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Relationships and marriage before and after the diagnosis

Luci Ann
Posts: 2
Joined: Feb 2011

I have been wondering about how a breast cancer diagnosis changes a marriage or a significant relationship. For example, my sister was thinking about leaving her husband the year before she was diagnosed with stage IV Breast Cancer. After the diagnosis of advanced cancer, she reported her marriage is "perfect". Something about the diagnosis changed the marriage and she has been living almost four years since that time. Any thoughts?

carkris's picture
carkris
Posts: 4523
Joined: Aug 2009

Many people post about this. sometimes it stregthens a relationship and makes you see the person through different eyes. In some case it is the straw that breaks the camel's back. Others have had Significant others leave them. It definately challenges you and how you cope. You notice the differences, and the communication changes. I have had BC 3 times in different stages of my life, and the relationship changed both times.

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carkris
Posts: 4523
Joined: Aug 2009

because the second one was right after the first, smae time period.

survivorbc09
Posts: 4378
Joined: Jun 2009

With all that we have to go thru and all of the stress, I believe it can help, hurt or not change your relationship at all.

For me, my marriage got even stronger which I didn't know was possible. We are fighting for our lives with a terrible disease and it can make people look differently at you.

Jan

pinkkari09's picture
pinkkari09
Posts: 878
Joined: Sep 2009

Hi LuciAnn, My husband wound up cheating while I was fighting for my life. After my major surgery, I moved out. Now today, we are divorced and he is very remorseful and helps in any way he can. Not sure how to react to this, but one thing I do know, I'm happy alone and plan on staying that way. Our marriage was rocky before the cancer. There are many posts on this and as stated, it either gets stronger, fails, or stays the same. Best of luck with your sister.
Miles of Love,
~Kari

roseann4
Posts: 994
Joined: Sep 2009

relationship over the edge. Most women give well over 50 percent to make their marriages work so when they can't while going through bc treatments, the truth comes out. The good men rally and who wants the ones who don't?

Roseann

CypressCynthia's picture
CypressCynthia
Posts: 3956
Joined: Oct 2009

I do believe that it can shine a light onto your relationship, so that you are maybe able to see it more clearly. The rats will really show their butts and the good guys will be there for you 100%. I am lucky and have a good guy. Cancer made me appreciate him a lot more. Whenever I am ill, he is right there: taking me to the doctor's, taking care of me when I'm sick and always being a cheerleader for me. But the stress can break good people apart too--communication is so important.

carkris's picture
carkris
Posts: 4523
Joined: Aug 2009

CC looks like you had a great time! Agree with above totally. I am lucky that my husband has stood by and helped me so much. He doesnt always get it, but he really has held me up.

Luci Ann
Posts: 2
Joined: Feb 2011

Your comment and many of those posted who replied to my question make me think that the marriage was seen in a different perspective after the diagnosis and that both partners appreciated each other more (with a couple of exceptions). For myself, I needed my husband more after I was diagnosed (11 years ago); I appreciated him more; but in general we have a emotionally distant relationship. He does not seem interested in what I do and seems emotionally removed. He said the cancer diagnosis was different because that was a bigger thing. Now that it appears I may survive, the marriage is much the same as before the cancer. I am wondering about the effects of isolation on cancer progression or remission. Thanks for all of the comments.

disneyfan2008
Posts: 5340
Joined: Oct 2010

We have been married 22 yrs at the time. (kids mostly grown) We just had LONG conversation yesterday (some of cancer talk)how I wish he would be more intersted in tests results! I am not a worrier & just wait for results..I just say ALL is good..he's good to go..!

Partial denial- for sure..

I was lucky no real issues...surgery-home 2 wks...did radiation on my lunch hour..so did not effect the family or hubby per say...life just went on!

so perhaps that is why it did not effect it..LOL...

camul's picture
camul
Posts: 2042
Joined: Dec 2010

I have been divorced for 12 years, but friends with my ex-husband, we had 2 boys and were married 19+ years. Since 2009 when I started growing new tumors, he has been here for me as a best friend. The illness and subsequent diagnosis brought a closeness that had not been there since the early days of dating! This has really not only been a shocker but a blessing for me and our boys!

