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Joined: Apr 2009

It has been a few months since I posted here. I broke my ankle in May, had surgery on it, and I can now run again which is important for me. My wife is on her third course of chemotherapy for stage 4 colon cancer with mets to liver and abdominal wall. She was diagnosed almost 2 years ago; it has been a journey for both of us.
The reason for my post is that yesterday at work, a co-worker screamed at me for a mistake I made on an excel spreadsheet. Normally this kind of thing I could shrug off fairly well – not yesterday. I lost it. Lost it meaning I was reduced to tears. I wanted to say “I was up all night with my wife after one of her decadron highs after chemotherapy and you are bitching about a damn spreadsheet!?? I walked into another room and just cried. Lots of built-up pain and emotions. I don’t cry very much, certainly not in front of other people, feeling vulnerable is threatening to me, but it all just hit the fan yesterday.
People don’t have a clue what this is like unless they experience it.

Helps to share, thank you.


MichelleP's picture
Posts: 254
Joined: May 2009

I can relate to the tears you have David. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't end up walking into a room by myself and letting the tears flow.

It's so true that people don't have a clue what our journey is like until they themselves travel this path.

This process with my husband is the most difficult I have even endured and most times I feel so very much alone. I watch my friends (or thought they were) go about their normal lives and something inside of me resents it although I am clearly aware my feelings are just selfish ones.

sue Siwek
Posts: 280
Joined: Jun 2009

yup, they can not possibly know and don't want too. best bet is with those who understand what you are going through. so sorry, don't be embarrassed of your tears, they are important, share them with your wife and loved ones, it is important for them to know how much you care. did that with my husband who is suffering from parkinson's and stabilized brain cancer and it touched him deeply.

SonSon's picture
Posts: 186
Joined: Jul 2009

Yes, I can relate to how thin nerves can be and how close to the surface tears can be.
I can imagine how uncomfortable it would be to break down in tears at work. But maybe it was a good release.
Do your coworkers know your wife is sick?

grandmafay's picture
Posts: 1639
Joined: Aug 2009

My husband has been fighting colon cancer for 6 years and is now on hospice. I find that it's the little things that set me off. I think I am handling things really well. Then wam I'm fighting tears and anger over some silly thing. The stress just has to come out sometimes. Many have never had to deal with cancer on a 24/7 basis. They don't understand. Tears are a good release at times. Don't feel that it's a sign of weakness. Those of us who have been in this fight for a time are stronger than we we ever thought we could be. Fay

bluerose's picture
Posts: 1102
Joined: Jul 2009

Sounds like things have built up for you and all you needed was one more stress to tip the table. I was the one who had cancer years back and my ex was in your position as my caregiver. He seemed fine all through the treatments but after I was on my way back to a 'normal' state he totally broke down and had a nervous breakdown. I am telling you this because sometimes caregivers don't realize how much stress is actually building inside through the cancer journey.

You might want to look into seeing someone about the breakdown at work. I know most men don't like the idea of seeing psychologists or similar professionals but like when the rest of our body needs help we get that help don't we? Don't let your emotions pile up too much because your family needs you and you have to take care of yourself too.

You and yours are in my prayers. Blessings, Bluerose

Posts: 167
Joined: Apr 2009

Thank you all for your kind and honest responses.

I forget how tired I am. I was exhausted that day. For some reason when this person got in my face, it took me back to 3rd grade and a teacher doing that to me, way back in 1963! I could have complained about the boundary issue but at this point I choose to pick my battles so to speak.

I feel better today. Ran 4 miles yesterday! Felt great!

