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It’s gotten out of control

Minifig
Posts: 2
Joined: Mar 2018

My husband was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer one year ago at age 37. We have two small children. 

I love my husband, and I’ve been by his side through everything this past year. But something has changed, I am wondering if it is the daily dose of dexamethasone added; aside from the IV dose of the steroid that he gets every two weeks with his chemo regimen of FOLFOXIRI plus avastin. Things have been getting incrementally worse, more yelling, more days where he won’t speak to anyone. He refuses therapy, says he’s fine. i text his friends weekly to come over and maybe take him out to lunch.  He always says he is fine. Even beating cancer! Which he isn’t. But for the past few weeks he has been intensely angry- mostly directed at me.It Has escalated to him strangling me and screaming he wants me dead. my first instinct was to call the police, and he was arrested. I feel terrible, I didn’t want it to get this bad. He has no remorse and truly thinks I am attacking him because I hate him.  And that couldn’t be further from the truth. I don’t know how to cope with this. Or how to help my husband. 

Trubrit's picture
Trubrit
Posts: 5218
Joined: Jan 2013

Have you talked to his Oncologist about this behaviour? That would certainly be the first thing on my list. He may need meds to calm him. He may need an adjustment to the chemo meds he is getting. This is serious buisiness. When he is actually physically attacking you, something needs to be done. 

I am so sorry for this added anguish.  If he is not willing to help himself, then you must go ahead and see if you can work with his Oncolgoist. 

I know when he is back to his right self, he will be horrified at his behaviour. 

I wish you the best. Be sure to protect yourself by getting immediete help. 

Tru

Pamcakes
Posts: 104
Joined: Jan 2018

I am very sorry for the situation your family is going through. My DH age 38 was also diagnosed at stage 4  in July. He has remained very positive, but when he first started chemo the first 3 cycles were bad. At one point he tried to pull the pump out of his port. He never got physical or mean towards me, but is was escalating each cycle. We told the oncologist and he took away a lot of the steroid dosagE. This made a world of difference. Not sure if that will help you husband, that is just our experiencE. this is hard on everyone involved and I hope your family and husband can get some help to deal with this. maybe your husband may be willing to go to therapy or some support after this Last instance? Also maybe consider some sort of support for yourself and children. I don't know thatvtherapy is the answer, but some sort of outlet. Many prayers and thoughts to you and family. 

Slow-runner
Posts: 55
Joined: Oct 2017

I am so sorry that you are dealing with this. Such a significant personality change should be bought to your doc's attention pronto.  Steroids are tough, I work with asthmatic kids and steroids make some of them bounce off the walls.  Good luck and I hope he is back to his baseline self soon.

Annabelle41415's picture
Annabelle41415
Posts: 6547
Joined: Feb 2009

So sorry that you are going through.  First off you need to talk to his doctor especially if he is strangling you.  If you called the police then the doctor also has to know this as there could be something going on that is causing some type of imbalance.  People on treatment do sometimes tend to get tense and irritable, but never once did my temper flare as to hurt my husband.  Please let us know how you are doing.  Wishing the situation with you and your husband gets better.

Kim

Mikenh's picture
Mikenh
Posts: 777
Joined: Oct 2017

Cancer is very, very tough, both for the person who has it and any caregivers. I could imagine it causing a break with reality (psychosis) or other wild emotions. My emotions were all over the place and my wife told me about what I was like. Moody, reclusive, sometimes in denial, depressed (though not clinically). It sounds like your husband should, at the very least, be in counseling. It might be the meds that he is on but it sounds like he could use some counseling anyways. I imagine that any psychotherapist would also have access to a psychiatrist in case meds are recommended.

Cancer is hard on kids too, particularly young children.

plsletitrain
Posts: 253
Joined: Jul 2017

Maybe your husband needs to undergo some counseling because he may be manifesting some signs of depression.  Maybe he took it very hard (the cancer) and it took a toll on his emotional stability.  Having cancer is not easy, and I definitely understand if patients get depressed.  Please try to understand him more, this is just a phase, hopefully.  Protect yourself but not try not to leave him at this point, he needs you.  Just my (un)solicited advice.