Heatherbelle's picture
Heatherbelle
Posts: 1221
Joined: Jun 2010

Hi Luci Ann,
Oh how the stresses of a cancer diagnosis & treatment affect the entire family. My husband & I are in our 30s, with 2 daughters aged 9 and 2, and have been married 10 years, together for 17. We've had ups & downs throughout my treatment, the hardest part was actually right after i finished active treatment (chemo), in October. Things seemed to escalate into alot of bickering, nagging, it got to a point where we could hardly be around each other. He was frustrated with the damn cancer & wanted things to get back to normal, I was having mood swings & just pissed off at the world, lol. It seems to have been a phase that we worked through. For a while we were writing letters, emails, and texts to each other to communicate, because talking just led to arguing. I say, whatever means of communication works for you, use it. We also talked to a counselor a few times. I think any realationship in which the people are committed to making it through, can survive cancer, as long as both have desire & willingness to keep the lines of communication open. My husband and i are back in sync with each other now, and the bickering & arguments have really decreased. We've learned through this to really speak our minds to each other, instead of not saying what's going on, and again, communication has been key to our marriage coming out stronger than before my diagnosis.
My relationship with my best friend, however, is quickly deteriorating. Shes my cousin, and we have been close since we were little girls. The farther away from treatment I get, the more aggravated she gets with me. Im not the same person I was before my diagnosis. Apparently she doesn't like the "new" me as much as the old....
*hugs*
Heather

briedawn
Posts: 8
Joined: Mar 2011

My husband and I had a huge fight last night over something minor and fixable. We are both being forced to rethink our roles. We have 2 daughters, I work full time as a nurse, and am going to school to finish my BSN. This cancer has lousy timing.

I'm the glue that holds my family together... make my husbands lunch, taxi the girls to school, plan and cook the meals, and the hundred other things moms do. I have to learn to let go of things. If my husband doesn't make his own lunch,then going hungry is his choice. It doesn't mean I don't love him. It means I'm tired. But it has been a big adjustment for him. As a nurse, it really is in my nature to take care of everyone and my family has come to expect it from me.

I'm only at the beginning of this fight with cancer. My diagnosis was 9 weeks ago. My surgery was 6 days ago. The incision under my arm still hurts. It is this dull aching pain that just leaves me tired. I just wish he was the nurse for a while.

disneyfan2008
Posts: 5340
Joined: Oct 2010

I so agree...if you don't make his lunch...he will figure it out..they are big boys..right?

I too like most hold the family together...

so sorry you are going through this...but we manage...!

long ago prior to BC I learned to let many things go-I had to and it feels so much better. My house is always clean-but lived in...I used to stay up until 12-1:00am..everthing had to be done..and now...dishes in sink ...they can wait until am for dishwasher etc..

no super mom, super woman...just me...! I feel much better letting things go...never thought in million years i could do it..but little by little did...and loving it

Brooklynchele
Posts: 123
Joined: Sep 2010

Like Heatherbelle, my relationship with my significant (not married but been together since 1997)had some pretty rough patches during my treatment. I think he was frustrated with dealing with someone that was sick all the time. Before my diagnosis we were both fairly independent people but after, I needed to rely on him ALL THE TIME. It was a dynamic change that took some adjusting to.

My relationship with my bff has been steadily deteriorating. We had been friends for about 15 years. She did not come visit me after my first surgery and only came once after my second surgery. Although I never needed her sympathy, I did expect her to act more caring. Over time, I've come to resent her complaining about what now seems to me minor life things (she has a bad headache, she's tired....whatever). Her "normal life complaints" seem so trivial in comparison to what we go through that I have a tough time talking to her most of the time. She didn't understand when I didn't feel well enough to go out for a girls day on the weekends like we used to....those kinds of things.

