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Spousal Support

Dogbert95
Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2011

I don't know if it's just me, or if what I'm sensing is real.
I have RCC. Thankfully, it's stage 1, we hope. (no biopsy yet). I'm scheduled for a LPN next month.

The problem is my wife and our relationship.

This week, I took a pre-op stress test, and the EKG showed abnormalities. So, they did a angiogram, and thankfully found that there were no blockages that required immediate treatment. However, because of the angiogram, I'm now not able to lift heavy items, and do heavier labor, so my wife had to do more than she's used to. We have an 8 month old, and I believe I've been doing quite a bit before this to help out around the house, while being also the only income earner, so you can imagine it's not easy for me either. (I cook most of the meals after I come home from work, I give half the baths to the baby, etc).

Because I'm slightly incapacitated, my wife is giving me the cold shoulder. It is not so straight forward. Her dad passed 11 years ago from a rare disease and needed care. Her mom has stage IV lung cancer. And she started complaining to me that I have to let her be the jerk she's being because of her past and having seen her mom be the caregiver for her dad while he was sick.

While I understand the tragedies that have befallen her during her life, I don't fully buy it. It's not like suddenly she's doing all the work herself! I'm still trying to do what I can. And it's not like I can't take care of myself as needed. All she's added was extra baby work, for the stuff I can't do temporarily. (like lift him - to give baths and what not). And of course, this isn't exactly the support I need from my wife. I don't need cold shoulders. I don't need the silent treatment. I don't need her telling me how it's harder on her than it is on me, when I have the hole in my side from the angio, and will have a few more from the LPN next month. I also know, if I treated her mom during her struggles with cancer, it'd be UNFORGIVEABLE, but she does it to me.

It's only been 1 day since the angiogram, and I feel like she's showing her true self and is not able to give me support, because she can't hack it. To the point, I have serious concerns this relationship won't work anymore. At this point, I really don't want her with me at the surgery, and I'd rather just deal with this myself with my parents and siblings... without her.

Am I being unreasonable? Is she being reasonable? Anyone else have similar experiences they can share and what this means, if anything, or it's just one of those things that naturally happen to families with cancer?

Thanks for your ears/eyes.

forme's picture
forme
Posts: 1151
Joined: Aug 2010

Hi Dogbert,

I am so sorry that you are having such struggles right now. It seems to me that your wife is under a lot of stress. As are you.. New baby, sick mom and now husband. My feeling is ,that your wife is very scared. So she is acting out in anger, cold shoulder etc. She most likely feels helpless and frustrated. Plus having a new baby is a huge stress factor all by its self. Please include her when you have your surgery. if you leave her out, she will feel hurt and you don't need that added to your stress.
Cancer is very hard on everyone. I have adult children and it's very hard on them. You are not alone and there are so many here to help.
Like you said, it's only been one day. Give her and yourself time to adjust. nothing happens in a day.
wishing you all good luck for your surgery..

luz del lago's picture
luz del lago
Posts: 452
Joined: Jul 2010

First, I am so sorry that you, your wife, and your baby have to face this. Cancer can be so cruel!

I agree, she is sooo scared! I knew it was not my husband's desire or fault to have gotten cancer, yet my fear sometimes came across as anger, indifference, and frustration.

Tell her you know how difficult this is for her. Thank her for all she does. And most of all, love her and your baby each and every day! Tell her you need her. Not in the way of "doing" for you, but in "being there for you".

My beloved husband always told me how much he loved me, how much he needed me, and that without me he couldn't do it.

I know you are worried, you are trying your best. And you must do everything you can to be there for your child and for your wife. Some days it will be difficult, let her know it is one of those days. Tell her how much you want tomorrow to be better.

You'll see, she will begin to get it. Right now, she feels like a victim, and with good cause. But your love will let her see that this is life, you are trying with all your might. She may begin to see that she needs to be there for you. Encourage her to take a little time for herself, be it a manicure or an evening out with girlfriends. If you have to, ask family or a friend to come over and help with the baby.

And most importantly, make time for just the two of you! Have a date night! It will do both of you a world of good.

