Together we will beat cancer


Unsupportive husband

28 Nov 2021 17:33

I had advanced stage 3 breast cancer diagnosed in July 20, I had a mastectomy, full node clearance, six months of chemo, radiotherapy and have just finished immunotherapy.  I am still on tamoxifen, zolodex.  I am back working full time in a high pressure job, have two young kids and no family support network nearby.  Mostly throughout this whole thing I have been so strong, and take a kick *** attitude to it all.  

Two weeks ago I saw my consultant as I have pain and swelling under my arm and am now waiting for a scan to see if we are back to square one.

This time, I am scared, terrified even, that it has come back.  I'm trying to hold my **** together, but its hard.  Maybe because my consultant told me it WILL be back at somepoint Or maybe because I know what to expect now.

Either way, I am scared, frickin knackered, I hurt continually and am struggling with early menopause, tiredness etc etc.  I'm feeling that Im struggling.  

I just asked my husband for a little more emotional support, to be told that 'he's drained...'completely drained' after the past year.  I get that it affects everyone, and that me having had cancer isnt a trump card, but I do feel so hurt and disappointed that he geneuinely thinks this is an ok response.  I would love to be 'normal life tired' again, 

This is a theme (when i went through radio he expected me to take our kids with me ( we dont live in england) as it would be too hard for him to have them and work).  

Am I being completely unreasonable? Has anyone else had this who can advise?  Thanks x


Unsupportive husband

28 Nov 2021 21:09 in response to cheeseroller

I'm the husband of someone who is currently undergoing treatment for grade 3 cancer.  Dunno the stage as the wife didn't ask as she doesn't want to know.  We just know it can't be stage 4 as the treatment is curative, we have been told.

Has your husband withdrew from other aspects of life, or do you feel it's just you he's lacking empathy towards?  Reason for saying this, it can be tough for those doing the caring and if he's withdrawing himself from other aspects of life, maybe he's depressed? I don't mean just a "I'm feeling sorry for myself" sort of depression, I mean proper depression, as in clinical depression.

Has he ever taken time out to speak to anyone in the support network surrounding a cancer diagnosis? Or did he just get on with it?

If he is just feeling drained and just choosing to ignore you, you have to ask him straight out what a second cancer diagnosis would mean for him and your relationship should that come to pass (it may not btw, just saying). By not having a frank conversation, you are both leaving yourselves ripe for resentment to set in. If he can't do it or again or you having a total lack of emotional support. Unless proper communication happens, one or both of you will just resent the other. He has to understand he can't just think cancer away and i think this is exactly what he is doing. If it doesn't get spoken about, it's not real. It's not happening.  Only it is and it's affecting you emotionally.

Unsupportive husband

28 Nov 2021 22:46 in response to cheeseroller

Oh gosh, this is so hard and much depends on context. For instance, i have a friend who just deals with everything on her own. She is very kick *** and her family are taken aback when she does ask for support! She also takes on too much and I am sure her husband wishes she'd slow down a bit. Could your husband not take time off during your radiotherapy? Was he terrified about money? With all due respect with both of you working full time with two children, no support and having already dealt with one cancer journey I'm not surprised you are both struggling. Could one/both of you give up work or go part-time for instance? If your husband is emotionally abusive then that's not on but perhaps it's just more that he's a bit clueless or can't cope with as much? Some men are good men but just don't know how to offer emotional support. It really sounds as if you need to prioritize your health and children and work on some lifestyle changes? I appreciate you're the one going through the medical stuff but from personal experience I also know that the family can really struggle too and kind of feel like their emotional state doesn't matter. Perhaps he's worried he'll go under and needs to detach a bit to be able to still support the family. It sounds like he has been really honest but I can appreciate it hurts. 

Unsupportive husband

29 Nov 2021 17:55 in response to cheeseroller

Hi Cheeseroller,

No. You aren't being unreasonable. The person with the diagnosis has it the hardest. No question about that. It's our life that is on the line (or at least it feels like that) So no, your point is fair enough. 