Ruthmomto4's picture
Ruthmomto4
Posts: 662
Joined: May 2013

i am also a wife, my husband is stage 4 as well. my husband was a very quiet guy, never really yelled at me or raised his voice. Our arguments were usually me yelling, I am loud by nature. On chemo he has never been physically aggressive I think if he did I would leave, but he has been pretty mean, crabby, just really angry and not himself. I think it’s got a lot to do with the steroids because it goes away 2-3 days after he stops them

please get some help, talk to his dr and anyone else that can help you. Putting his hands on you is never ok.

Annabelle41415's picture
Annabelle41415
Posts: 6547
Joined: Feb 2009

I'm thinking that could be a good possibility as being on the steroids were so hard on me.  Not only are they hard on the system by you feel like an energizer bunny getting no sleep and wired all the time, plus the chemo drugs and it's a combination of so many things battling inside you just sometimes don't know what to feel.  A caregiver has to have a heart of gold when dealing with a patient as there are many emotions going through that person. 

Kim

optimist777
Posts: 38
Joined: Feb 2018

Minifig, I'm so sorry for you.  Remember your not dealing with your rational pre-chemotherapy husband.  Oxaliplatin, Avastin, plus steroids, have enormous mind-altering affects.  I'm sometimes amazed these drugs ever even got FDA approval, due to the psychological affects.  From what I've witnessed in the chemo wards, and all the cancer patients I have befriended over the years, I've noticed you get a wide range of emotional responses to these drugs.  However, many young men, often the youngest and healthest, seem to be hit pretty hard with rage and anger while on these drugs.  (I can't give you a good percentage, but maybe 50%?)  I sadly remember seeing one young male colon cancer patient throwing one of those rollable IV infusion machines at one of the nurses and security had to be called at the hospital-- so sad.  This was at the hospital, imagine how out of control he must have been at home.  One interesting thing, anecdotally I've noticed is older men often struggle hard as well, but often it will be more depression based, crying, that sort of thing. 

It puts you in a very tough spot, because unlike the wife of an illegal drug user who chooses to put a toxic substance in their body to get high-- and then gets uncontrollably violent-- your husband is not choosing to put these drugs in their body, but forced to by his health circumstances.  While the anger is likely outside his control, it is completely unacceptable, and you need to protect yourself and your kids.

I've battled stage4 CRC for many years myself and was diagnosed very young at 35.  Personally I have redirected stress from these drugs in a positive way through exercise, but I know I'm unusal in that respect, and not everyone is able to do that.  Here is some practical advice for you:

At this point I don't think talking with a therapist, taking (more drugs) anti anxiety meds, or even having him talk with friends is the right answer-- he sounds too angry for any of that.  If I was in your shoes, I would go to my oncologist, or find other, and consider taking lower doses of these chemo drugs, or better yet, switching Irinotecan for Oxaliplatin and Avastin.  He really needs to be exercising a lot as well if he has so much anger, which will greatly help reduce his stress load.  Also try to lower his carb and sugary foods.  While most cancer patients do better with the interaction of family and friends, it is not unusual for some cancer patients to just want to be left alone.  Some do better this way.  I think if you still love your husband, and if financially possible, the best thing for you to do would be for him or you and the kids to move out, yet stop by once or twice a day maybe with some food to support him, but best leave him to himself.  If he starts feeling better, and his personality approves, you can consider moving back in with him.  Remember the good times from the past, and never give up hope.  Take care. 

Minifig
Posts: 2
Joined: Mar 2018

i am so unbelievably appreciative of everyone who took the time to write to me. I did call his oncologist- only to be out on the do not speak to list and my husband filed it as harassment. I was also just served with divorce papers- I am at a loss. I never would have left him, no matter what. I love him. He just needs help and won’t stop for a second to think hey- I might need help. He just blames me. And I do understand that wth steroid rage or the like, his anger is very real, he does truly believe I am doing this to him. Now I have unforeseen legal fees and two children to care for and I am really struggling. I want to help him and I am also Still afraid for my own safety. 

beaumontdave's picture
beaumontdave
Posts: 1069
Joined: Aug 2013

Harsh as it may be, you and the kids have to come first here. If he won't get help, you need to be safe. I've never seen these steroids cause that reaction, but who knows? Combined with the depression that he's surely suffering, anything seems possible. If you can get some councelling regarding your situation, you should. Professional guidance might help cofirm the choices you have to make. I'm sorry this awful diagnosis is being compounded by this anger, and I hope it gets resolved, but until then you and your children find a safe place to be, he and his doctors need to find the answers without your being at risk............................Dave

Mikenh's picture
Mikenh
Posts: 777
Joined: Oct 2017

I'm an older guy and I've had some dark moments and I would call it temporary depression, but not clinical.

