Relationship issues


I hope you are all well. I am posting here as I don’t know where else to turn. My husband hasn’t coped well with my diagnosis and as a result has done a couple of silly things both involving too much alcohol. It’s tested my friendships our marriage and it’s made my cancer feel like it’s a really low priority. I won’t go into too much detail because I don’t want to bore anyone but he’s going to go away for a few days next week to recharge which I think he needs. I have torn him to shred over his behaviour because if the things he did but he says he’s struggling to cope. He says he loves me but he just won’t spend any time with me and says he wants to meet people find a job etc but he doesn’t bother doing it and then moans about it. I’m a self employed singer and a mum and he’s the main carer for my son. I’ve helped him so much and he has been amazing he just seems to be spiralling into depression and now I am worried about him. He’s always on his phone and now the boys have gone off to tea at thier dads and he’s just carried on painting the kitchen so I’ve just gone out. I’m crying all the time because I love him so much but I dont think he wants to be with me anymore. He says we are not out of the woods yet and need to work on our marriage and we have only been married 9 months. Cancer has ruined us. I don’t know what to do or where to turn. Do I quit now to avoid delaying the inevitable and he leaves me? Or do I battle on? I feel like he’s no longer attracted to me or wants to be with me at all. Maybe I’m just paranoid? need to be strong to fight. Sorry for the rant. Any help would be appreciated. X

Hi Mrs Morley,


So sorry to hear you are having a hard time at the moment. I wasn’t sure when you had been diagnosed or how far you are through treatment so had a quick look at your other post. 


Firstly, breast cancer diagnosis does come as bit of a shock to us all. It takes awhile to register, refind our feet, comprehend the new you. While most of us on the forum do seem to feel a bit better once treatment has started, just knowing it’s being treated and getting into a pattern re treatment sessions etc, it’s sometimes after that when it really registers. From what I gather you are only 2 months on from diagnosis…so it’s perfectly natural that you will be feeling like your world has been shaken about a tad. You need to be kind and compassionate to yourself and try to do anything which gives you a breather.


Cancer diagnosis affects those close to us too in many ways, and often not in way we might have predicted…from your other post in June it sounds like your husband was, in your own words, extremely supportive back then. So I suspect he may not know how to process the thought of your diagnosis, he is probably some combination of worried and scared. He may also feel so concerned about any discomfort you may have had during treatment he might feel like he doesn’t want to risk hurting you in any way shape or form, which might be why he’s going off, drinking etc. A slight ostrich affect or even a weird not facing it form of denial? Clearly I’ve never met him so can only go upon how I understand bc diagnosis/treatment can affect others.


Given it sounds like he was supportive and you got on well until your bc journey began 2 months ago, plus you and your husband also have your sons needing attention and care, it seems as though this may be a temporary blip and resolvable. Does you husband have any close friends he can confide in and really talk to about how he feels? Or has he spoken to a counsellor? Would he consider posting on this forum in the partners section, where he could get to speak to others who have gone through bc without it being personal (and therefore no risk of it getting heated)? Or even phoning the bc phone line or Macmillan?


Have you tried talking calmly to him about the bc, and how he feels? I know it should be the other way round, particularly at the current time, but some people just can’t get their heads round a partners diagnosis and then behave in ways we wouldn’t have predicted.


By way of personal examples, neither my brother or my mother visited me when I was diagnosed and going through treatment. My brother sent a card saying why not do something I enjoy like painting…that was the extent to which he showed any care/concern! My partner was far away overseas for much of the time since his sister had been extremely unwell with lung cancer and mets, and he was helping support her 3 teenagers. When he returned he was rather absent for quite a few weeks. I almost thought it was over but knew he’d been really rattled by his sister’s severe lung cancer (with mets) and her subsequent loss just 5 days before my operation. It was quite some time later when he acknowledged that he just couldn’t process anything more back then. 5 years on and we are so much the stronger for it and talk openly about cancer to those around us to try to normalise it a tad in the wider world. I couldn’t even say the word cancer when I was first diagnosed!


Your partner carrying on painting the kitchen really does sounds like the behaviour of someone who doesn’t know what to do to help (for whatever reason), so turns to a single task which he can control and understand.


So, my view would be to stick with it, try talking to him about how he feels and see if you can find some mutual ground. While things are not going as smoothly as you’d like, try to be kind to yourself, do a few things you enjoy, and take each day as it comes.


You could also consider attending counselling together, where the counsellor could facilitate how you both feel about everything that bc may have thrown up in the air, which may help? Your hospital should be able to refer you to specialist cancer counselling…not sure if they would widen this to a partner attending with you? Might be worth asking. 


Or or are you able to take an afternoon out, just with your husband and go on a nice walk, and just try to reconnect a tad, without any pressure or distractions?


Do post again if you think any of us here can help. I’m sure others will post their support and views.


I hope things improve soonish. 


Seabreeze x





Hi MrsMorley


First, what an amazing response from Seabreeze! You’re going through a hugely demanding time, both physically and emotionally, and I can see your husband isn’t being the tower of strength you need right now. First though, you might start by working out how much of your interpretation (not the drinking obviously) stems from your own emotional turmoil - the fear he may no longer find you physically attractive, might leave you, that cancer has ruined your relationship - well, it’s sure messed up your lives for now but not necessarily forever. His reaction so far could be that of a very frightened and powerless man. Of course, he could just be a s*** and I’m being too generous. Only you’ll know the difference.


My husband has supported me in every practical way possible (and is still waiting on me hand and foot - I’m not going to complain!) but emotionally he made things harder for me because, while I was reconciled to what was going on and knew I just had to grit my teeth and get on with it, he was a mess. He was sick every morning for several months (he eventually admitted). He too has often avoided spending time with me but I put that down to his needing a break from the bc, which after all is not his illness. He’s never been good at expressing his emotions in any way and, after initially agreeing, he rejected the opportunity for counselling offered by the Haven. I’m going to confess that I am resorting to dishonest tactics now and I’ve persuaded him to come to a joint ‘meeting’ at the hospital about looking at life beyond bc - and he’s agreed. I’m hoping he will express some of the worries he has no outlet for and certainly won’t share with me. Knowing him, he is probably unaware of some of them. But someone who specialises in counselling couples affected by cancer may help him be more optimistic about the future. Otherwise, he’ll continue to watch me like a hawk and check every time I cough more than once!


Don’t write him off yet. Allow him that space that you don’t have the luxury of having but be assertive. He needs to understand that you can’t carry two lots of emotions - yours are hard enough right now - but you need him with you. Have you involved him in the treatments (lifts, hand-holding, overcoming his fears by seeing how normal everyone looks regardless of what’s going on)? I didn’t want my husband involved in my treatment, thinking it was doing him a favour - quite the reverse, he felt excluded, so I had to do a quick change of tactics. Have you talked to any of his friends who might support him? Have you explored what family support services the hospital offers? What about his role in supporting the boys? I’m really sorry you’re in this position. I do hope you find a way round it. You shouldn’t have to go through this alone but, in the end, you have to choose what’s in your own and your children’s best interests. 


Take care of yourself please x