My wife is pushing me away
She was diagnosed with aggressive stage 2, Her2+, double negative (hormone, which isn’t apparently common) breast cancer, in Jan of ‘23.
In the beginning, it was “us” and “our fight”, but has changed. After her 3rd chemo treatment, “Hell Week” was exceptionally brutal. A few days after treatment, admittedly, I was trying hard to get her to drink fluids, make sure she was taking meds, etc and she blew up. She said that I didn’t understand and that this wasn’t about me and that I needed to back off. This was her fight and I needed to back off.
Normally, I’m a bit sensitive and when she gets angry, I tend to shut down. Rarely, I’ll retreat and just avoid her and let her settle down or if I don’t retreat, I will just shut down in that, I won’t say anything. I will go to great lengths to not fight/argue with my wife on a normal basis.
Knowing that she would be going through so much, mentally, physically and emotionally, I made a promise to myself that I would not do that and that I wouldn’t take her blow ups personally. That I would listen, offer whatever support she would accept and continue to be mindful that she needed me there, physically, emotionally, conversationally and many other ways.
Her first anger moment came days before her port was placed and I stood firm. I let her vent and said nothing. I made no offers of reasoning, no “male” standard of trying to “fix” the problem, I simply listened. I hugged her and told her I couldn’t begin to imagine what she was going through but that I would be by her side. While this didn’t do much, I hope it showed her that I was serious about doing whatever I had to, to support her and be there by her side.
The next came a few days before her first treatment. I don’t recall what exactly it was that upset her, I did the same thing, with the same results.
Shortly after her second treatment, she was having a difficult time taking her pills. Everything she would put in her mouth made her nauseous. She already has an incredibly difficult time taking pills on a normal basis so I can’t begin to imagine how this only amplified that. I asked if she would want to try crushing the meds and mixing them with pudding/jello/etc. She frustratedly said she just wanted to take it with water (I was pretty proud of myself for keeping my mouth shut about how they might taste). I crushed them up, brought the dust concoction and water and was not prepared for the explosion that occurred.
She got that first round into her mouth as quickly as possible and immediately the fireworks began. She was pissed and I was the target. I took it like a champ, outwardly and let her vent her anger and frustration. I apologized and said I was only trying to help to which she responded she didn’t need my help. She told me that she was an adult and that she would figure out what she needed to do, going forward where her meds were her business and that I needed to “back off”. I lied and told her I understood and that I would do whatever it was she needed me to do.
I spent about 30 minutes in the hall bathroom in tears after she went to sleep, feeling helpless as I knew she was miserable and there was absolutely nothing I could do.
Then came treatment #3. I had began to pick up the pattern: Friday is treatment and for the most part, it is “normal” with maybe a bit of fatigue but business as usual. Saturday tends to be pretty “normal” as well with the fatigue setting in early in the evening but that’s about it. Sunday mornings are good, appetite, wanting to get out of the house and do whatever so long as it doesn’t involve being cooped inside. By about 4 or 5:00 the fatigue sets in along with signs of slight stomach cramps, headaches, etc and that’s when we head home and start to prepare. She eats and drinks what she can and the aches tend to start in the mid evening.
By the time Monday rolls around, if she’s awake before noon, it’s a miracle and this particular Monday after the 3rd treatment it was closer to 2 and I could tell right away that she was in bad shape and felt pretty confident, this was going to be the worst yet (and I was right). She was beyond miserable. This was her first really full blown experience with the nausea as well as the full on body aches. Top it off with major cramping and diarrhea.
This was where I began the mistakes. I urged her to take small sips of water often, I offered her broth, tea, popsicles, everything I could think to keep fluids moving but she declined. She continually voiced concerns about hating the diarrhea and the nausea. I asked if she had taken anything (meds wise) for it yet and she hadn’t. This went on all day.
Later in the evening, I mentioned that she hadn’t taken in anywhere near even 8 oz of liquid and that she had medication that could help ease the obvious misery she was in and that was all it took. She blew up, as best as someone who had almost no energy could and made it clear, that she didn’t need a babysitter or anyone tracking her every movement. She said I didn’t understand what she was feeling or what she was going through and of course said some very hurtful things. She ended with telling me that she didn’t need my help at all and, going forward, this was her fight and I was to keep my opinions, suggestions and anything else regarding her diagnosis and treatment to myself. This was a gut punch I was not prepared for but I kept my composure. I told her I understood, I didn’t/don’t and I sat next to her and attempted to comfort her to which I was met with a cold shoulder and shrugged away. Outwardly, I didn’t show the devastation, hurt or frustration and simply said that I would honor her decision and that if she needed anything from me to please let me know.
All week, she barely moved. I would take mental note of what her glass looked like (how much was in it) as well as monitor the kitchen for dishes, packaging for signs of nourishment, etc. there was almost none. Maybe a dozen popsicle wrappers, but nothing else. I did note a can of soup that had been opened and cooked and when I asked if that helped her feel a little better she said she was able to stand one spoonful of the juice. Her water glass, at one point did not move for three days. During this time I also was able to determine she hadn’t taken ANY of her meds (minus two anti diarrhea pills and three anti nausea meds) but not even the daily meds she was supposed to be taking for almost two weeks!
