spouse reacting strangely

lisa943
lisa943 Member Posts: 2
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
my mom was diagnosed with a recurrance of her breast cancer this spring. she's in the middle of her chemo therapy, then she'll do several weeks of radiation. she's on medical leave throughout the summer and into fall. for the most part, she's reacting quite well to the situation all around, however she's become forgetful and occassionally confused (she believes it's "chemo brain", combined with the added stress of her brother dying of cancer and she's helping to manage is situation). my father is being less than sympathetic. he retired at the end of June, so he's home with her and able to help with things around the house, accompany her to medical appts, etc. however, he's been ridiculing her for her forgetfullness ("why are you doing this?" "how could you forget that?" "what's the matter with you?", etc.), and even at times is all-out cruel, for example he left her stranded and nearly hysterical at the grocery store when she accidentally left the keys in the ignition with the engine running (he walked 3 miles to home) and left her at her chemo appt and made her take the bus home (two bus transfers and more than an hour plus ride home) because he was fed up with the traffic. he's never been a pillar of maturity, but i really don't understand how he can be so entirely unsympathetic and mean. i'm wondering if anyone out there has any recommendations for books that might be helpful for him to read or resources for him. it's highly unlikely that he'd seek out counseling or group meetings.

Comments

  • 24242
    24242 Member Posts: 1,398
    I have to say 10 years out of cancer I still I have to defend my abilities or lack of them to my spouce and it gets tiring having to remind them all I have been through and how lucky I am to be where I am even if I can't remember a frigin thing. They call that KRAFT where I come from and some are enduced with it because of side effects from all sorts of things.
    I believe sometimes this thought process comes for this desire for things to return to normal and some people rely on that normalicy to survive and cope through life. Ego does amazing things to people and the best book I have ever read is that New Earth book that Oprah recommends for it helps to understand other's thought processes something I have struggled with for sometime. Love does not make the world go round and often is the thing we can least count on...
    Hope that you can get it through to him that his support is what will make all the difference in the world to how your mother copes with all she is faced with...
    Your mother has you and that can often be enough knowing that you are there for her.
    Be good to yourself always,
    Tara
  • chenheart
    chenheart Member Posts: 5,159
    It does not happen to me very often, but I am almost speechless. I saw your subject title, and thought I was going to launch into my usual but true statement about men being fixers, and women nurturers, and how it is hard for men when they can't fix our cancer....

    This is by all means true, and may be in part of what is happening in your mom's case, but this is extreme, and may I be so out of line and say CRUEL. My father in law reacted much the same way when his wife of 50 years was dx with early stage dementia. His loving ways turned mean and selfish. I honestly think it was because he was afraid, and the fear of losing his wife to dementia devastated him.

    I have a suspicion that this may in part be what is happening in your dad's case. He may reason that if he leaves her to her own devices, she will have to rise to the occasion, so to speak. She will then not be dependent on him for this unspeakable cancer, and their life can get back to normal. I do not know that this is happening, but it certainly seems so to me. It just smacks of extreme reaction to wanting things the way they were, not the way they are.

    I don't know of any books. Is your dad the type of man who would read a self-help book anyway? I ask, as you said he would not be likely to go to group or seek answers or support.

    Perhaps the rest of this amazing group of survivors will have more insight than I. They are a brilliant group, and you will get some wonderful encouragement and advice.

    Hug your mom for us. I am so sorry any of you are having to go through this difficult time. I wish all of you health, and a peaceful resolve to this turmoil.

    Hugs,
    Claudia
  • cabbott
    cabbott Member Posts: 1,039 Member
    People that don't want to change aren't going to change. Your mom will need support, but it doesn't look like it will be him from what you are describing. Maybe he is being "mean" because he is afraid or maybe it is just the way he is. Either way, he isn't there for her right now and I doubt he would read a book. There are a few out there for supporting your wife through breast cancer, but he would go buy it himself if he were interested in reading it. He hasn't, has he? Instead, help her write out a list of friends and relatives she can call when needed for various things (getting stranded, going to appointments, picking up stuff from the pharmacy, and so forth). Some churches have volunteers that can help her with going to regular appointments. The hospital social worker may have other leads. I have seen unsupportive spouses. Asking them to do what they aren't able to do or simply refuse to do doesn't work too well. Better to accept their limitations and work around them as best as possible or you will be banging your head against the wall in continuing frustration. I honestly hope he is safe to be with because you are describing someone who is certainly less than empathetic and potentially abusive. That worries me. I'm glad you are there for her. Please encourage her to call you if she needs to.
  • RE
    RE Member Posts: 4,591 Member
    Hello Lisa,

