Together we will beat cancer


Supporting my husband

30 Jan 2023 22:24

Never really done this before but this is completely uncharted territory for me. 

Background- my husband has an older brother and their parents are divorced. My mother in law lives alone and has no partner.


My mother in law is coming up to her 3rd year anniversary of her diagnosis for lymphatic cancer. Throughout the time that she has had the cancer she has been very selective and not always share the full truth about her condition. She has contracted many different infections and each time she has been stubbornly resistant to going to the hospital, despite the fact that she needs to. To the point she has completely refused. 

Yesterday, she started to have kidney pain and once again refused to go to the hospital. It wasn't until oncology was called by my husband that she actually went as they stated she had to be seen. After hours of being at the hospital today, it looks like her cancer has grown and is now pushing on her kidneys. We will know more tomorrow for certain. 

I am just looking for some advice in terms of how to best handle this from the perspective of being a partner. My husband tends to withdraw when infections or illness occurs with his mom. I always feel so upset and frustrated on his behalf when his mom refuses to go to hospital. I always end up saying the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing despite it only coming from a place of love and care. I just want to help my husband and support him but most of the time I am just the one for him to have a go at. 

Supporting my husband

1 Feb 2023 22:58 in response to Beckyk17

Hello Beckyk17, 

I just wanted to welcome you to our forum and I hope that by now you will have found out a little more and that the hospital will have given you more information about your mum in law's cancer. 

It's difficult in a situation like this to be in the position of the partner and to find the right words or know what to do especially if your husband has a tendency to withdraw. You seem to be very supportive and whatever words you may have used, what matters is that it came "from a place of love and care" as you said. It sounds like your husband is not always receptive to what you are saying to him probably because the stress of it all is making him withdraw a little and perhaps you could just have an honest conversation about this and simply mention that you are there for him if he needs to talk.

It is possible that the not knowing what is really going on is making him withdraw in his shell even more and I hope that you will have received a bit more clarity by now from the hospital and more information about the progression of your mother in law's cancer. 

I will now let our members come and say hello and share their thoughts with you on how best to support your partner during this difficult time. 

Best wishes, 

Lucie, Cancer Chat Moderator 

Supporting my husband

2 Feb 2023 00:20 in response to Beckyk17

Hi Beckyk17,

In some ways your siituation is similar to mine, except the personalities are changed. I have Multiple Myeloma and am palliative care/end of life.

Firstly, I'm on the side of your Mother-in-Law. I too am prone to infections but I will never again go to hospital. I have my reasons as I'm sure she does. Furthermore, she has no obligation to share the entirety of her condition.

All my 6 children are adults and all except one were supportive of my decision. The odd one out might equate to your husband's position, who thought I should take every opportunity to extend my life.

I had to explain my reasoning to him such that he was put at ease somewhat and was able to support my decision.

My advice would be to try and persuade your husband, at a time when your MiL does not have an infection to ask her if she can explain her reasoning such that he might be supportive.

Hope this helps as I can see you're in a difficult position.


Best Regards