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Angry husband

Posts: 2
Joined: Oct 2004

My husband was diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer last month. He is 40 years old. He is having a very difficult time dealing with everything that is going on. He is angry (which I understand). What concerns me is that he becomes defiant and acts out in ways that, I fear, may come in the way of his treatment and recovery. Among other things, he got angry and walked out of his first chemo treatment. I'm not sure how to deal with what he is feeling. He's been selected to be in a clinical trial with Erbitux, however, he has developed the 'rash', and now is demanding to be taken out of the trial.
Every Dr. visit has become a battle...is this part of emotional process?

Posts: 835
Joined: Apr 2004

Sorry to hear of your problems but YES anger is a normal part of teh emotional adjustment. Kubler ROss a psychologist describes a typical response as passing thorough stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depressiona dn finally acceptance. In my experience personally and with patients (I am a apsychiatrist) the order is often diferent an teh severity and time spent in each stage is very individual. Men often express more anger and womem more symptoms of depression. I certainly have been well and truly pissed off wiht getting this cancer (stage 3 at age 31) and have had to deal with that in various ways. I found talking to others useful but also used exercise to get rid of teh anxiety and energy that came with.

It is mostly likely that it will pass with time but if it doesn't it may be important to address. unfortunately many men are not so good at accepting help or in particular considering seeing counsellors or therapists. Anger in men can mask depression which should be suspected if there is also sustained difficulties sleeping, loss of appetite, poor energy, aloss of enjoyment of activity, loss of interest in sex and poos concentration. unfortunately a lot of these symptoms often occur outside of depression as many adapt to the diagnosis of cancer. The difference often is the magnitude of teh symptoms and their persistence in time.

Using this site is often helpful and we would certainly welcome your husband here. Otherwise talk to teh oncology team (esp the nurses who often have more time) to see if there is other support available to you and your husband.

Let us know what happens and esp if you find anything that helps- we can all learn from each other's experiences. Best of luck,

Posts: 130
Joined: Jun 2004

It absolutely is part of the process. My Dad has gotten the same way at treatment appointments. What infuriates him is that it takes them 1 - 2 hrs to get his treatment started each time. He is scheduled for 5 hr treatments on Day 1 and when you add 2 hours of wait time to that it freaks him out. He has threatened several times to just walk out, give up, and let nature take it's course. My Mom and I alternate going in with him for his treatments and when he gets like this we calm him down. We remind him why he needs the treatment, that the nurses are all working as hard and as fast as they can to accommodate every patient and that freaking out is not going to help. There have been some days that he was harder to calm than others but he does calm down. He's getting better. Do you go with your husband for treatment ? If there is someone with him that can calm him down and try to take his mind off of why he is there I think that helps tremendously.

Best Wishes,

kangatoo's picture
Posts: 2115
Joined: Feb 2004

Hi, and welcome. I am stage 2 and did 6 months of chemo after surgery. I will be absolutely honest with you, as all here will agree. When I was told I had cancer the shock was absolutely paralising-total denial followed by night after night of no sleep, crying, fits of anger. Every possible thing you can imagine. God only knows how my dear Jen put up with me. That is the truly sad thing about this evil disease, it leaves such an emotional burden on friends and family, but more drastically on our carers, be it spouse or others. During my 6 months of chemo I had several very emotional times at the clinic( and I am supposed to be a macho male!!!) Chemo affects us in different ways both physically and mentally. Frustration for me was due to "chemo brain"--the short term memory loss-absolutely frustrating. The debilitating effect of chemo for 6 months had me feeling like throwing up 24/7 for the whole 6 months!! The medications eased the vomiting but the nausea was there all the time. It is these examples that I give you so that you may understand that we are all effeced in different ways by chemo--in some cases very radically. Your hubbies anger/defiance and plain "pissed off" attitude is in many cases VERY normal. No-one, unless they have, been there, done that could begin to understand--hence the very real need for this site, to be able to support everyone whether they be friend,family,carer.
How do you deal with your hubbies actions?
As a cancer sufferer I can only tell you my opinion. Be there for him, always, no matter how hard things get. Try to understand what it would be like if you were told you had cancer and needed surgery, and/or chemo.
Does he have a close friend who could "listen" to him. Male friends can be very supportive and he may well be able to relate to them his feelings. Talk to his clinic nurses. They can "gently" suggest to him that a councillor/therapist might help him(I saw a therapist--worth every minute!)
Right now your hubby feels helpless, we have all felt it!
Go with the flow and although hard to take, his anger will hopefully subside--it takes time. Do not judge him and avoid arguments. I know this may seem like bending to all his needs--that is not the case. Just give him room to move and vent his frustrations. I am sad to say I know I was a real pain in the arse(excuse my french).
BUT--time will settle things down.
I hope that things improve. Please return and let us know how both of you are coping.
our best wishes from OZ, kanga n Jen

