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What do you do when your stage 4 cancer patient won't give up drinking?

Posts: 265
Joined: Aug 2011

My husband was diagnosed stage 4 rectal cancer last June. He has had chemo and then liver resection radiation and now more chemo because of more liver lesions. He has had his first port pop out from the Vectibix chemo and a picc line put in which is now infected and another port just put in last week. Other than the typical side effects of the chemo is doing ok. The problem is that he won't stop drinking. You would think with liver issues, he would realize that he is not helping himself but he has had alcohol issues his entire life, tried to stop many many times. He told me that he has stage 4 cancer and why shouldn't he be able to drink if he wants. I guess part of me understands that somewhat but the other part of me become enraged that he could be so irresponsible. I want to bring it up to his doctor but know he will deny it. I really don't know what to do about it. It makes me sick to be around him when he is drinking. To me that would be like smoking if you had lung cancer. Nothing seems to work and I am tired of taking care of a cancer patient who won't take care of himself. I feel like I'm fighting a losing battle. I am so stressed over his health and our financial issues and the drinking just puts me over the edge.....Any ideas, advice would be so appreciated. Thanks

angelsbaby's picture
Posts: 1171
Joined: May 2008

my husband had stage 4 colon cancer and he loved his beer he was a diabetic also, but i just let him do what he wanted , since it was his life and it was a sick one, so why not let him have what they love , thats just me and my thoughts he did not make it so i am glad i didnt interfere with his good days


Posts: 265
Joined: Aug 2011

Thanks for your reply. I'm so sorry that your husband did not make it. It saddens me deeply every time I hear another person loosing the fight to cancer. You sound like you were a wonderful wife and caregiver to your husband. Thanks for helping me see things from a different perspective. I do want him to be happy and I know that my expectations are sometimes too much for him and my kids also. I have a hard time watching people self destruct but maybe I need to find a way to get over that. Thanks for your comments and I'm very sorry for your loss. Blessings, Teri

Posts: 1846
Joined: Aug 2010

Take care of yourself, tko. He's got the responsibility to take care of himself and if he doesn't choose to do so, you can't make him. I know all the arguments about he is medicated and doesn't necessarily make the best decisions: did he before he was medicated? He's sick so let him be happy: you didn't stop being a person because he was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. What about your happiness?

Just because someone is diagnosed with cancer doesn't mean they will have a personality change and an epiphany about their health. If they didn't take care of themselves before, they probably won't now.

I know this is hard. I have the the utmost respect for angelsbaby's decision but it may not be the right one for you.

Take care of yourself, tko.

Posts: 265
Joined: Aug 2011

Thanks Noellesmom, you are so right. I know he is responsible for himself but it is hard for me to sit back and watch him do things that are not healthy. I thought stage 4 cancer would be kind of like hitting rock bottom and a huge wake up call. I guess I am a control freak in many ways and just want what is best for my family. When he drinks he acts like a totally different person. It is very hard because I have no control over this. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Blessings, Teri

amy_h414's picture
Posts: 98
Joined: May 2012

In the end, you cannot make him stop drinking. You'll drive yourself crazy trying. He has to want to stop and it sounds like he doesn't. Have you thought about joining an al-anon support group? Al-anon is the spin off group from alcoholics anonymous for family/friends of alcoholics. They can help you to let go. Big hugs, I know this has to be so stressful for you.

Posts: 265
Joined: Aug 2011

Yes, I have thought of al-anon many times. I guess I really need to check that out. He is stage 4 not terminal so I get very frustrated with the drinking. Some things never change. He says the alcohol helps with his pain. It is very stressful for me. Thanks for your comments. Hugs back.

Posts: 24
Joined: Apr 2012

Hi I hear you. My Mom poured vodka down her feeding tube. I have been in al-anon for years now and it has really helped. I learned to focus on myself and to separate the sick Mom from the loving caring Mom. I would really encourage you to check it out. The biggest thing I learned was that I was not alone. Alcholism is like cancer in that both are diseases. Good luck. Be strong and take care of yourself

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