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Has anyone dealt with violence from a cancer patient?

Posts: 3
Joined: Sep 2009

My boyfriend was diagnosed in 04 with both stomach and liver cancer. He'd been hospitalized for a year as a child because of an accident and did not want any more hospitalizations, didn't want to see doctors, etc. Since he was a 40-year adult, it was his decision and those of us around him respected it (even though we always hoped he would change his mind). He liked to party with friends, and that is what he wanted to do until his time came. He wanted to enjoy life.

For almost 4 years, he showed no symptoms at all. Suddenly in summer of 08, he became physically violent towards me, without provocation. For example, he once asked what time I was leaving for work and when I told him, he sprung from the couch, grabbed me by the neck and flung me to the floor. Other symptoms were cropping up such as yellowing of the skin and digestive problems. I wanted him to see a doctor at this time and really pushed the issue. I felt there must be some kind of medication/sedative he could take, as well as stomach meds that would help him, but he flatly refused to see a dr. or go to the hospital. Because I was in physical danger, I had no choice but to move out. We had lengthy discussions about this subject but he only got violet, broke things, etc. It was not an easy choice but I felt the cancer was taking over and without medication, things could not improve. It was a gut-wrenching decision but I was in counseling and everyone felt I was in imminent danger and needed to leave, if he was not going to get medical attention.

He returned to his home state in the fall of 08 and within a few months, was bedridden. He did not react this way to the people he lived with who were old friends (not family). I know he had some heated verbal fights with some family members but to my knowledge not physical.

Has anyone ever experienced this? I've tried to talking to some support lines but no one seems to know if this can be a side effect of cancer or not. They only speak of "emotional changes." I truly feel it was the cancer. He was not violent in the 6 years we were together. He was kind, always willing to help people, etc. I don't know how else to explain this behavior.

God bless.

Posts: 6
Joined: Jan 2010

I don't know if that could be a symptom of cancer or not, but one thought that occurred to me was that if by that point the cancer had spread, specifically to his brain, it could have been pushing on some part of the brain that controls his social responses. Of course, I'm not a doctor so that is just hypothetical thinking on my part.
However, it's not your fault. Cancer is an emotional rollercoaster, and your boyfriend was probably going through several emotions, especially since he had decided to not get treatment. He could have lashed out due to physical changes within his body, or emotional changes he was going through, and the violence he expressed could have been his way to cope with things.
I think you did the right thing by taking yourself out of the environment, since you were, as you said, in danger. Hopefully with time things will get easier for you, even if you never figure out what provoked the violence. Try to focus on the good memories you had together, and when you are ready, I suppose move on....

Irishgypsie's picture
Posts: 333
Joined: May 2010

Hi, I'm know expert but maybe he felt guilty about the cancer and didn't want to bring you down with it. Maybe he wanted to push you away so you wouldn't have to see him when he got really sick! Not sure, but just a thought! Sometimes we push the ones we love away to protect them! Best of luck! God Bless!


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