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Dazed and Confused

Posts: 2
Joined: Jan 2009

My wife of 25 years, age 46, (I am 56)is getting treatment for terminal colon and liver cancer. We have 2 grandkids, ages 8 and 10, that we have custody of. My wife has chosen to go stay with folks 900 miles away rather than stay here. The hospital where she recieves treatment is about 10 hours from our home and 8 hours from her folks. She says she doesn't want to be a burden with me doing the Mr.Mom thing, working, keeping house, cooking, washing, etc. I have seen here once for a week over the last three months. Since this is an "all about her" time, I have not said anything, just given my full support for whatever she wants. She told me I just had to "cowboy up." The kids are having some problems with this, not to mention me, too. I'm contemplating early retirement and moving there, even though it is not a financially sound thing to do. I just want to be near her. It doesn't look like she'll be coming home anytime soon. Retire and move, stay and just "cowboy up, what? I know she misses us terribly and wants to be here. I'm getting pretty darn depressed over this but don't know what to do.

zahalene's picture
Posts: 680
Joined: Nov 2005

major hugs to you for supporting your wife in her decision even though it is hurtful and confusing to you. You are right about this being 'all about her', but of course the fall-out touches the whole family. I actively fought cancer for four years and my biggest concern was the trauma it was causing in my family. I am sure your wife feels that her decision is making it easier for all of you in some ways.
As for quitting your job, if that is going to put those kids at risk in any way, it might just add to the problems and cause your wife and you more worry. Keeping them secure is part of the 'cowboy up' thing for sure. Are there other family members who could take charge of them for awhile and give you more freedom to spend weekends or whatever with your wife? It's time for everyone to 'cowboy up'...not just you.
I would suggest counseling for you and the kids where you are and also for your wife where she is. Her treatment center may offer some services in that area.
And the kids need an outside source who can work with them without the emotional involvement that you or other family members would bring to the situation.
There are no easy answers but don't try to do it all yourself. Tap into all available resources and don't hesitate to ask for help. And, of course, come here any time to vent or ask questions or just rant if that helps.
God bless.

terato's picture
Posts: 383
Joined: Apr 2002


Whatever you do, please give very serious consideration to what giving up your job would mean to you and your children in these economically perilous times. Your wife is being very pragmatic in making it possible for you to "take care of business" at home while she takes care of herself at this very difficult time in both your lives.

However, there may be an opportunity under the Family and Medical Leave Act for you to take time off without consequences:

"FMLA applies to all public agencies, all public and private elementary and secondary schools, and companies with 50 or more employees. These employers must provide an eligible employee with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year for any of the following reasons:

* for the birth and care of the newborn child of an employee;
* for placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care;
* to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or
* to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.

Employees are eligible for leave if they have worked for their employer at least 12 months, at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles. Whether an employee has worked the minimum 1,250 hours of service is determined according to FLSA principles for determining compensable hours or work."


Your wife would never want you to jeopardize your or your children's futures, so please investigate your options prior to making any irreversible decisions.

Love, Courage, and Peace of Mind!


MR_SAD's picture
Posts: 91
Joined: Nov 2008

I am truly sorry for your situation. I too have been married for 25 yaers and like you I was older than My Cathy. I know that the last three months must be have been very hard on you. Did She take the kids with her? You had said she did not want you to have to be the Mr. Mom. This must make it even more difficult for you. I think Rick had a very good suggestion. The FMLA Law may be an option and right now good Jobs are hard to come by. It guarantees that you will have your job after you take off for your wife. Driving 10 hours to see your Wife and family has got to be tough on you. You will need to try and take good a care of yourself and watch out driving if you get tiried stop and rest. We dont want this Cancer to take either of you and driving 10 hours one way is not easy. I Don't think I could do what you are having to deal with. Not knowing what is going on day to day would be hard. What was her prognosis? The doctors should give you some Idea of how She is doing. You may be able to go to the treatments with her the next time you see her, talk to her doctors, ask questions really find out what is going on. If time is Short I really think you need to be with her. She may be trying to protect you from what is going on. You don't need suprises at this time. I was with my wife thru her most difficult time and in three months a lot can Change. Just make sure you know what is going on with her. I hope things will work out for you.
Take care
Mr Sad

Posts: 2
Joined: Jan 2009

Her prognosis was 6 months to 2 years. She's seen some improvement in the liver, but the colon has not shown any improvement. They are changing up the chemo next go around. I have the kids with me. It's been pretty difficult but we are managing OK. Thank goodness I can cook and am a whiz in the laundry room. I always did the laundry even when momma was home. I wouldn't be quitting my job, I'd be retireing. I am a police officer with 25 years in the retirement system, 32 years overall but some of that didn't count for my retirement. I would make less, but could work at another job and not have to make as much. I'd go dig ditches if it would put me close to her. With the kids in school and me working, I can't just take off on a 10 hour trip too easily. She could get treatment closer to home, but she has bonded, so to speak, with her doctor and won't see anyone else. It's MD Anderson in Houston which is one of the best there is in the Nation. I'm glad she is going there as I want her to have the best. I'm not physically up to some jobs, having had a total knee replacement 12/07 and had the other scheduled to be done when we found out about the cancer. I also have osteoarthitis in hip and a shoulder, as well. Driving very far is an ordeal for me. Chasing kids isn't too easy either! They are ADHD and are at times, a real handful. I am getting long winded. Thanks to all of you for responding. It helps to be able to just run my mouth.

slickwilly's picture
Posts: 339
Joined: Feb 2007

HI. I am sorry for your whole family and what your facing. I had cancer 5 years ago and I will look at this from your wifes perspective for a bit. I had 2 daughters in their last year of high school. My initial prognosis was pretty bad. I made it clear that I didn't want my cancer to effect their last year of school as they can never get it back. But my cancer did cause emotional issues despite my best efforts. Having children with ADHD I am sure your wife knows what the issues are with moving them. Many don't deal well with change. And I completly understand her need to have an Oncologist she likes. Its very important to her care and sometimes its hard to find one that fills all of our needs. I would bet your wife could use your support but is putting the family first. Before I did anything I would take the kids with you and see if there is a chance of them adapting to a new environment. Even a trip to some schools that deal with special needs. I don't think your wife would be happy without the kids being happy. Then you could make a decision on the retirement option if things worked out. I took a medical retirement from the Michigan Dept of Corrections and am on Social Security Disability. As easy as retirement sounds, its one of the hardest things I have done in my life. Having worked our whole life and being around critical situations with other officer's its a hard thing to leave. There is a bond that you will really miss. You need to have a heart to heart with your wife and work out something that will meet both your short term and long term needs. She does not want to hurt the family and you don't want to feel like you have not held up your side of the marriage. You both deserve better as you have to live with this. Slickwilly

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