I don't believe this needs to destroy any relationship but it certainly will challenge all relationships. Having an illness changes the dynamic. But the change can be used to strengthen the good that you already have.

Hugs,
Michele

disneyfan2008
Posts: 5340
Joined: Oct 2010

Happy to hear got through it all with hubby and so sorry about couisn/friend...I HOPE things works out...

Denise

disneyfan2008
Posts: 5340
Joined: Oct 2010

Happy to hear got through it all with hubby and so sorry about couisn/friend...I HOPE things works out...

Denise

Marcia527's picture
Marcia527
Posts: 2731
Joined: Jul 2006

My relationship with my DH remained the same. Everybody's situation is different so they would have different outcomes. Pretty complicated sometimes.

Lynn Smith
Posts: 1265
Joined: Mar 2011

Our Marriage is better.But it took me to say Things must change.I have always been one who was not supported through illness surgeries etc.He just went on with life just the way it was.Never helped me much at all.I came home from my breast surgeries doing things. you know the lumpectomies are easy but for the pain and I take no pain meds. He wasn't giving me any attention and sometimes not backing me if our son and his wife did things to upset me. They had moved in our camper till things got straightened out financially the very day of my lumpectomies. They got on my nerves.I was at the point of no return,

One day I told my husband he must change.He did do a 360 but he still gives other people attention. For 9 months now he has been telling me he love me every day.He and I are totally different.I had to have this with being diagnosed with cancer.Never before I just went along with our life the way it was but now I needed to be loved and felt loved.It is totally different for us.I can't believe it.He never said I love you during our marriage.

It was strange about the whole thing.Just before being diagnosed everyone(doctors nurses etc) were telling me I was pretty.Never got that before but I'm not ugly.Everywhere I went for a year people had no idea I was over 60.Said my eyes are pretty, my hair and just always was complimented.Strange but I must have had a glow through it all.Even though I was hurting inside.It came to me I needed a serious change in my marriage.Now my husband and I are so close,loving and never go by a day without saying "I love you" more than once.He even calls me from work(never did) and tells me he loves me.

I will say my husband has always been faithful but he is a big Flirt.Not according to him but to me and others.Gets to me but hey he is loving now.I came to grips men like that never change.They need attention!!!!!!

24242
Posts: 1417
Joined: Mar 2001

I have to say if there are problems of any kind they can get worse going through something like this unless you resign yourself to what is safe and easier. My partner and I never use to fight and we started to because my partners world was turned upside down and life was nothing like either of us had dreamed. I thought we had it made until cancer and then mortality sets in and then you wonder about one's happiness because now life is truly short.
My mother says that we all have to decide if we are better off with or without them and often times being with them is better in allot of way.
14 years of survival under my belt and relationship still leaves me wondering if I should stay or go. Love changes with time with or without cancer but having to face cancer makes it easier sometimes to sort through the s**t and sometimes being grateful for what you have together can simplify things. I do not get the affection that I need but can't imagine going out there and having to look for someone who cares about the same things after nearly 20 years of partnering. Being depressed and unhappy makes me wonder why I am still here...
Tara

disneyfan2008
Posts: 5340
Joined: Oct 2010

so sorry you feel like this...I wish you peace....and smooth going in your life...

we have been married 25 yrs..the one thing that "CANCER" did was Made me see just how much he is in denial for many things...but this stood out more.

I am not a worrier-but his lack of asking how tests results were etc hurt-he said well you said all good...! But I TOLD HIM no one knows for sure UNTIL THE test results are back.

So I am happy to say that is really the worst that has happened with all this..over past 3 yrs..(next week 3 yrs since surgery)

Denise

CypressCynthia's picture
CypressCynthia
Posts: 3956
Joined: Oct 2009

It is definitely a stressor, but, with good communication and a good spouse, it can make your relationship stronger.  My husband has been with me 39 years, 26 years with cancer diagnosis.  He is such a kind man.  I know it would be so much harder without him.

