live, but you must live it with a purpose, and my purpose is to reach out to as many people as possible. I was given a second chance so I reach out to those who follow in my footsteps, and who have been newly diagnosed with cancer. Elaine...don't worry, you WILL be a one year survivor on August 7, 2014. So make sure you let us know how you are feeling on that day. Is that the date of your surgery? That is the date I use as my date of survival...the day they cut that horrible disease out of me. Hugs to you Lanie. Hi LiveWithCancer...thank you for your kind words. It appears to me that you too are a fighter. I looked up your profile, and on your wall...you have had a rough go of it. Even though we have different types of cancer we are both stage IV, and my battle with chemo 24/7 for 5 weeks, with radiation at the same time was a killer. No stamina, and the fatigue was awful. It didn't help any that I vomited every day. I was crawling on my hands and knees until I could stand up. I thank God every day that I walk out the front door. My best to you, Lanie, and all those on WhatNext.
      Russ
      P.S. My wife and I are celebrating our 47th anniversary this October.

      over 5 years ago
    • cam32505's Avatar
      cam32505

      I think it is difficult for any spouse to be supportive when they are worried they might lose their spouse. So, give him time to come around and forgive him when he can't be supportive. I think it is their way of protecting themselves from feeling so bad and not being able to vent.

      over 5 years ago
    • lanie516's Avatar
      lanie516

      Russ, my date of diagnosis was August 7, 2013. I live in NC but come from NY where my family all is so I went to Memorial Sloan Kettering for surgery. The surgeon really thought he could really get the thing out of me but told me he wouldn't be sure until he went in. Well, upon awakening when I asked he told me that he was not able to b/c the thing was attached to my portal vein and hepatic nerve (liver vein). I was devastated, and from all my readings on pancreatic cancer, the Whipple is the only cure (even though the thing may return years later). So I still have the thing in me and as of my last CT scan at the end of March it had not metastasized but had grown about 3-4 millimeters (not much but still grown). It's hard to be positive but there are days I feel so well and so normal that I can almost forget for a while that I'm on borrowed time. Bless all of you on here for reaching out and helping others.

      over 5 years ago
    • downtown's Avatar
      downtown

      I have found that my husband also cannot deal well with my illness. He seldom goes to appts. with me, and continues to tell me he knows I don't have Cancer, despite MRIs endoscopic ultrasounds, etc., that point in that direction. He has taken over alot of our household chores so I am grateful for that, yet, like you, I have little support and not many to talk to or sort things out with. 2 of my closest friends also abandoned me when I became ill. It is so shocking to me as these were lifelong friends. Bottom line, alot of people just can't deal with those they love being very ill. It is a sad commentary on humanity, but we must go on, find joy and support where we can, and forgive them.

      over 5 years ago
    • laura526's Avatar
      laura526

      Oh boy, this is a hard subject in our house too. I am on the young side for having pancreatic cancer and my husband is younger then me. Add 4 young kids, starting at age 4 (who has cerebral palsy and life-threatening seizures and on up to a temperamental teenager with mental illness issues...we just don't have time for all this cancer stuff lol. That being said, my husband just likes to pretend it doesn't really exist. He gets upset when the chemo has me tired or im stuck in the bathroom for long periods of time due to nausea and vomiting, not to mention fun bowel issues. I haven't lost my hair or have a port so I "look" normal besides being pale & tired looking and some extra wrinkles, and I think it affects how he views things too. When he gets angry about the fact I cant do everything I used to do and want to do, I get super frustrated and feel completely alone. Ive told him that nothing he can say can make me feel more guilty then I already feel for having my family have to go through this stuff too. He refuses to attend any doctor appointments with me and has never gone to one or a treatment. I have asked him to go to counseling with me or a support group so we can work as a team through this and the answer is always "no". I know this is a hard thing for him too, but I wish he realized how hard it is for me also. He did finally seem to get it a little more when I received the "Cancer survival toolbox" DVD set and started putting them in our dvd player at night so he HAD to listen about the realities of this disease from someone other then me. That and hearing personal stories from others finally brought him around a little bit, at least as far as being angry at me for side effects and such. I have accepted the fact that he is not going to be a team player with me through this journey, but I love my husband very much and so I deal with it. I get that some things are hard to understand unless your in the situation, I just wish he was willing to try more. He has many good qualities and can be sympathetic at times when im just too sick to function. He definitely doesn't like me to talk much about the cancer, treatments or meds, but doesn't like me to talk to friends about it either since its "private". So finding this site has been a god send to me. Im not all that active, but even just getting on and reading other people's posts and such helps me feel like im not alone. That and a great support team at my oncology center has helped keep me focused. I dont think theres any good answer for dealing with a distant spouse besides make a choice to get the support you need from the myriad of other options out there. At the end of the day, it is OUR fight individually and with the other fighters and survivors and those who choose to join us in the fight. Sometimes, its not who you expect or wish it could be, but not everyone is strong enough to deal with this disease and I think we have to be ok with that, for our own peace of mind. I pray, I talk to those who want to be part of my team and I hope that once this fight is over he has learned something from it too.

