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unable to understand my husband's emotions after cancer

Posts: 1
Joined: Nov 2012

Husband was diagnosed with stage1 testicular cancer in June of this year. Surgery to remove the tumor was scheduled quick and afterwards he was required to go through 9 weeks of intense chemotherapy. I lost an Aunt close to me to pancreatic cancer this February, after she had survived breast cancer few years earlier, so of course when we received his news of the tumor, we both took it very hard. We are both 32, married 5 years but have been together for 13 years and have no children. It was something we wanted soon but of course now we haven't really discussed it. He is the love of my life and seeing him go through this pain made me more attached to him than ever before. In October we finally received the news from the doctor that he is cancer free. Although he is still on blood thinners for a blood clot caused by the catheter that was in his arm, he has no other medical problems to worry about now. I was his support through all this, along with his parents. I went to ALL doctor appointments. He needed me through this because he told me. We never tried talking to a therapist but I know a therapist would come see him sometimes at the cancer center. Recently after all this I think because he is accepting the fact that he is now a cancer survivor he feels like letting free and living life. Kind of like a fresh start. I understand it completely but the only problem is that he doesn't include me. He wants to leave and do things with friends and not include me. The more I ask I feel like I frustrate him. I've never been a wife to stop him from doing or trying anything but now clearly he doesn't want to ask me or include me. On our last discussion he has told me he is thinking of separating. The idea of divorce is crushing me. I feel like I could've lost him in a situation that was out of our control and now I feel like I'm going to lose him because that's what he wants. I don't think he even understands what he is feeling, because in one month he can't just forget about us and our years. I'm lost and dying inside every day. Cancer killed more than just some dreams we had because now it seems like it's killing our future.

Posts: 8
Joined: Apr 2011

Dear Heartbroken,

I'm not married, but my boyfriend of nearly five years was diagnosed with a very rare type of cancer in January of 2011. I am a survivor as well, so this was especially hard for me to deal with. He went through 7 rounds of intense chemo, radiation finally, in September 2011, he was told he was cancer free.
Our celebration was short lived though, my boyfriend was diagnosed with a recurrence at his 6 month follow-up. He started chemo immediately and was told that this time his cancer was very serious, and his doctor referred him to a specialist at MD Anderson in Houston. He went, and had surgery to remove all the tumors, and after a few bumps along the road and 3 months spent thousands of miles away from me, he was strong enough to come home. But he hasn't been the same person. Throughout it all he has told me that I mean everything to him, and that thinking of me keeps him going. But he has pushed me so far away and out of his life that I don't know how much more I can take. I am devastated. Like you I worry that I might lose him to the cancer, but even more than that, his reaction has made it seem like I have already lost him. He hardly talks to me, rarely hugs or kisses me when we do get to spend time together, and in general he has just withdrawn from life. We talked about it a few weeks ago and he told me he was afraid to be close to me. It hurts to know that, but nothing compared to all the hurt I have been through in the past few months. I am afraid too. The future ahead of us is so scary and uncertain that I can hardly think of it. We used to have dreams of getting married, moving in together, and having babies, but I feel that cancer has robbed us of those dreams. Now when I think of the future, all I think of is what will happen if he doesn't get better.
I know I don't have any answers for you, but I just wanted you to know that I can relate to what you are going through. Hang in there. I have been going to counseling individually for a few months now, and it has helped me. I think counseling could also be beneficial to you and your husband. Give it a try, if you both are willing.

So Worried
Posts: 111
Joined: Aug 2012

I am so sorry for the both of you. I do not have experience with this, but just reading both of these posts, I'm trying to figure out what these guys are thinking.........

I'm sure it hurts so much, I mean you gals saw them through surgeries and treatments and stood by their sides...and now this??? 

Are they wanting to be with someone that did not know them when they had cancer? Someone who did not see them all sick and icky? Do they not feel like "real men" now...and they want a new beginning.....? I'm just trying to think outloud here.... Might be the case with post number 1, and post number 2, I think your boyfriend might be depressed.....

just my thoughts...good luck and prayers for both of you. 

