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Fiance's 2nd diagnosis - I'm so overwhelmed, lost and lonely

Purity
Posts: 6
Joined: Aug 2012

Life has changed so fast.

How do I keep up w/everything?

Last week my fiance of one month was diagnosised w/cancer for the second time.

Six yrs ago he had Hodgkin's Lymphoma and two months ago was told he was cancer free at his 6 yr. check-up.

Then I saw a mole on his neck and nudged him to get it checked. The biopsy came back - he has Melanoma.

I work in healthcare (marketing) and my family has a medical background and several severe medical cases so I jumped into action mode.

Within 1 hr. of receiving the news at work I went to our local cancer resource center.

Within 12 hrs. I attended a seminar on being your own healthcare advocate.

Within 48 hrs. we had a our first consultation scheduled (two more were scheduled by the end of the week)

Within 72 hrs. we met w/our priest for support.

The rest of the week was filled w/researching, organizing files, finding other docs, my job, wedding planning, doc appts., being there for him (grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning etc.) and bouncing between my apartment and his house (45min drive).

My world is completely upside down.

I keep crying. Not around him of course. In the car, the only place where I have a moment to breathe.

I feel so alone despite reaching out for help.

I don't like the intense mood swings both for him or me. Our 1.5 yr. relationship has always been serene and happy. Now there is awkward tension and distance between us.

Since this is his second time w/cancer he is coping ok. I however, can't seem to get it together.

We're young (he's 31 and I'm 30) and I want things to improve so that we can have a happy life. Right now I'm lost on how to make this a reality :/

Will life slow down again?
What can I do to improve our communication and relationship when he shuts down?
Where or how do I get help for the grief I feel due to our month of wedding bliss ending so abruptly and our relatioship forever being changed?

Thanks for any insights. I have a support team but they aren't cancer specialists so I feel lost.

Noellesmom
Posts: 1279
Joined: Aug 2010

Purity, it's only been a week since the diagnosis. It takes time for each of you individually to process the information: it will take time for you to determine as a couple how you will go forward both medically and emotionally.

Breathe, breathe, breathe.

It sounds like medically you are taking the right steps: you've got to give yourselves time to adjust emotionally. I know this is a serious cancer. You are right to act quickly.

You want it fixed and you want it fixed now. You want to return to the ignorant bliss you were experiencing but know that's not possible.

You will make your peace and accept that it is good this was found and that there will be a "new normal" and that will be okay.

Others with more experience will come forward, Purity, and give you good advice. Find someone to talk, talk, talk with and come back here often.

Hugs. I know this is hard.

Purity
Posts: 6
Joined: Aug 2012

Noellesmom - Thank you for articulating what I've been experiencing - the need to fix it and not understanding our "new normal". I didn't realize that this was apart of my stress and you hit the nail on the head. Breathing is good and reminds me to slow down (which is tough to do w/work pressures + doc appts. + life + wedding planning) and if I can find 5min a day to just breathe that might be good.

Moving forward as a couple is so tough - I'm really struggling w/this.

On the one hand he seems to be becoming more dependent - trusting that I'll manage the doc appts., paperwork, etc., waiting for me to cook dinner, saying that he'll do whatever I recommend esp. w/nutrition and wellness related things (part of my professional experience).

On the other hand he has turned to his buddies for emotional support, which I know is good for him, and I really miss us.

I don't have all of the answers, which I know is normal, but I feel like I should (or at least find them asap). I really wish there were more than 24hrs in a day to manage everything :/

grandmafay's picture
grandmafay
Posts: 1612
Joined: Aug 2009

Life never stays the same. You will go through many changes. Cancer is a biggiie. It's scary. This was not in the plan. My husband was dx with colon cancer, stage 4, on our 36th wedding anniversary, and the phrase that kept repeating in my head was, "We were supposed to grow old together." Cancer was never a part of the plan, but neither were a lot of other things that happened during our marriage. Life happens and we have to deal with it. It sounds like you have been doing that with your head, and you are doing all the right things. Now is the time to realize that you cannot control everything. H e needs time to deal with this reality both mentally and physically. You both do. Even though he may seem to be coping, getting cancer a second time is very hard. I remember when my husband was told of the first reoccurrence. That was the hardest. Getting a different type of cancer after seemingly defeating the other has got to be even tougher. You're right.. Everything has changed and the way you deal with this as a couple is crucial. If you have a long, happy marriage, which is what I wish for you, there will be many bumps in the road. Couples counseling may be something you might benefit from. Right now, just take one step at a time. Admit to yourself and your fiancé that you are facing something you have little control over. Oh, how we Americans like to be in control. It doesn't always work that way. Hang in there. Fay

Purity
Posts: 6
Joined: Aug 2012

Aren't "supposed to's" tough?