I looked at a paper on outcomes of singles vs married cancer and divorce during cancer is irrational. Any cancer patient needs support whether spouse, parent, child, neighbor or friend. And it makes a big difference. My wife, kids and a close friend have helped me out in numerous ways physically, with care, food, drink, support and laughter. It seems like you need to care for yourself and your two kids right now.

Married patients were less likely to present with metastatic disease (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 0.83; 95% CI, 0.82 to 0.84; P < .001), more likely to receive definitive therapy (adjusted OR, 1.53; 95% CI, 1.51 to 1.56; P < .001), and less likely to die as a result of their cancer after adjusting for demographics, stage, and treatment (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.79 to 0.81; P < .001) than unmarried patients. These associations remained significant when each individual cancer was analyzed (P < .05 for all end points for each malignancy). The benefit associated with marriage was greater in males than females for all outcome measures analyzed (P < .001 in all cases). For prostate, breast, colorectal, esophageal, and head/neck cancers, the survival benefit associated with marriage was larger than the published survival benefit of chemotherapy.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4878087/

Read that last sentence again!

 

abita's picture
abita
Posts: 830
Joined: Dec 2017

It might be that married men are more likely to get the tests and discover before spread because the spouse urges them and/or the need to make sure to maintain health and getting these tests since responsible for children. I am single and my family and friends are excellent caregivers.

Trubrit's picture
Trubrit
Posts: 5218
Joined: Jan 2013

Not good! 

I am glad you still love him. One day, maybe, he will be glad of it. Right now though, you move on forward with YOUR life and take care of yourself and those children. 

I just had a major financial setback. Not like yours, of course, but a blow to much needed revenue. It hurts inside to think of so many things, especially finances. No getting past the rocky road your moving along. There is a saying that I just had framed, that helps 

Flow with whatver may happen and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing... - Zhuangzi

That has got me through a few rough patches.

I wish you the best.  

Tru

Annabelle41415's picture
Annabelle41415
Posts: 6547
Joined: Feb 2009

Awww divorce papers too.  That even sounds a little excessive as well.  I'm sure that he is going to miss you and will realize that he has made a big mistake once this is over with.  Treatments are very hard on the caregiver as well - probably most of all as they have to be caregiver and the rock.  I'm sorry to hear all that you are going through.  I'm wishing you the best and please let us know how you are doing.

Kim

KarenMG's picture
KarenMG
Posts: 109
Joined: Jun 2017

I'm sure that the research that shows married people having a better chance of surviving cancer did not include a marriage frought with abuse. Don't feel obligated to stay with him and "help" him when he is abusing you. No way! I'm so sorry this is happening to you and your children. You must get away and keep them and yourself safe first. He is obviously suffering from steroid rage and cannot think right. He hopefully will recover one day and come back sincerely apologizing. Unfortunately, I would never be able to forget that he was capable of strangling me! So sad.

I pray that you and your children can get a stable situation to live in and that things get much better for you.

plsletitrain
Posts: 253
Joined: Jul 2017

I'm sorry this has taken a drastic turn.  I just hope he gets back to his senses and realize that it won't do good to anyone, you, the kids, and most especially him for a divorce at this time.  Just wanted to share my story: I myself was almost left by my husband for two times already.  I don't want to blame it on the cancer because couples that don't have cancer also fight.  But I was enlightened by an advice from my family: this is NOT the best time to be separated.  I have cancer, we have small kids...the stress that the separation will cause will just augment whatever suffering I was feeling.  I was adviced to let down of my pride, I accepted that I was wrong and asked forgiveness from my husband and to be honest, I can't imagine today without him.  He has been my rock, my nurse, my punching bag...everything.  I regret that I ever wanted him out of my life.  I hope one day your husband gets to realize this.

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