Posts: 102
Joined: Sep 2009

yes we have all been then as carers. Pushed ourselves too far. I used to be so proud of the fact that I am good in a crisis, one everyone could depend on to be there and to keep going whilst there were things to be done. Last week I had a mini meltdown. I sat at my desk at work and realised I had nothing left in the tank. Since hubby was diagnosed in Mar 09 with GBM IV, I have continued working full time, fitting in all his appointments as well and when he has been in hospital, other than the days he was in the emergency dept or the ICU, I was back at work. I would go to the hospital in the morning and have breakfast with him, then go to work and then be back by his side after work, spend 2 hours with him and then head home to our 2 little girls. Anyway, I saw my GP and she gave me a week off work. My first day off I crashed (quite royally as well :)). For the next 4 days just the thought of having to get dressed and get out of the house had me in tears. I did get out of the house but I was a mess. I saw my counsellor and it became obvious that I had (again) forgotten all about my welfare. Its going to be hard but I have told my family that I will be allocating 3 hours every week just to me. They can have the other 165 :)

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bluerose's picture
Posts: 1102
Joined: Jul 2009

while you are feeling better I would look around for someone to talk to professionally about the stress of the situation with your wife's illness. Now don't run away because I am suggesting seeing someone like a grief counsellor, sometimes men especially have a hard time with this kind of help, but grief counsellors are wonderful and can really help you through the process. Also just in general seeing that an episode in 1963 brought back feelings that resulted in you breaking down I am thinking you may have other issues stored up that you might just want to unload. Burying things for years and years will build up and blow at some point if you don't address them earlier, especially in times of extreme stress in the future as you are going through now.

Think seriously about looking for someone to talk with on a regular basis, plus this board as well of course, but professional guidance included may be just what makes all the difference in the world for you and yours.

Take care David.

Blessings, Bluerose

Posts: 1939
Joined: Oct 2009

people have no idea what you're going thru unless they've been there too. My s---head brother thought there was humor in a colostomy while I was abed with incredible post-op pain last month. You might find this web site encouraging, as I do, since its so hard to get by each minute of each hour of each day. All I have is my girlfriend--could not survive this on my own.Too bad you still need/have to work.No way Icould have put up with my job during the chemo/rad/surgery/ I've been thru and the chemo yet to come...

Posts: 92
Joined: Mar 2009

are sometimes not aware that bigger and more important things matter in life. For that coworker of yours, i can completely relate but not the extent that I was yelled at or anything. I remember when my mom was undergoing chemo..i sometimes stay a little later to help and come to work the next day...other people are totally unaware and they only sometimes see the good for "them"..hopefully your coworker realizes that it is JUST AN EXCEL...i am an accountant so now if i have problems, i still deal with them but i'm like u, i try to really put it in perspective that its JUST WORK...have a great xmss and hope the best for you and your wife...and next time just go CTRL + A, DEL, CTRL S on his spreadsheet..:-)

terato's picture
Posts: 383
Joined: Apr 2002

I would lash out at people, including my boss, at the time, for what I perceived as pettiness or insensitivity. Your reactions are understandable and very human. Be patient with yourself and, as far as others, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do".

Love, Courage, and Peace of Mind!


bluerose's picture
Posts: 1102
Joined: Jul 2009

... as you just experienced at work. So many caregivers take on so much when their spouse or partner and often forget themselves - hold it all in so as not to upset their mate with cancer or their family but in so doing they forget that they have needs too, the biggest need is to get it all out. I am very glad you found this site as you will see that many on here have had the same thing happen to them. My marriage after cancer, many years after, ended in divorce but during my treatment years my spouse did the same thing as you did - tried to do too much and when I was recouperating, just starting to, he saw I was getting a bit better and that is when he fell totally apart. Was diagnosed with clinical depression and had a nervous breakdown for holding it all in.

Caregivers as many on here well know are like angels but we are human angels and need the rest and help as well and I hope that maybe this incident at work might alert you to that fact. Grief therapy is very helpful to many on here, grief therapy isn't only for losing a loved one but for grieving over the loss of many things including a partner's health and how that affects the whole family including the caretaker.

I hope you take care of yourself now so that this doesn't go to far as it did for my ex. You will be better able to help your spouse if you are strong yourself and that means taking care of you too.