      over 5 years ago
    • lanie516's Avatar
      lanie516

      Thank you for your response Laura. My situation is almost the same. My husband has very little interest in my doctor visits, my meds, my limitations, etc., but I'm beginning to understand better from reading the responses on here. As hard as it is to deal with our own immortality, it must be so very hard for them to deal with it too. I wish he were different and things were different but they are what they are. Laura, if you need a support person, I'm here. Elaine

      over 5 years ago
    • laura526's Avatar
      laura526

      Thanks Elaine. You can message me any time also. I think, especially as women, that when something tough is going on that we assume our husbands will be our "rock." But with a situation that is so emotionally charged and with a lot of men who think emotions are something that they aren't supposed to show that it makes it harder for them to deal with. Like you said, death of a loved one is a scary thought for anyone. And I think that since there's not anything they can do to "fix" us, they really dont know how to deal. Its taken me quite awhile to be more understanding of this but will admit that I still feel hurt and maybe a little bitter on some days. Chalking it up to an unexpected cancer challenge lol

      over 5 years ago
    • CAS1's Avatar
      CAS1

      With all due respect to some men I just don't think most men can ever fill the void of compassion and empathy that another women can fill..Not all men bust most.Thats why we women must have a network of other women around us for support. But even then it's still difficult. I was there for my sister during her battle. Doing all the research, talking for hours everyday to build her up, flying out to see her. But I still have regrets.Then I was dx so I think I am more understanding because I gave 24/7 and yet I still feel I could have done more. We so need to find joy and support and rely on the higher power to be perfect.

      over 5 years ago
    • CAS1's Avatar
      CAS1

      But I am bitter towards my husband sometimes too..but I do tell him and he admitts that he is not good at caregiving and he feels sorry about it.

      But Russ gives such a good point..every day we must try and live with a purpose. Cancer has brought me a sence of urgency and priority and one of those is not to hold anger.

      I just refuse to let myself hold onto anger. I don't have time.

      Just read an article from a study that says that people who have gone through cancer treatments have lost 10-15 years of their life from the treatments.

      None of us have time for anger and resentment..Sit down and tell your spouce or partner exactly what you need and if they dont do it then you have to find the support elsewhere.

      If they dont do chores then let those chores go...Do they really matter?

      Let it go and do what makes you happy with a purpose.

      Everyday there are new breakthoughs in medicine none of us know the future.

      over 5 years ago
    • Qsommer34's Avatar
      Qsommer34

      Older post, don't know if anyones still following, but what real and honest responses. I am a caregiver, a wife, and I know for a FACT that the hardest part for my husband, with this dreadful dx, is the thought of me without him.

      We were young parents so our 2 daughters are both out of the house and well established. Though not in this state. We'd recently relocated and have no 'close' friends, only acquaintances... fair weather friends at best. Intermittent church goers but many of them have been very thoughtful with well wishes and sometimes food. I am an only child and his brothers and sisters are all more then 200 miles away. Without him I'm very much 'alone.' But he never wanted this for me.. I talked early on about my fears but it upset him so much I've reserved my outbreaks for the poor 'acquaintance' that ask me 'How are you holding up?' Spontaneous breakdown ensues.

      Financially I have NO IDEA how I'd make it alone. Silly us, no life insurance and too young for Soc Security. Add the emotions and BOOM. Again, there's nothing he can do about it.. I've leaned heavily on the Serenity Prayer and this most definitely falls into the 'Accept the things I cannot Change' dept.

      over 5 years ago
    • Russ' Avatar
      Russ

      Hello Elaine, It has been so long since I wrote you, and when your name came up I was wondering how you are doing. I can remember when you said that you hoped to become a one year survivor. Well I believe you past one year quite some time ago, and it will be 2 years this upcoming August. Good for you! How about your latest scans...what do they show? Any treatments lately? Please let me know how you are doing...my best to you Elaine.
      Russ

      almost 5 years ago

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