On Wednesday, she had to be convinced (by a friend) to go to the catheter clinic for fluids and anti nausea meds and the friend said she looked and acted a little better for maybe an hour and a half but went right back to where she was quickly.She convinced her to go again on Friday and I was actually asked to take her and there was absolutely zero change at all after treatment.
By Sunday it was evident she was deteriorating and I asked for permission to talk to her about my concerns. She begrudgingly allowed and I asked for permission to call the Dr who told me I needed to do my best to convince her to let me take her to the ER. If she wouldn’t, I would have to try to get her back into the cath lab on Monday.
it took some convincing but I took her to the ER. Not only was she extremely dehydrated, her kidney and liver levels were way off and she ended up admitted.
She was released after 2 1/2 days and her mother convinced her that me working was not good for her because during that time she was alone for 8 1/2-9 hours a day and that, at least during “Hell Week” she should go back home (we live 2 hours from our kids and parents). I agreed that being around others would be a big boost and likely the best option. Unbeknownst to me, they had already planned she would be going down the day after she was released from the hospital, on Wednesday. I also thought this was a good idea. Be out of the house she had been cooped up in, be around loved ones, etc.
On Sunday, Mothers Day, I drive down and spent the day with our Mothers and as the time drew closer to us getting ready to go, her mood began to change. During the day she was almost herself. Loving, affectionate, etc.
when we got in the car she shut down. I guessed she had begun to think about this upcoming Friday as it’s treatment week and He’ll Week follows.
she has been very distant and somewhat cold. I have done my absolute best to be a dialed down version of myself as I don’t want to create any more stress than she’s already facing. Respecting her wishes, I have not discussed anything regarding it. I have asked if there is anything I can do to help her as I know the stress is starting to take a toll. Big mistake!
im lost here. It doesn’t seem to matter what I do, it wrong and causes her to get upset with me. She’s very short or she’s chewing me out, belittling me or just plain mean.
I don’t know what else I can possibly do.
I know this turned out to be a novel but I really have nobody to share with, at least nobody who would understand. And I don’t dare bring up how I feel or the countless tears I’ve shed because I know 100% she will say I am trying to make this about me.
I have never felt so helpless, worthless, unneeded, unloved or unappreciated in my life. I know I’m overreacting but I’m at my witt’s end. Why can’t she see that I’m on her side and that I just want to offer whatever I can, even if it’s just my shoulder and my arms which she’s made clear are unwanted/unneeded?
I can’t be the only one who’s doing through or gone through this…
I apologize for babbling as well as any typos.
LovesPrimes Member Posts: 9 Member
Lostandshutout, I just wanted you to know I read every word and it has me thinking about my own experience and how it affects my husband. I am only 6 days out from bilateral mastectomy and we don't know yet whether I will need chemo or radiation. I have started counseling with someone from the Cancer Institute here. Do you have any resources for counseling and/or support?
I do know that the American Cancer Society has some resources: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/caregivers.html
I don't know about anyone else but I hope that you continue to update us here. Just as our primary caregivers are unlikely to fully understand what we are going through, we also are unlikely to understand what our primary caregivers are going through.
Lostandshutout I can kind of relate. My wife finished her chemo and 2 weeks into radiation. Chemo started Dec 2022. Treatments were Monday, Wednesday evenings till Thursday we’re tough for her. Unfortunately I was laid off from my job after 20 years Jan 2023. So, I was home a lot for 2 months. It was always what can I get you, what do you want to do, what do you want to eat. I wanted to do everything and everything she wanted. She had a hard time deciding, and was told what every you want. But no, I’d tell here this isn’t about me it’s about you. A lot of little abutments. Now, chemo is done. Has about 3 weeks left of radiation. We got into a stupid argument about 3 weeks ago. Long story short, she said she wants her space and her own time. She has plans for trips and concerts with friends and her family. No plans with me. Asked where I fit it? Again she wants her space, and over the years we’ve spent too much time together. Asked if she still loved me. She said yes, but wasn’t sure she liked me?? I’m afraid of losing her if I give too much space. She deserves her trips and concerts, but I don’t know where I fit I. If at all? Is this a phase? I don’t know how to act around her, or how to talk to her.1
I am kinda there. She has been at her moms since her treatment on Friday and I haven’t heard from her. I haven’t pestered or bothered. I text once and said I hoped she was doing ok and I text another time that I lived her and hope she slept well. Crickets.
I find myself asking the same questions. Where do I fit in this picture. DO I have a place in this picture. And, like you, I haven’t gotten an answer at all.
it has been a very lonely and excruciating time and I haven’t shared that with her because I don’t want her to think I’m trying to make this about me.
There is help everywhere you look for people who have or had cancer but almost nothing for those of us who are losing everything AND our spouses who are walking away from us.0
@LostMikey i KNOW EXACTLY what you’re saying. I have been very cautious to not speak about anything regarding how I feel. Even if it’s frustration that might be work related, “why is everything about how YOU’RE feeling?”