Hope 2010 brings better health for your spouse and for you too. Blessings, Blue

HeartofSoul's picture
Posts: 732
Joined: Dec 2009

Im someone who has let his tears stream when ever my heart is touched, overjoyed, in mourning or saddened. The song called "Born Free" from 1966 is how my tears respond to the world around me. This world can be insatiable in its demands, harsh like a stubborn glacier, and merciless by stealing our loved ones too soon. No person, disease, or event has the power to intimidate our tears from appearing in our eyes or streaming down our cheeks, with or without the eyes from others seeing us. Below is a poem I did tonight as a way to share and care. By the way, I was not alone; I had my tears very close by

Tears are not weakness
Tears are not shame
Tears express moments with a kiss
Tears do not look to blame

Tears are lonesome when in hiding
Tears live for a brief time and end
Tears also can reappear with their own lives
Tears are there for you like a dear close friend

Tears show their strength in many ways
Tears are not in the least shy
Tears show up everyday
Tears do what they do best when they cry

Tears and courage grew up together
Tears are the child in us, courage the commitment
Tears will always live in us forever
Tears embrace our sentiment

Steve 'Heart of Soul'
two time cancer survivor and caregiver for others

Posts: 28
Joined: Jun 2010


Posts: 11
Joined: Jun 2010

It's tough to go about "business as usual" when someone you love is experiencing something so serious.

I wish strength for you in these difficult times.

Posts: 1
Joined: Jun 2010

Hi David, I was so moved by your story. I never allowed myself to cry - thought it was weak. BUT now (caring for my mother with lung cancer) the best thing I can do for myself is just let myself feel the pain and cry. I've found that the people around me who care understand and support me. Cry when you need to and be sure to take care of you.


Irene626's picture
Posts: 21
Joined: Apr 2010

you are so right no one knows what we go through on a daily basis..when i was caring for my mom before she passed...it was the worst thing to see someone you love so much suffering...i cried every night when i would put my mom to sleep so she wouldn't see me cry...i wanted to be so strong for her..but inside i was dieing along with her...and when she passed i feel like my heart and soul went with her....its an indescribable pain when someone has cancer especially the kind my mom had which was GBM brain cancer...it affects not just your body but also your neurological functions....just know that you are not the only one feeling this way...everyone on this site is going through similar situations you are not alone....i hope things get better for you..

Posts: 3
Joined: Jun 2010

First of all, let me just say that your co-worker is a complete jacka** for screaming at you. God forbid he/she ever has to deal with this curse himself/herself one day. You are 100% correct when you say people don't have a clue unless they experience it, but even that is no reason for what your co-worker did. You have every right to cry, cry all you want, whenever you want. You have to allow yourself to grieve, it's not like a light switch you turn on & off. It's with you always, every day. If you need to get psychological help, but don't feel guilty. All the best to you & your wife.

Posts: 5
Joined: Jan 2010

Yes, I have experienced the same thing! I am a remote employee and work from home. I avoid crying at all costs as I am afraid I will start and not be able to stop.

The last couple of months my husband has been on a new chemo regimen that he is not tolerating very well. In an effort to try and manage the nausea/vomiting issue I set an alarm every 3 hours so I will not forget to give him one of 4 alternating anti-nausea medications and try to coax him to eat/drink something. This can go on 24/7 for days between chemo cycles. In the meantime I am working 65 to 70 hour weeks. Last week, during a meeting that I was running several of my co-workers were rather rude. I would have normally been polite about it, but I just could not take it anymore and was not very polite or professional. When I hung up the phone I was angry until I rcvd an email from my son in Afghanistan.....and that is when the tears started.

Yep, angry because I am a nurse and not able to fix my husband or at least make him more comfortable and then the tears start. I am still working these crazy hours so we can cover all the co-pays and bills instead of spending time with him. I feel like a 2 year old about to have a temper tantrum. Life is just not fair!

sea60's picture
Posts: 2617
Joined: May 2010

How can anyone ever know what it's like unless you're in the midst of it.

I'm so sorry about your wife and I know how hard it is for you. My sister was my caregiver during my cancer treatments and surgeries and although she always reflected a positive attitude, I know she broke down several times.

It's a hard and scary thing.

I hope this person realized what you are going through.