    I am concerned with your Mom being stranded, especially after chemo and especially as treatments go on. As she continues to take chemo her immune system will be less able to fight off illness and she certainly should not be on public transportation near a lot of folks who may have colds and such. The American Cancer Society sometimes has volunteers who may be willing to take and/or pick up your mom from her appt. At the least she should have cab fare in her pocket so she is empowered to get her own ride should she be abandoned. Please encourage her to contact them to see what they can do or perhaps you could contact them for her. Many hugs to you and she as you deal with such a difficult situation

    RE
  • chenheart
    chenheart Member Posts: 5,159
    RE said:

    Hello Lisa,

    I am concerned with your Mom being stranded, especially after chemo and especially as treatments go on. As she continues to take chemo her immune system will be less able to fight off illness and she certainly should not be on public transportation near a lot of folks who may have colds and such. The American Cancer Society sometimes has volunteers who may be willing to take and/or pick up your mom from her appt. At the least she should have cab fare in her pocket so she is empowered to get her own ride should she be abandoned. Please encourage her to contact them to see what they can do or perhaps you could contact them for her. Many hugs to you and she as you deal with such a difficult situation

    RE

    Great Post, RE! I don't know why I didn't think of that! I used the volunteer rides during radiation, and they were fabulous! It is called Road To Recovery, and these are wonderful people! I believe that part of the monies collected at the annual ACS Relay For Life goes to supporting this service. Aside from that, my cancer center had their own volunteer drivers, so good resources were indeed available. Add to that friends, good hearted neighbors, family members, church members, etc~ and perhaps Dad doesn't need to be involved in this phase of Mom's treatment at all! Again, GREAT suggestion RE!

    Hugs,
    Claudia
  • mgm42
    mgm42 Member Posts: 491 Member
    I agree with the other two women - your mom needs all the support she can get and Dad is not the one to do it - so seek help elsewhere. Marilynn
  • Joycelouise
    Joycelouise Member Posts: 482
    C is such a beast! Not only does it have the obvious problems, but all these other effects on family and loved ones. What the other women have written is wise. I want to say one thing a little different. There is another relationship that seems to be imperiled, and that is yours with your father. The two of you need each other during this time also. Being dissapointed with him is tough on you too. I imagine that one of the best ways for him to learn how to help your mother would be from you, but this is just too hard for us as children sometimes to have to be more mature than our parents, especially when we are hurting too. I don't have any answers, just wanted to offer some understanding of how difficult the situation must be for you. AND to tell you that you are a wonderful daughter! A fabulous person! Please be loving to yourself and take care of yourself too. hugs, Joyce
  • lisa943
    lisa943 Member Posts: 2
    Thank you. Your responses are all so supportive and informative. My sister and I will just have to make sure that our mom knows she can call on us when she needs to without the fear that we'll be judging our father's behavior. I hadn't thought about the suppressed immune system / public transportation situation and I'm glad RE mentioned it. My mom hadn't considered it either. Thank you, everyone.
  • sept30jk
    sept30jk Member Posts: 6
    I am so sorry that your father is not there for your mother. But I am proud of you and your sister to be there for your mother.
    Children are a special gift from God and your mother has two special gifts.
    Many, Many Blessings and Hugs........Joyce K
  • cabbott
    cabbott Member Posts: 1,039 Member
    lisa943 said:

    Thank you. Your responses are all so supportive and informative. My sister and I will just have to make sure that our mom knows she can call on us when she needs to without the fear that we'll be judging our father's behavior. I hadn't thought about the suppressed immune system / public transportation situation and I'm glad RE mentioned it. My mom hadn't considered it either. Thank you, everyone.

