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Support for my husband

lori80
Posts: 1
Joined: Jun 2008

My husband was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 15. He is almost 28 and has been in remission for over 10 years. When we first met, he talked about getting married and having children. But as he has gotten older, it seems like he is more and more affected by his childhood cancer. He constantly lives with the fear that it will return. So much so that he recently told me that he is scared to have children. He doesn't want to have a child that may develop cancer. He is also scared that we will have a child and then he will be diagnosed again with something and perhaps leave me and the child alone. It's a very valid fear, I just don't know what to say or how to address it. I've looked forward to having children my whole life, and to have him say this to me left me speechless. We have not talked about it much because I just don't know what to say. Has anyone gone through this or felt this way??

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

I would ask your husband this question: 'If you had had the power to decide whether or not your parents would have had you, what would you have decided, in hindsight?'

If he answers that he would have decided they should not have had him, then his problems go beyond a fear of cancer in either himself or a child; it would appear to me that he is unhappy on a very deep level to answer that way.

If he answers that he wouldn't have changed a thing, then I would ask why it should be any different for you and him as you decide whether to have children.

We live on this earth only once, as far as I know, and no one ever promised that it would be safe or fair. But it is THERE for us, and we have to choose to live it. We CANNOT let cancer do more than it already has... it has caused us physical duress and it has caused us, clearly, some psychic trauma, but it CANNOT be permitted to cause us to live in perpetual fear; it CANNOT be permitted to dictate how we live our lives.

If counseling is in order, then so be it, but he MUST not let the cancer win this one.

Best wishes to and you and your husband.

Take care,

Joe

TereB
Posts: 288
Joined: Apr 2003

I agree with Joe. Cancer is scary but we cannot let it rule our lives. When I was first diagnosed in Feb. 1987, after the surgery, I decided not to have any more kids (I already had two) even though I wanted another one. I was afraid I was going to die and leave an infant behind. My fear was huge because my parents died when I was a little girl. At the time I though that I shouldn't risk having more children who might get some terrible disease or me dying and leaving them without a mom. It hurt to give up the child that had not yet been conceived. Six months later I was very depressed so I went to therapy for a while; it helped me a lot and I was able to live and do things that the fear of getting sick or dying kept me from enjoying. Well, it's 21 years later and I am still around. Both my kids are grown now and have been very healthy.

Nobody knows if they are going to have cancer or some other disease. Nobody knows if our kids will have some cronic disease after they are born. Some people are in remission for ever, for some the cancer returns but they fight it and win again.

The fear is very real, valid and normal. We just shouldn't let it rule ours lives. Talk with your husband and like Joe said, maybe some counseling will help.

I leave you with something from the Cancer Crusade that is encouraging:

Survivor
I have cancer but cancer does not have me.
Cancer is not who I am.
It is only a bend in the road that is my life's journey...
an unexpected detour on my path.
It is a lesson in the cosmic schoolroom that is human existance.

So I will pause to rest...
and heal...
and study the lesson...
before I move on to my life beyong cancer.

I will not give in to fear
and I will not be discouraged by setbacks;
setbacks are only opportunities to review the lessons.

I will not be ashamed of my scars.
My scars are the brushstrokes in the masterpiece that is my life.

I will be thankful for the many blessings cancer has brought into my life:
people I would never have known,
love that I have never been still or quiet enough to witness,
humility I needed,
strength I thought I had lost,
courage I never knew I had.

I will remember that I can still have fun
and that it is okay, even healthy, to be silly.

I will remember that to find joy in rainbows...
I must endure the rain.

I will remember always that while I may have cancer,
cancer does NOT have me.

All the best,
TereB

jac21
Posts: 5
Joined: Aug 2007

Hiya I just had to reply to your message because it made me cry. I had my kidney removed 16 months ago and apparently i am now fine. I have a 6 year old son and it seems that I must have had to early stages of cancer when I was pregnant. It kills me to think that I might have passed on a cancer gene to him. Having had cancer leaves you on an emotional roller coaster forever. One minute you feel positive the next you feel devastated and emotionally sick. If my cancer ever returned it wouldn't kill me the thing that would get me first is the thought of leaving my son behind without a mother - I would die of a broken heart. I know it all sounds very dramatic but that's how cancer makes you feel. One thing that you could suggest to your husband is that you have two children and then if anything happened to him or you at least the children would have each other. I hope you are able to sort this situation out but of course it depends on how emotionally scarred your husband is. Please don't tell him to look on the positive side of life because that is not always possible for everyone - he just has to try and find something that will make him feel better about how he feels.

TereB
Posts: 288
Joined: Apr 2003

I'm glad you are doing fine after the removal of one of your kidneys.

Did your doctor say you had early stage kidney cancer when you were pregnant? If he didn't, why don't you talk to him so you'll know what to expect. Maybe you'll be reassured that your child is fine. We don't always inherit the cancer gene from our parents.

Yes, cancer is a difficult disease, we all go thru all kinds of feelings. It is sort of like a roller coaster, like you say, but it doesn't have to last forever and we do not have to let it rule our lives. There is help available to help you go on with your life and actually enjoy it.

I worried about my kids too. Worried they might get the same thing or that I may drop dead at any moment. None of that happened and that was 20 years ago. My first tumor was slow growing and had probably been there at the time I was pregnant with both my kids.

Cancer is very scary and it is okay to feel scared, angry, depressed, etc. but we do not have to stay there. Have you considered counseling? Many cancer departments have social workers who have experience helping cancer patients deal with the roller coaster of emotions.

I think it is a good idea to look at the positive side of things because that helps you have hope and also helps against depression. Sometimes it is hard to do for some people, but it is NOT impossible.

Take care

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