Kind regards,

Posts: 1846
Joined: Aug 2010


As a caution to you and to others: it is very important to deal with emotions, good and bad, as they come up and not shelve to work with them later. The problem is, you may never get the opportunity to deal with them at what you think is a plausible future date.

I know from personal experience, unfortunately. On May 25, my brother passed away after a month long stay at the hospital, during which I was one of two primary caregivers. The same morning, my husband had an MRI. The day after my brother's death, we found out my husband had throat cancer. I was not able to grieve my brother's death because, as we all know, cancer overload kicks into high gear almost immediately and all my attention had to shift to my husband. While it doesn't equate for some people, a month later I lost my fourteen year old dog who slept next to me every night. I don't think she actually knew she was a dog and not a child...I certainly never told her!

I know I still have not grieved my brother's death properly and in some ways it has caused me to grieve the entire time my husband has been undergoing treatment: not a healthy thing.

Acknowledge and deal with your emotions - take time to understand what the anger, resentment or sadness you may be feeling actually means and what you can do about it.

You have to stay healthy - for yourself and for your patient.

Tina Brown's picture
Tina Brown
Posts: 1054
Joined: Nov 2009

I can double endorse what Noellesmom is saying. I had a series of traumatic life changing events happen to me one after the other which resulted in a breakdown.

1. My mum had terminal cancer & I nursed her at home.
2. my mum died
3. my husband found out that I had fallen in love with someone else and ended our marriage
4. the "someone else" ended our relationship
5. my husband & I gave it a second go
6. it didn't work so we separated
7. I had an operation
8. my husband & I tried again
9. I was diagnosed with cancer.

The only way I could cope with all of this was to ignore it and pretend it would be OK. Sometimes I wouyld think to myself "I'll deal with those feelings later" But I never did. Like Noellesmom I didn't have time to grieve properly to them before another happened. I had a complete breakdown and am on medication & receiving counselling. So please please put yourself and any grief first so you can prevent what happened to me. Tina

supermanhadley's picture
Posts: 13
Joined: Aug 2010

Hey David-

I think when you come close to death and cancer it gives all of us a perspective on life that others don't see. In someways it entitles us to see the things that really matter and in other ways it robs us from the simple ignorance that spreadsheets are important.

I firmly believe that strength means allowing yourself to be human and weak.

I think as men we do feel more vulnerable and out of role when we cry. I know I do. But you are fighting this battle with your wife and I doubt she sees you vulnerable. I am willing to bet she sees you as her strength and hero.


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Posts: 829
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Don't ever feel bad for crying. I took care of my husband when he was diagnosed with stage 1V lung cancer that had spread to his brain & spine. I tried to be strong in front of him, but it's hard to try and hold the tears back. It's so stressful when you see the one you love go through this. So I can understand how you felt. My husband died after only 2 months from a complication (rare) from one of his chemos. It's almost 6 months and I still miss him terribly.
So be strong & just let your wife know how much you love her!! "Carole"

bluerose's picture
Posts: 1102
Joined: Jul 2009

I hope that today you are feeling much better than you did earlier in the month and that your wife is doing better as well.

Just remember we are all here if you need us.

Blessings, Bluerose

Posts: 1
Joined: Jan 2013

The most important thing in life is the love of a family member or friend. You are going to cry, whether it is the Cancer driving you crazy, if it is the depresiion of losing one's life. You must understand there are small amount of Cancer cells in each and every one of us; they may lie domant or come to a negative effect on one's health; you have to live for each day as though it may be your last. If you see the light of the net day, you are ok.

Cry if you must but pray to GOD for healing. He is the only reason to live!

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Joined: Aug 2010


You are dealing with alot of stress with your wife. Don't they realize this at work? Maybe you could take some time off to try and relax a little. I only went through dealing with this for 2 months before my husband passed away in 2010. Lost alot of weight & also almost had a breakdown. It isn't easy trying to be strong & no matter how hard you try, some days are going to suck. Hang in there & hope your wife does better. Be strong!!       "Carole"

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