Chinda's picture
Chinda
Posts: 15
Joined: Sep 2013

My husband and I have been marriaged for 33 years. We had 2 great sons together. On Jun 10th of 2013, my husband file for the divorce. Then I diagnose with breast cancer on Aug. 17th. I had my breasts cancer surgueries done on Sep.11th, 2013. My closed friends thought  that my husband might change his mind about divorcing me after he knew about my breast cancer. Actually, No he still go on with the divorce. I will be fine living with my two great sons in my life.

GSRon's picture
GSRon
Posts: 1220
Joined: Jan 2013

I must chime in here... 30 years ago I lost my Mom to Cancer (not BC).  The Dx came about 2 years before that...  That is when I got big respect for my Dad.  He treated Mom with such tenderness and TLC it was amazing..  He did it all.. the cooking, cleaning, laundry.. took my Mom to the Doctor's, the hospital when needed, etc.  When Mom could not walk, he carried her.. 

 

I was dating a gal when I got my Dx, she ran like the wind.  In all fairness we had only been dating about two months...

Be Well All..!!

Ron

disneyfan2008
Posts: 5340
Joined: Oct 2010

Ron: That is the way it should be..but sadly not the case many times...

Denise

disneyfan2008
Posts: 5340
Joined: Oct 2010

Sorry you had to go through two major things at once-but would you really want to stay with him-if ONLY changed due to your illness? and how long would it last...

Good you have your sons..........

Denise

Chinda's picture
Chinda
Posts: 15
Joined: Sep 2013

Denise,

Thanks you for sharing your thougth with us. I told my closed friends and family members that if he only change his mind because of my illness, I will not take him back in my  life. I might think about return his favor when he get old and sick, I will take great care of him. After marriage  for 33 years, he just told me that he never love me during those time. Well, if I knew that was the case, I would kick him out of my life 19 years ago when he cheated on me with other woman and made kid with her. I forgive him and move on with our lives. I thought no one was perfect in this world and he deserved his second chance. His reason for divorcing me is that he want his freedom to enjoy his last portion of his life to look for his true love. lol  I have done whatever I should have already. I have no regret with my decision. He will move out on Oct. 13th, 2013. I will be fine living with my two wonderful sons who are on my side. :-) life is full with hope.

mollyz's picture
mollyz
Posts: 737
Joined: Sep 2010

I

'm so sorry,this is the time when your suppoed to be loved the  most and you are, you just found a whole lot of love here, and you know God loves you,i feel sorry for your husband cause God don't like ugly lol. welcome to the boards. why you letting his but stay till sunday? he needs to go now lol. that just burns me up, i know your trying to be strong but focus own you and your health right now and let him gooooooooooooooooooooooo,  yes your sons will help you and so are we with all kinds of encouragement.I just want to hug you right now.~~MollyZ~~

iluvbutton
Posts: 8
Joined: Oct 2013

Dear Chinda,

Your husband must be crazy for leaving a gorgeous and kind woman like you. What a selfish reason to leave a marriage! Does he not think he may need help one day as he gets older? Telling you he never loved you is just not true I'm sure. I'm so glad you have two great sons and such a great attitude. Don't give up on love!

Take care,

Anna

disneyfan2008
Posts: 5340
Joined: Oct 2010

I know someone who was going to get divorce and now not since NEEDS the insurance-SAD but you must do what you must do..

Nothing really changed in my marriage-my husband is a great, caring guy-he is not overly compassionate when ill-my daughter was my primary person to change bandages, help with showers. I am not sure why he is like that...I never slow down-I THINK perhaps he is unsure how to react when I am down and out..

