How to get my partner to understand

I am 38, 3 kids (2, 6, 8) and just about to step onto the rollercoaster of 6 FEC, rads and tamox.
My problem is that my husband is unable to understand what I am going through and I really don’t feel supported by him at the moment.
He is angry at me for taking time off work (called me a skiver and that I wasn’t really sick), and wanted me to work through it all. I on the other hand think 3 kids and all those meds is enough and we can afford it, and I will get sick pay. He has now apologised for this, but last night he then started up with, well with all this time off you can arrange an extension on the house, when I said no, he then said are you going to be super house wife then!!! I just feel that he has totally unrealistic expectations, and is putting pressure on me, when I don’t need it. I am worried that he in fact will expect me to take on more of the childcare so that he can spend more time at work, and less time trying to juggle the kids and house.
Advice, help anyone?

I feel for you it’s hard enough when you have TOTAL support, I too have kids I am 48 and have 2 one is 9 - nearly 10- (and autistic & dyspraxic so x normal child work load by 3!!!) the other just 8. The hard thing is for people, even familly and friends, that we do look ok… I even found that hard myself!!! I had 3 FEC & 3 TAX during the summer and managed quite well others get on better, others worse it is an individual journey… will he come with you whilst you have the chemo, I think it helped my husband see it differently… and he is very supportive… I have had BC twice once without kids and now and throw in 3 little ones like yours and it’s hard!!! Don’t fall into the trap of doing what you can’t or it will be expected that you do it and more??? Make sure he see’s you at your worst, don’t get up and deal with stuff in the night …get him up…take a back seat and concentrate on your self… you didn’t say if you had any other treatment yet …surgery etc.??? You must also think is he scared by deneying that you are ill it won’t be true… head in the sand maybe??? Mine admitted that he used to cry when I went out and worried just as much as me but in a different way??? will he talk about it??? sorry waffling on …fell free to PM me anytime XXXXX J

Hi Small1 what an upsetting post at a time like this you really do need your partner/hubby to be there for you sorry but his reaction is awful it has made me really angry, coping with children that age is hard enough without bc on top of things.
I suppose we have to give him the benefit of the doubt here and think this is just his way of coping with things but he is screwing up big time so far!
My hubby really struggled with the news early days he was just so upset and couldn’t talk I ordered the ‘In it together’ for partners of people with breast cancer booklet from breast cancer care and that seems to have helped him
Peoples reactions are hard to cope with I do hope that he comes through for you if not we will all come and sort him out for you!

hi small, first or all ask hubby if he would like 2 swap places with u? think not. he,s prob scared but no excuse! u need the time off with a young family, its not sick leave 4 a cold for gods sake. i have 2 boys, 5 and 14. had it easy cos didnt have chemo, just rads and tam. bloody hard tho. i worked round rads but that was my choice and yes i was knackered but my kids are older than yours. tell him 2 read the forums. sorry getting cross about unthinking OH, not uncaring but how dare they put any more pressure on u at the mo! love alex xxxxx

Hi small my hubby found it hard to understand at first as I looked so well but since attending all my appointments with me and listening to the BCN and the Dr he understands a bit more.

Also he has said recently that he felt that “by ignoring it it would go away” and feels awful now about that and talks to me about it now where he didn’t at first.

I think maybe your husband is really scared he may be left with 3 young children on his own, so if you can get him to attend at least one appointment he may begin to understand what to expect when the treatment starts and what the awful SE’s are.

I am so sorry that you are having this struggle ontop of your major one but as has already been said once your treatment starts don’t do more than you can comfortably do, the housework will still be there when your treatment finishes.

I wish you all the very best and sending you some cyber hugs to use when you need one so that you know someone out there is thinking of you in times of need:

((((HUG)))) ((((HUG)))) ((((HUG)))) ((((HUG))))

Jean xx

sorry alix, just read my post and it sounds really harsh! didnt mean it to sound that way, just so feel for you. not bad mouthing OH but sometimes they do your head in!(or maybe just mine!)pm me any time, im a bit older at 42! love alex xxx

Hi Alix,

Here’s the link to BCC’s publication ‘In it together’

Hope this helps. Take care,
Jo, Facilitator

Dear Alix,
That sounds really tough to cope with.
We always have to consider that our partners or family find it hard to process mentally and emotionally, and it must be more difficult for them when we “look so well”
At 9 months after chemo I have just got to the stage when I respond to “You look so well” with a beam and “And I finally feel well now”
You really need him to be better informed to support you better through chemo, and one good starting point would be if you get a Chemo School session, explaining it all, to which you should invite him to come.
Or ask him to come with you to the first actual chemo, as you are not sure about your driving afterwards, and phone the chemo unit to explain your problem/phone your Breast Cancer Nurse and ask her to explain it.
My OH was very supportive throughout chemo, but it is easier for us as we are retired old farts and have the time, and he had got used to me being ill before. Have to say then (and I looked soooo well then too) he was very unsympathetic until I was put on oxygen in hospital. Kept saying “But you helped me load the dishwasher into the car 3 days ago!” to which the only answer was “I was telling you I couldn’t really manage it!”
Best of luck!

Hi Alix

You make get off relatively lightly with chemo side-effects (I was able to work almost normally for two weeks out of three for the first cycles - but that’s much easier than coping with 3 young children, and it got steadily harder!), but you may not. You can’t predict how you will cope as everyone reacts differently and certain effects, like tireness, are cumulative.