Why is it so difficult to understand that we’re literally trying to do everything in our power to help you and all you can do is **** on us?
I know we will never be able to comprehend the pure hell, physically, mentally, emotionally, etc. that they are experiencing but why do we, the ones who would, without hesitation, give up our own health, happiness and lives just for them to be better…why do we get treated like ****?
Friends and other family bring a card or send a thoughtful text and it’s like they’ve moved heaven and earth. Meanwhile, on top of working, we’re cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, many of the other tasks that they might normally take care of on top of our own chores AND looking after them in every way imaginable, but we are the enemy.
There are support groups all over the place for those with cancer, there are support groups for female caregivers all over but I haven’t had luck finding groups for the men who have become pariahs to the lives of their lives.
I have never been more heartbroken, lost and alone.0
@Lostandshutout heartbroken is exactly how I fee. I just hope it is just a phase. My wife has asked for space and time. It was suggested to me that I give it to her. So that’s exactly what I’m going to giver her. She gonna get all the space she needs. No more “I love you”, no more hugs/kiss. No more “wanna go out”. No more texting. I’m gonna try to do my own thing. Maybe she will realize what’s important to her and come back to me. And if she doesn’t , then I haven’t lost anything. It’s gonna be hard to do. We will see how long I last.0
@LostMikey ikey and @Lostandshutout t...
I have no words. I am in tears reading about your pain and loneliness.
I am a survivor of stage 1A breast cancer. I have not had to go through what either of your wives are dealing with... no chemo, thank God, but I had surgery and radiation, and am now dealing with a persistent seroma, cording, and lymphedema, which will be a lifelong concern.
I do not know how I would have gotten through this process without my husband. He has been so supportive and wonderful, and I know that he is worrying and in pain watching me suffer and struggle. He has kept me from falling apart multiple times, and has been there as a shoulder to cry on when I couldn't keep it together. I can't even begin to imagine why your wives wouldn't accept the support you are trying to provide, but I can say that they are wrapped up in their own misery and not considering how difficult it is in your positions. It's true that you can't fathom the misery and pain they are going through, but the reverse is true as well. It's a struggle for both of you, in your own way, and although her cancer is her fight, supporting her in her fight is your fight, and if she refuses to let you in and accept your support, then it is, truly, her loss.
I can't imagine what they are going through, so don't really know what advice to offer... but maybe keeping a journal is one way to deal with your frustrations. I also truly believe that letting your wives know how you feel is critical. If they turn it around by suggesting that you are making it about you, remind them that fighting cancer is an "US" thing, and you are in pain by not being allowed to support her fight. Remind them that you love them, and be persistent in doing so. Remind them that you will always be there, and if there is something that they need you to do that you can't read their minds and they need to communicate that need to you.
I'm so sorry that you are going through this. I'm sorry that your wives do not recognize the support you offer. I wish I could fix it for you. Be patient, be persistent, and be there... they may come around. 🤞❤️1
I had a great talk with my wife yesterday! Finally she opened up to me! She said she is struggling with her self worth, who she is, her legacy., nothing I did or didn’t do. I told her I understand, although I really don’t. Asked how I can help. She told me I can’t help and needs time to figure herself out. Of course I’m supporting her, and said she can always talk to me about it if she’s comfortable. Told her I’d give her the space/time she needs, but please don’t shut me off completely. Suggested we still need time together and she agreed. I’m a very affectionate person and I’m not sure how to show her affection (small kiss, hug, hold hand, snuggle ) or if it’s ok to do so. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Last week we started individually speaking to a therapist.0
barbhetzel Member Posts: 1 *
Hi, guys who are husbands and lovers of Cancer patients. I did not have the advantage of having a husband who was supportive. But, my family stepped in to help, which is very different. You get the edge of the anger from your wives, who are struggling with lots of issues. I have stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, and have been through many types of drugs. I may be on my last drug, as there are no more to try. But, I went through anger stages when I slowly had my agency taken away from me, being mostly single and a planner all my life. So, it is hard to give it up for even a while! I went to a therapist to learn how to express my opinion without being loud and obnoxious. She helped.
I also know that there are cancer support groups for men or spouses all around, you just have to look. That is when things started turning around for some of the husbands, because they shared their frustration. I hope you can find or START a group for men, or spouses even. I think the Social Worker at the institutes they get treatments in, might have a way to find or start a men's support group?? I hope you make it through this journey with your wives. They need you whether they think so at the time or not! And, if they are not taking the meds that are prescribed to stop the nausea ( then you deal with constipation!) and diarrhea, she will suffer more. And, I say, why go through it because they have developed these meds for that purpose. In 1990, when my husband went through chemo, they did not have these drugs. He was miserable. I am thankful they have the drugs now.
Do not be hesitant to ask for help at her clinic either. But, you will have to help yourself during this hard time, and that may mean, reaching out, as hard as that is for some people! Good luck ! BJ0
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