Denise

All About Laughter's picture
All About Laughter
Posts: 2
Joined: Sep 2013

I met a terrific guy eight months ago, we are both widowed, his wife to cancer. I was diagnosed in July and he said he would stay by my side. That was, until we found out I would need chemo because it had spread to my lymph nodes. Haven't heard from him since I gave him that news three weeks ago. I am devastated, but I guess I don't want someone who only sees me as "cancerous". 

sandra4611's picture
sandra4611
Posts: 121
Joined: Sep 2013

All About Laughter,

You must be crushed.  Just when you needed him, he disappeared. That really sucks and I wish I could find him and punch him out for you.

Boy, I've learned a lesson about people this year. I've had good friends suddenly stop calling or always have something else planned when I called them. A few others I didn't even know all that well have been amazingly helpful and supportive. Breast cancer is the 3rd life threatening illness I've had in 6 months. Everybody was there for me when I had a brain stem stroke earlier this year and many even hung in there a month later when I was diagnosed with a large anuerysm in the ascending aorta of my heart that will require open heart surgery soon. But by the time breast cancer rolled around. the third time was certainly not the charm! Two friends never came to the hospital or called. I expected them to come over when I got home...it's been 3 weeks and I'm still waiting. The one that broke my heart though was when my very best friend dropped me like a hot rock! What a shock! She was the one who has done Race for the Cure every year. I had been there for her when her daughter died. 

Fortunately i found a wonderful therapist who told me that she sees this kind of thing all the time. Some people get overwhelmed after they've given all they can but you need more. Some others cannot go to a hospital or even be around a sick person. Others have the fear that certain illnesses (cancer?) are catching.  I starting reading a book about how to change your thinking with cognitive behavior therapy. You can't change other people but you CAN change how you react to them.

I hope you have people around you who will support you. We certainly will here.  

 

24242
Posts: 1417
Joined: Mar 2001

A few more years go by and things are simplified even more the older I get.  We both have had to come to terms with the life we have been left with and financial insecurity Globalization has had.  When once we had two good paying jobs with benefits we have learned to live on one with my incomeone third of what it once was...

Though I still work for a good dollar I pay more out just to work...  This has been the hardest thing on our relationship that and trying to keep a house.  Funny now two years since the last post almost and things have come around once again.  Because my partner and I truly respect and love the people we have become that seems to carry us further than anything so far in our lives together.  Funny I stil feel the same way as I did when we met but so much water flows between us.  But when it is said and done we have to be grateful for everything we have when so many have gone before us celebrations of life seems to be the new gathering.

Cancer is hard on us and our relationships but like everything in life it is what we are going to do with the cards we have been given and expanding out coping skill collection will be the ticket out of dispare and to success...

Tara

bcboyfriend
Posts: 4
Joined: Oct 2013

My girl friend was just diagnosed with DCIS. We have been together a year in November. We have been working hard to solve issues we have with each other Like the distance. She lives an hour drive away and we have looked for an inbetween place to live.  It is amazing that what seemed so big two months ago is now so small. We are in our 50's and wanted to do this right because it is both of our 2nd marriages.  I am so dam scared right now. I struggle to keep my practice going but cannot stay focused.  I break into tears at the drop of a hat. Yes and I am a 6'2" 200 lb former Marine. I have to suck it up when I am with her though.  We are two months in and she will have a mastectomy (sic) on the 29th. She had the first biopsy which came back ok. Because it seemed funny she went to a great hospital in Houston and had two more biopsies. Each worse than the first. I am not going anywhere though. She is a brave woman and I am lucky to have her with or without a breast or hair she is still the loveof my life. Sorry to ramble with so much stuff but I need to find a group. Thank you letting me get this out. I am crying now but feel better.  We are meetoing for church and I have to get a handle on things now. Thank you

iluvbutton
Posts: 8
Joined: Oct 2013

You sound like a great man! Stay on this discussion board - everyone is great and VERY helpful. Your girlfriend should join too!

You'll be in my thoughts on the 29th...

Best of luck,

Anna

 

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