Even if you do have minimal SEs, that’s no excuse for your OH’s attitude. I hope that it’s a result of ignorance and fear, rather than total insensitivity. OH needs to realise that it’s best to plan for you to be totally wiped out, then if you’re not, it’s a bonus!
And as if the physical stuff wasn’t enough to cope with, BC messes with your head as well as your body!

Take care and good luck.

Hi Ali / Alix

I read your post and was also very angry at first that your oh could be so insensitive and harsh but it may be as others have said that he just doenst know how to deal with it and is scared but doesnt want to show hes scared. Men are not always very good at this sort of thing. My Hubby used inappropriate humour a lot with me (still does a bit) because a) he wanted to make me laugh/cheer me up and b)thats his way of dealing with it but i know him and i know he has been hurting. I hope this is the case with your oh and you find a way to talk about it and support each other through this horrendous time despite how good/bad side effects are its still horrible having to deal with this

Thinking of you
Clare xx

Hi Alix

Oooh your post really made me sad and mad at the same time!!!

I really feel for you at this time. My husband is totally supportive of me and our children are not small. I agree with Clare and maybe he is scared and doesn’t know how to deal with what is happening to you. BC has turned our worlds upside down and inside out, have you and your husband talked about how you both feel.

Have you had any surgery yet? that wiped me out for a start!!!

Has he been to any appointments with you or talked to the Drs or The BCN?

Maybe if he understands a bit more things will get easier for you and yours.

Wishing all the best wishes M

Hi Alix
It is so important that you face this together and that your OH understands what you are facing and how it is likely to affect you mentally as well as physically.
Was he generally supportive before your diagnosis?
I think it would be a good idea for you ti discuss it with your Breast Cancer Nurse. I’m sure they will have come across this before.
Don’t forget it will also have an impact on your children too, no matter how young they are.
Good luck. Have you got support from other close family and friends?

Many thanks for all of your comments. Yes at first I would say he was supportive and was very worried regarding the diagnosis, but I think he sort of feels cancer cut out, node clear, job done and that all of the rest is a doddle. I have spoken with the bcn who suggested that the nurses who do the chemo chat with him, but I have no idea when that will be. I think he will be there for my first chemo, but I think only because I was crying about doing it in my own. Ho hum…


I asked my husband to come with me to the first chem so we could both understand what was going on and also because I knew I wouldn’t remember everything that was said. Since then I’ve gone on my own and taken a book, because to be honest there is a lot of hanging about.
I think it’s important he goes with you when you have your appt with the Oncologist a. to support you. b; so he can understand how it is likely to affect you.
Keep us posted on here. It’s a good place to let off steam to others who understand how you feel.

I really feel for you Ali, it’s very lonely having cancer because I really do think noone can understand unless they’ve had it themselves.

I think that OH’s have a rough time too emotionally and mentally and men being men, they don’t always show it in constructive ways, just in ways that alienate us and make it seem very selfish. As a mate of mine said, they just aren’t always wired the same way - sweeping generalisation but some truth in it.

Also, I feel and have felt waaaaay more sensitive than I was pre-diagnosis, so I’m more prone to be bothered by little things and blow them up in my mind.

It could be that he’s a bit in denial. My OH broke down at one point and said that he was just terrified of losing me and couldn’t comprehend what that would be like because he loves me so much. Then I felt like a right rotten cow for feeling angry with him at times. He just didn’t know how to express his feelings and was in denial for ages as a coping mechanism for him, not helpful to me at the time though :wink:

What cancer does is spread itself insidiously into some of our lives and weave it’s blackness through our families, friends and everything we know.

Hi Small

Sorry to be blunt here - your husband sounds like a complete insensitive b*****d. You have enough of your plate to think about without worrying about his feelings - pack his bags and tell him to take a very very long holiday in a jungle somewhere!!! Grrrrr

Daysie x

It is difficult for partners, but that does not excuse his attitude - expecting superwife and an extension?

One of the challenging issues with cancer is that prior to treatment starting, one can appear fit and healthy. Certainly for my wife all the illness was really as a result of treatment.

It may help if he could speak to someone - another partner maybe. Whereabouts are you? By all means PM me - I am happy for an email or two or if he wants and is local I am happy to meet him. That would have to be him willing.

Without a doubt he is in for a challenging time - I know I have more appreciation for what my wife just does without fuss on a daily basis.


Many thanks, I am at a bit of a loss as I feel that I have covered the same ground a few times, I assume part of it is that prior to this I am fit healthy and mentally very strong, so seeing my tears puts him at a loss. This morning he said he had read this, and he angril said I should write for the tabloids. Having thought about it all morning I think he doesn’t realise what he is saying, by that I mean his interpretation differs to mine, that maybe he just isn’t vocalising very well and it is all coming out wrong (possibly wishful thinking on my part) I think he is quite shocked by the strength of some of the replies, but maybe that is what he needs.

And yes I do feel lonely.

ali, your post made me so sad for you. i know how scared you must be. been there! just sending a big hug to you. aint easy with lil uns is it? lots of love, please PM me if you would like a chat? thinking of you, alex xxx

Hi Ali,

It’s very sad reading your post, it is true that everyone deals with things differently but that is no excuse for having no compassion.
Does he not realise that you are scared etc and at this time you need his support more than ever? After a bc diagnosis I do not think you can ever be the person you were before…so he will have to get used to that too!
Perhaps for the first time you will have to put yourself first, very difficult I know when you have young children.
You are about to start on a journey you will be superwoman, not just the kind he means but the one who works hard with her bc.
Don’t feel lonely, there is always someone here who will help whenever you need it. Very big hugs to you and tell him to grow up and that there are times when he has to be an adult and take responsibility, tell him to open his eyes and be with you!
Please take care xx