    Lisa, it crossed my mind yesterday that sometimes mean, thoughtless behavior that doesn't make sense can mean that the individual is having some illness problems(physcial problems not just poor social skills). I know we are all about breast cancer here, but keep an eye on your dad and contact his doctor if things worsen. Brain differences, depression, chemical imbalances of all sorts, even brain tumors or early stage Alzheimers can cause some pretty ugly behaviors. I don't want to point these things out to worry you more as you have enough on your plate taking care of your mom. But if his behavior doesn't make sense to you and continues to get worse, HE may need help too. You may want to consult his doctor if it looks like he needs help. He doesn't sound like the sort to go to the doctor for help on his own.
  • Skybuf
    Skybuf Member Posts: 143
    Gee lisa....your Dad sounds a lot like my husband during my treatments. He just couldn't be there for me. He was in some sort of denial I think, my own daughter went to my dr and asked him if I had alzheimers!!!! due to the fact I wasn't remembering things and lost my balance and just couldn't converse like I used to..the doctor told her "your Mother does NOT have alzheimers" with the medications she's on for high bp and cholesterol, cancer drugs (chemo) and Arimidex and pain meds....what did she expect!
    He even wrote me a note to give to her to read stating those facts....he said after the treatments and drugs were lessened my memory would return as well as better health. I am finished all the treatments now, I take less drugs, only when needed for sore feet. I am sleeping better now and doing well.
    We do get what's called "chemo brain" but it's temporary. Your Mom will be better too when she's finished her chemo and rads....the ladies have given excellent advise....there is help out there, you just need to source it out.
    May God bless you as a family, and tell Dad to lay off!!!! for me :)
  • Eil4186
    Eil4186 Member Posts: 949
    Lisa, I too was very sad and even a little angry while reading about your Dad's behavior. But Claudia's theory about your Dad wanting things to be back to normal really does make sense. Although in my humble opinion it still does not excuse him. I remember how much it meant to me when I was going through chemo to know that either my sister or husband(usually both) would be there with me every single minute. Even cousins and friends offered to come with me. That feeling of support is incredibly inportant. My heart breaks for your Mom. But thank God she has your support. You are a wonderful daughter. Perhaps your Dad will come around in time. But in the meantime, RE's idea about the rides to treatment is fabulous. In fact there is a flyer hanging on the bulletin board at my gym currently asking for volunteers to drive cancer patients to and from doctor and treatment appointments. So, definitely give them a call. Keep us posted on your Mom's progress and take care. Eileen.
  • jmears
    jmears Member Posts: 266
    Sounds like your whole family is having a tough time. Your father is probably disappointed that his retirement is not what he expected ... that aside it does sound like he needs some help coping with your mother. And I have had Chemo brain and radiation brain and I have not been that forgetful. I think you should have your mother checked for other things that my be causing the forgetfulness. It could be the stress she is going through herself. Often times spouses have really hard times when one gets sick and needs extra help. If they have friends and or more family you may need to call on them to help out until things settle down. Sounds like they have had two major life changes (cancer and retirement)in just a few months. How long ago was you mother first diagnosed with cancer? Your father might be very scared and is showing it a very difference way than we would. Very best of luck ...and take care of yourself too!!! Jamie
  • hward2007
    hward2007 Member Posts: 62
    You don't know me yet, but hello! My suggestion is turn to the church get counseling RIGHT AWAY!!!! My marriage hit the rocks and my husband reacted about the same way.. but he was going thru cancer just like me and on a daily basice for that long it becoumes frustration for the spouse, but it's not offten any one patts them on the back or offeres support so eventually the spouse will act out in any way to get attention and say "Hey Iam hurting also" just something to think about..
    Heather the Nut
  • Mary a
    Mary a Member Posts: 1
    husband reacting strangly
    Lisa,This is my first post. I am not a very good typer so please bear with me.
    I had my surgery 11 years ago. my husband has been wonderful from the first. so I really can't relate to your problem. except to say love your mom more than ever. also your dad. sounds like he needs you also. he must be pretty miserable. take care of your self.
    Mary a
  • jcajc5
    jcajc5 Member Posts: 9
    Spouce reacting strangly
    When I was going through my chemo, my husband acted badly.I belive they just don"t know how express there feelings, and they feel powerless over the situation.Maybe they blam themselves.Men do not express themselves like women do.I would just give him his space amd hope he changes his attitude, and let him know this is not about him,it"s about her.my husband needed a break away from every thing so he went to a friends house for a cuple of hours,when he came home he was in a better mood.He had been feeling overwelmed. Maybe he just needs a little break.Hope you the best!!Good Luck !!! 8)