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Boyfriend with vocal cord cancer

Posts: 1
Joined: Aug 2013

Hi everyone:


I'm new to this site and just looking for some advice.  My boyfriend was diagnosed with vocal cord cancer 3 months after we met.  He went for 6 weeks of radiation and at his 2 month follow up after the radiation, the tumor looked exactly the same.  Next was surgery, he had a partial laryngectomy in June, terrible recovery - trach, feeding tube, his voice was barely a whisper.  Next follow up in July the surgeon said there still showed some irregular (not cancer...yet) cells in the area and he wanted to go back in and this time do a staged surgery, which means he will have an open hole in his neck for weeks..besided the hole already in his neck for the trach.  This has been hard on the relationship, we can't talk on the phone, our only communication is through text, he's been distant with me and the last month or so i felt like he was pushing me away.  he ended it with me a couple of weeks ago saying that he is not happy in the relationship, was very cold about it, just not himself.  He doesn't respond to me anymore and i am just trying to figure out what to do.  His next surgery is in 2 weeks and i feel like i want to go to be there to support him.  I have been there for him this whole time, sleeping in the hospital, reassuring him that i will always be there.  How can you tell if someone is pushing you away because they are trying to protect you or if they really just don't have feelings for you anymore?  If he wasn't going through what he's been going through i would just walk away but i can't help but think that maybe he was trying to give me an out because maybe he thought i wouldn't have left on my own. He is the love of my life, never once through any of this did it occur to me to walk away.   If anyone has been through a similar situation i would love to hear from you.


Thank you. :)

phrannie51's picture
Posts: 4673
Joined: Mar 2012

a few months ago who was in the same boat.....cancer found after a short relationship, and he too was pushing her away.  This is such an awful recovery, and your boyfriend hasn't even gotten to the recovery stage, yet, as they're still working to get all the cancer and irregularities out of the way.  There is no doubt in my mind he is depressed and has no idea what the future holds for him. 

Keep on caring about him....send a card to let him know you're thinking about him, but other than that leave him be....keep your expectations low....he has months and months of recovery still....he may turn around and be grateful you stuck by him, but it's iffy.....Men are different than women when it comes to devastating illness....they go into their man caves and hunker down.  The guys here can tell you more about what he may be thinking, than I can.....


fishmanpa's picture
Posts: 1217
Joined: Jan 2013

That's what it was! Yes, a very similar post. At any rate, P is right. Cancer is stressful on even the solid and long term relationships let alone a budding romance. Let him know you're there if he needs you but rrobably best to respect his wishes. 


debbiejeanne's picture
Posts: 3095
Joined: Jan 2010

WELCOME!  sorry u have to be here.  i had the same cancer as him and had radiation.  it came back 1.5 yrs later and i had a complete laryngectomy w/2 neck disections.  it is a very hard recovery.  i actually developed a fistula (hole in skin due 2 rads) which complicated recovery.  i hope he won't have that problem.  my recovery from surgeries took me about 4 months.  during that time i kinda went into myself.  i knew everyone cared but nobody really knew what i had been thru r was going thru.  i truly felt all alone.  this may be what your boyfriend is feeling.  having holes in our necks makes us know that we r now very different.  you make it sound like his holes are temporary.  thats great!  mine is permanent.  he is depressed i'm sure.  i know i sure was.  you will just have to b patient with him and give him his space  :0(  i hope he comes around.  tell him about this site and encourage him to get on.  let him know there r people here w/the SAME cancer and has been thru what he has.  this is a great place for info and support.  the people on here truly care and do all they can to answer questions and help someone get thru a time of anxiety.  i hope he will join.  we would welcome him w/open arms and gladly answer any questions he might have.  i wish u both the best.  please let us know how it turns out.


hwt's picture
Posts: 2330
Joined: Jun 2012

Sorry to hear of your boyfriend's cancer. Sometimes when we feel anger or frustration we take it out on those we care most about.  Let him know that you want to be by his side and you are just a call away. Sadly, we all have to travel this journey in our own way. 

Posts: 1
Joined: Jun 2015

Show him your posted note.  My boyfriend (now my husband) did the same thing, pushed me away.  I think it was really a test to see if I truly cared...for better or worse, sort of speak.  Good luck.

Posts: 2
Joined: Nov 2016

My husband was diagnosed 8 yrs ago with left vocal cord cancer he had 8 weeks of Radiation and 6 weeks of Chemo. He faithfully followe up with his ENT all of those years and was considered cured. About a year ago his voice start going out on him we thought it might be his job he's constantly talking on the radio in a loud voice due to noise. He went back to his ENT who did a scope and couldnt find anything and reffered him to gastro for testing to see if his reflux was causing the problem that test came back clear and the Dr. noted radiation burns on his left vocal cord and some swelling by this time he had almost absolutely no voice so there was no possibility for him to work backto his ENT e went who became frustrated scoped again didn't see anything and took him off work for a week. He advised speech therapy. Didn't work back to ENT to get another note for work and see our options he refused the note was a total *** and finally referered us to a Head and Neck Surgeon at UCI who scoped then biopsied and found the tumor had come back. Imediately scheduled for surgery to remove tumor we were adamant no larengectomy etc. What was supposed to be a 2 hour surgery turned into a 5 hour surgery and the Dr. ended up doing a partil laregectomy. They admitted my husband for a 24 hr post op hold which turned into a nightmare. The Dr. wasn't availble because he had left for vacation. My poor husband had the worst post-op care to numerous to mention. We went back for follow up and his comment was that he tried to get it all but would now have to do a total larengectomy and told us partial details about it we had already read about it and my husband had decided he did not absolutely want it done. Well the Dr. proceds to tell us about getting schduled. We said no we were going for a 2nd opinion. Unfortunately he gave us the name of a Dr. at City of Hope that he knew who again said he had no options. We asked what grade it was and her comment was what does it matter it needs to be taken out. We said NO again and now I am at a loss as to how to reseach ideas for conservative or follow up treatment without my husband having the larengectomy. Reading the op report and path report my gut tells me theres another choice. Any ideas or suggestions out there? Please. Sorry this is so long.


caregiver wife
Posts: 153
Joined: Oct 2016

Sorry you are under such circumstances.  I am sorry I have no help to offer as I am not familiar at all with the situation you are describing.

You have posted this to an old thread.  I would suggest you repost this info as a "new thread" so more will be likely to read it.

Best Wishes,


Mrs. Sarge
Posts: 206
Joined: Apr 2012

I advise would be the only way to go.  Massachusetts General is a head and neck cancer specialty hospital or MD Anderson, if either is close enough.  Please check out all possibilities!

Posts: 760
Joined: Apr 2012

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