2bhealed's picture
Posts: 2085
Joined: Dec 2001

hi sno,

sorry to hear of your husband's diagnosis. I was 39 at the time of my dx. We are just WAY too young to be having to go through this. I think that adds an extra burden to the emotional overload that accompanies a cancer diagnosis.

I walked out of the chemo clinic in anger....but only because they were serving donuts to the patients and cancer feeds on sugar and I felt that the doctors didn't have a clue!!! But that's another story.....

Yes, anger is part of the gig. It's better for him to express it than to bottle it up. This too shall pass.

My husband was surprised at my outbursts of anger where they had not been before. I am normally a very easygoing person who doesn't allow the little things (like an incompetent counter worker at McDonalds) to get to her. But I was tired of being the 'nice guy' and started asserting myself more. Cancer gave me the power to do this.

What is your hubby usually like? Maybe cancer is empowering him too since he is demanding to be taken off the trial. just a thought. It is important to feel in control at this very out of control time. If he wants out of the trial I hope the doctors listen.

I was Stage 3 lymph pos zero mets and decided against the chemo and took control of my own treatments. It is VERY empowering and I am still alive today (duh) three years later. Have never felt healthier.

Anyway...for your husband it's only been a month. Hold on for the ride.....it can get rough.

peace, emily who thinks fighters win

spongebob's picture
Posts: 2599
Joined: Apr 2003


Please tell me you don't eat at McDonalds! Please tell me you were in there getting a dish of water for your dog on one of those sultry northwoods days when the tem soared above 65...

spongebob's picture
Posts: 2599
Joined: Apr 2003

snovacancy -

Great advice here. I spent more time in denial than I did in angry (I was all angered out from my failed marriage and didn't have any of that left in me!).

He'll come through it. It's a feeling of not being in control that makes us guys angry - I bet he's one who has been in complete control of his life from the get-go hasn't he? And now, suddenly, he's not calling the shots. He didn't choose to get the rash but now he has to deal with it despite doing everyting "right", eh?

Be patient with him. Help him undersand that he isn't in control of the disease, but he is in control of fighting it. He's the General and the chemo and treatments and staff are his troops marching into battle for him. Focus his attention on that. He'll come down. In fact, the outbursts may actually be good - I have read where holisitc and new age folks believe a lot of cancer originates with keeping emotions pent up inside. By having these angry outbursts, he's releasing it and not keeping it pent up. That's a good thing. I agree with steve - help him channel that energy and releaseinto something constructive - get him a gym membership and encourage him to go release daily.

We're behind you guys and we'd be happy to chat with him any time he'd like to log in. There are plenty of us macho guys here - like Kanga! You should see him in a thong...


- Spongebob

kangatoo's picture
Posts: 2115
Joined: Feb 2004

Don't tempt me Sponger!!!!!!!Now don't rush off ta look at my gallery of pics. !!!!!
Awww---can just hear tha gals here sayin-"ah gotta see that!!!""--lol

Posts: 2
Joined: Oct 2004

Thanks to all of you for your encouragement and words of advice. I will take it all to heart. Tomorrow is chemo day...let's hope it goes well.

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