Sending my prayers and best wishes to you,

Lucy

Dogbert95
Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2011

Thanks forme and Lucy.

Yes, I know she's scared. I have tried to tell her I understand how scared she is, but she usually cops the attitude "no you don't, you haven' been through what I have". That's how she's always been when it came to cancer and rare diseases. This cancer has become about her in her mind and how it'll affect her and how when I can't lift a hand to help with housework (even though I do my fair share of it), it becomes an unfair burden to her. She doesn't even acknowledge anymore that I have the actual tumor.

I'm trying to be patient, but am starting to not have any left. But I'll keep trying.

I've known about the cancer since end of Feb, not one day. (the one day was just since the good news on the angiogram for the stress test, and now I can't lift the baby or help with heavier duties). I didn't tell her until mid/late March - after I found out it was contained in the one kidney so she wouldn't need to go through the uncertainty I did when no one knew if it'd meta'd. I'm scheduled for RALPN next week at USC.

Thanks all... this is a really good network.

luz del lago's picture
luz del lago
Posts: 452
Joined: Jul 2010

Dear One,

That being said, I have not lost sight of the fact that YOU are the one with the cancer. You are the one that must endure tests, treatments and all they throw at you to make you better!

It appears that you are doing your best to calm and soothe your wife. There may come a time, soon, that a "cancer" counselor should be contacted, for both of you. Sometimes when one is so afraid, seeing the big picture is a difficult task. She may do well by sharing her fears, her angers, with a neutral person. She may begin to see that it adds stress and heartache to what you are already dealing with, when she says the things she says to you.

I am certainly not suggesting this for you both, but many times I have seen, even on this web site, that some people just can't do it. And it becomes apparent that it is best, especially for the cancer survivor, to not have the negativity and strife in the time when they are fighting for their lives.

It worries me that you are not making her a part of everything, in regards to your diagnosis', this may be causing hurt also. She needs to "step up to the plate" as they say, but if you are not open and forthcoming with her, it may become even yet a new issue.

Don't go this alone. You do need her, and she you! I was always with my husband when he visited the doctor, when he had chemo, when he had scans, when anything was said or done. It made me feel part of his "team". And thus, I fought as hard for him, I knew how he was doing, I knew what he needed. It made me feel needed, and that I made a difference to his well-being.

And as always, come here. Let us know how you are doing. This "family" understands what you are going through. Encourage your wife to sign up and come here to. There is so much kindness and concern. She may benefit from sharing with us. No one is right, no one is wrong. It is what it is, and you both will see and feel the compassion that can be found here!

Take care,

Lucy

LeeandShirley's picture
LeeandShirley
Posts: 122
Joined: Apr 2011

A cancer diagnosis is a crisis of a sort. And different people react differently to this crisis. These unusual "cold shoulder" reactions, can lead to hurt feelings and resentment, in the best of situations, no less in a health crisis. She may be too weak, (from the previous pain), to handle this. Or she may be in denial that she will have to deal with this again. Try not put blame on her. Get professional help, to get you both through this, as a couple dealing with cancer.

grandmafay's picture
grandmafay
Posts: 1597
Joined: Aug 2009

Marriage counseling sounds like a good first step. Your emotions are high and both of you probably need a third person to help you sort all these feelings out. You wife is scared and is trying to protect herself. You are angry at the disease as well as your wife. Losing you is probably you wife's greatest fear. My husband often told me that he thought my job as caregiver was harder than his as patient. I don't necessarily think that is true, but I can tell you that it is a tough job. A new baby and a sick mother, a sick husband! She has got to feel an incredible amount of stress. You are feeling that stress, too. Yes, you are the patient, but cancer strikes the whole family. It really isn't any more all about you than it is all about her. Get some help. You have a child to think about. Don't write her off. Find a way to talk about it. She may be a little angry that you kept some important information from her and didn't share your concerns earlier. I know I would be. You need to be honest with each other. Talk about your concerns. Best of luck, Fay

grandmafay's picture
grandmafay
Posts: 1597
Joined: Aug 2009

It wasn't that good the first time. You certainly don't need to read it twice!

grandmafay's picture
grandmafay
Posts: 1597
Joined: Aug 2009

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