Posts: 16
Joined: Feb 2013

Hi, I spent a great part of my free time on this site this weekend; yup, will get to the intro of self asap. Had to reply to this post, tho, because you all here have been my sole source of support for a while now; really isolated. So, after being with you all this weekend I found a cancer support group scheduled for this AM, and I went. It was great! Did me a world of good! However, one of the ladies mentioned that sometimes at the support group, when she hears a worse story than hers, it helps her go forward. So; here goes: (AND BEAT THIS!!)

Have been married for over ten years. Shitcanned lucrative successful career to work in hubby's small business. He was diagnosed stg IV EC, total gastric bypass w/ severe complications Nov-Jan '12 &'13. Went to Mayo CLinic Rochester for 2nd opinion and froze my A$$ off. Got crab boat onto the water w/ crew running boat for income - remember I quit working! Worked the accounts, deck on tuna & salmon boat - and let me tell you, that's one hell of a tough job. I never need a gym.  Am running business & books, caregiving and etc etc etc....; hubby writes Will and leaves it all except for house, truck & mortgage w/microscopically  small life ins policy to his daughter from previous marriage. And names her legal representative. She resides in another state and has come to see him once since diagnisis. Wouldn't know a lead from a fishhook, amongst a host of other details required to make it all go safely.

I am abandoned, appalled, scared $hitless, and truly hope this report makes you ladies feel better about your own situations. Re-entering the workplace after 40 sucks; no-one wants a middle aged woman, even if her credentials are stellar. I've also been handling this all with no assistance, I am pretty burned out. Spend every evening looking for work in a very small town, my saving thought is that my father offered to me to come home,ie, I have a home with him any time I need or want. We lost Mom to lung cancer 4 years ago, and he's managing alone. It's hard on him. And I miss him.

That's what I know. Hope it gets better - I know it will, as life always changes. WE're in the down-turn right now, but, as it must always change, one day the change will be for the better. It's mathematically conceivable.

Hang in there, and make the right decisions.


Posts: 18
Joined: Mar 2010

Hi Heartbroken,

I can't say that I know exactly what is wrong with him but I went through a similar situation. I was diagnosed with cancer a year after I met my husband (boyfriend at the time). Everything was fine the first couple of months but then out if no where I began feeling resentment and anger towards him. He tried to be by my side after my treatments and I pushed him away every single time. He would come over to visit me and I would completely ignore him and sometimes even asked him to leave. I couldn't even stand him touching me, to the point where I had to move to another seat if I felt his leg touching my leg. A few times I even told him I didn't want to be with him, even after seeing him cry and beg for me not to leave him. I look back now and I see what a monster I was with him. I was extra nice to everyone but I was the worst person ever with him. After remission, it took me months to finally start acting like myself and treating him with the respect that he deserved. I haven't fully understood why I was so mean to him but I think that I used him as my punching bag. I wanted to be angry at someone and I chose him because in a way I knew that he would never leave me no matter what. We are happily married now but I hurt him a lot during my dark days and I regret everything I ever did or said to him. I found it really hard not treat him the way I did and I realize now that I should have gone through therapy to avoid hurting the person that I loved.

I don't know if your husband is going through a similar situation as the one I went through, but therapy may be a good idea. It's best that you find out if it's just the cancer trauma that is causing him to act that way or if there's another problem. Remember that everyone responds differently to cancer, both physically and emotionally. I wish you the best and hope that things get better for you two.


Posts: 16
Joined: Feb 2013

Susy, your report gave me hope in my currently impossible situation. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your insights, as they may weigh heavily into the decisions facing me in the coming time.

Congratualtions on your marriage, and I wish for you both that illness doesn't cast it's shadow upon your lives again. *sigh* I love happy endings.

Best, Petie

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