The diagoses bring to the surface so many unspoke expectations.

I feel like I'm supposed to be excited and joyful about planning for our wedding but really, it all feels like heavy work. We're supposed to be laughing, smiling over dreams of our future, and throwing caution to the wind as we enjoy our youth (within reason of course).

Now our laughter is stilted, our dreams are revolving around what we can do to ensure he is healthy for our possible family, and our choices are dampered by what is best for his body and health.

Feeling so restrained is painful.

Life has thrown me many curveballs so I know that I can't control this and God is in the driver's seat. Thankfully God and I are close so I know I can trust Him and he will guide me as I do the necessary work. But you're right, I do think that if the house is clean enough, the food is organic enough, the docs qualified enough and our relationship happy enough then everything will be easier.

Just writing that makes me realize that I need to let that control go -

there's no such thing as perfect - just perfectly imperfect.

Thank you for reminding me that flexibility in the plan of life is for the best.

grandmafay's picture
grandmafay
Posts: 1612
Joined: Aug 2009

One of my husband's favorite sayings was, "Let it go, dear, just let it go." I still hear him saying that to me at times. Cancer helps us put things in prespective. Let go and let God sounds good, but we sure have a tough time doing that at times. One of our pastors told me that if I really wanted to make God laugh, I could tell Him my plans. Take care. Hugs and prayers, Fay

Purity
Posts: 6
Joined: Aug 2012

It's true that letting go is necessary if I am to reorient myself. I just didn't realize that I was hanging on to so much.

Over the last six months I've gone through some big changes - started a new job, downsized and moved to a new home.

During both changes I had to let go of a lot - familiarity, security, family memories. The changes were painful but I let go, trusted God and looked forward to settling down and catching my breath after the whirlwind of change.

Then came the proposal and the happy whirlwind of wedding planning.

Now cancer for the second time, moving again and trying to find a new job closer to home.

I'm trying to see all of this as a life makeover. I just did't know that God thought that I needed it so extensively :/

As scary as it is the new perspective that results from a cancer diagnosis is good. It has become very easy to discern what is meaningful in life and now I want my life to have more meaning. I'm just not sure how to make that happen atm.

Maybe the first step is releasing my new fears? I can't control the docs (esp. the snarky ones), Jason's attitude or choices, the outcome of the surgery, our future.

Is there any tangible thing that I can control? I know people say that you can control your attitude but I don't want to pretend to be all rainbows and sunshine when that isn't the truth.

grandmafay's picture
grandmafay
Posts: 1612
Joined: Aug 2009

We seem to be having a dialogue here. If you ever want to PM me, feel free. Belive it or not, i dont come here as often as i used to do so. I get an email if I'm PMed, though.

I think it is more of an acceptance rather than a need to pretend. I got really tired of hearing people tell me that I had to stay positive. In our case, we knew that Doug was just buying time. Admitting that to ourselves and others was positive. It allowed us to concentrate on the now and celebrate whatever time we had. That wasn't always easy. We weren't all smiles all the time. Hence people telling me to say positive. One thing that helped me was remembering the "Footprints" story. You know the one where Jesus tells the person that ther was time when he carried the person. Some days when things got really tough, I would literally tell God that I just couldn't carry my own fear, sadness, worry, whatever that day. I told him I'd pick it up tomorrow, but I couldn't do it right then. It helped me. No, we don't have to pretend that everything is hunky dory when it's not. I think we just have to remember that we aren't in control. Trust in that higher power to help us through, and hold tight to the things that really matter. Change is hard. We often grieve for the life we planned, but have to accept the life we are given. Cancer is a tough one. One of those character building things. I, too, thought my character was just fine the way it was BC (before cancer touched our lives). Guess I was wrong. Take care, Fay

Purity
Posts: 6
Joined: Aug 2012

Today I realized that I've been crying every day for the last 3 weeks. I can't concentrate, can't get anything done at work, can't sleep, can't remember what day it is, don't want to eat and have only been able to barely keep things together just enough to help Jason.

This afternoon I called a counselor at the local cancer support center. I feel embarrassed at needing help and not being 100% but I don't know what else to do. I can barely function. I don't know if seeing a cancer counselor will help but maybe it will make a difference.

Noellesmom
Posts: 1279
Joined: Aug 2010

Is very important, Purity. Also seeing your doctor, explaining what is going on so you can get something along the lines of an anti-anxiety drug to help take the edge off is also a good idea.

This is a unique-to-you, impossible to prepare for experience, Purity. Crying every day - normal. Having a hard time functioning - normal.

But you need some real sleep, to talk to someone and be assured that anything and everything you are feeling is normal.

I hope Jason gets better and does well for many, many years. But I want you to understand that is critical you take care of yourself, Purity - you can't help others with their oxygen mask unless yours is on your face.

Thinking of you.

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