My husband managed the shock of it all by being quite practical about everything. He got good food in, got me to have the 'right' friends round. Cleaned the house, tried to remain upbeat throughout it all. I could see that was the only way he was going to get through this but honestly (?)  I wanted something different from him but didn't have the strength to say....Equally it probably wasn't until the treatment was over that we both kind of sunk with exhaustion and I guess with some relief. We didn't talk that deeply about stuff until that point. We were both a little estranged from one another I think. Hard to explain but it's like someone has already said, we almost didn't dare speak  before then because the 'threat' seemed too real. Too close to engage with. 

It took us a while to say honestly how we were. Both crumbling really but we found a way back through just being together and chatting. Lots of tears. Perhaps some anger from me too. I know tomorrow isn't promised but I had felt so fit and well and living my best life. How on earth could cancer intrude on that???? 

Anyway, I think what I am trying to say is that we made it through by finding the right time to talk and in the right way (for us) to do it. Your husbands response isn't what you want. Tell him when you can. Talk. Hold on. I don't really hold with that thought that 'men find emotions difficult'. They need to grasp the nettle like the rest of us. Cancer isn't a joy ride for anyone. 

I wish you well. Relationships are so tricky. Hoping time will ease your angst and heal the wounds. Go well. 

Kebb x x 


Unsupportive husband

29 Nov 2021 18:53 in response to Anon.J

Thank you, you make some really good points, I guess hebus being honest but it still sucks.  You are right though, we need to make some changes as its all too much for everyone, I dont have a great tack record with asking for help so he probably isnt well versed in responding...I think as Kebb says, we probably need to talk , thank you forvtaking the time to help x

Unsupportive husband

29 Nov 2021 19:00 in response to ProfBaw

He spoke to someone when I was first diagnosed but only briefly, he doesnt want to and I cant push it.  He is an Ostrich by nature.  But we may not be able to ignore it much longer. 
You are right about the resentment, its already clear it is there, on both parts which is sad, I imagine this must happen a lot after such a big life changing event.  I think I may go chat to MacMillan ans seek support in other ways for now.  Thanks for your help, much appreciated

Unsupportive husband

29 Nov 2021 22:12 in response to cheeseroller

Hello Cheeseroller,

                              if your looking for support try Maggies,if they have a centre near to you,l guarentee they are an oasis of calm and a refuge for a troubled mind,and yes l speak from a truly helpful experience, hope things work out for you,


Unsupportive husband

30 Nov 2021 04:31 in response to kebb

Some men (and women) do find emotions difficult. We may wish it wasn't so but it's true, especially if they suffer depression, be on the Asperger's spectrum etc. They may find it as difficult to walk in your shoes as you do theirs hence misunderstandings arise. No one can be responsible for fully meeting another's needs which is why it is so important to have a support network. I have 4 very close family members who have/are suffering cancer. One is terminal as I write. Another is 80, recently widowed. They have said that in their opinion it is harder for their loved ones so I just wanted to point out that everyone is different, every relationship is different, everyone's communication style is different, everyone's coping abilities are different. 

Unsupportive husband

30 Nov 2021 04:37 in response to cheeseroller

It does suck. I had a very serious health issue 2 years ago and my husband is lovely but he quite often says the wrong thing or just doesn't know how to emotionally support me which left us both feeling frustrated and upset. He prefers to be left alone when worried and is mostly logical and practical and lives in the moment whereas I am the opposite. We had to have some proper heart to hearts to really understand each other. Sending you a hug.

Unsupportive husband

30 Nov 2021 11:32 in response to Anon.J


Completely 'get' what you are saying and mostly agree.  We all need to have an understanding of someone else's position, never more so than when someone is disadvantaged. I truly don't feel that by being a 'male' though that they are 'disadvantaged' by gender.....far from it. Emotional intelligence isnt something females are born with and males are not. 

That said, I stand by my comments that the person who has the diagnosis has the rougher end of this whole topic. It's very tough watching someone you love die as most people over 60 likely have. I feel it's a bigger 'ask' to be under threat of death just is. 

Lastly just to say I feel Cheeseroller has made a big point. We don't always get what we want from our partners (and we don't always give them what they want either) but I feel  it's always quite hard to say so on a forum such as thanks to you Cheeseroler for bringing it up. I wish you all the luck in the world with your health and with your partner. In my case we got lucky and found that space (eventually!)  where we could truly communicarte again. As I sa, we got lucky.

Go well.