Spouses response to diagnosis

I was diagnosed with ER positive cancer on 31st March, and was prescribed Letrozole. When I told my husband, he didn’t say much at all, apart from ‘oh bloody hell’, and ‘well it can’t be that bad if they’ve sent you home with tablets’. He seems to think that because I’m not having chemo, it’s just a formality of taking the pills then it goes away. When I’ve told friends and extended family, they have all been really concerned. It’s not that I want people to be devastated and fuss over me all the time, but after my husband’s reaction, I feel as though I’m making more of the diagnosis than I should be? Does that make sense? Am I over-estimating how serious it is?

Bakerpat Sorry you find yourself on here. It can be massive shock for partners when you get diagnosed, you are flung into appointments, treatments and the journey and it feels like you are in the coach on way to catch the plane and they are still on the sun lounger by the pool. They can go into denial a bit and they look like they are carrying on as normal and that’s what they want you to think because they want to treat you like you because you are still you (if that makes sense) keep the communication going, tell them when you are through this you want to plan a cruise or holiday you’ve always wanted to do, thank them for care and support because it’s their journey too Jump on here for :two_women_holding_hands: everyone will help, support and care as much as we can Try the someone like me option that might help too :two_hearts: :two_hearts: :sparkles: :sparkles: Shi xx

Hi bakerpat

You don’t say if the hormone therapy is a temporary treatment until this c-19 crisis is over and it’s safe to have you visit the hospital for surgery, radiotherapy and/or chemo. I do know some women are having their treatments in reverse order. But, in any case, a diagnosis of breast cancer is a diagnosis of breast cancer - there’s no hierarchy of importance!

I got very mixed messages from my husband and found myself trying to protect him. I would get friends to take me to appointments and to chemo and it was a while before I realised my husband felt excluded. He was brilliant looking after me (and I needed a lot of that) and very considerate but he wouldn’t talk to me about cancer. Matters came to a head months after my treatment had finished. I realised he was vomiting in the mornings (when I was asleep) and sometimes at night. I lured him into accepting some 1 to 1 counselling sessions at the hospital, offered for carers. What a transformation. I learnt how fearful he was of losing me, how he couldn’t get past certain dark moments I experienced that I was unaware of (eg the nurses stripped off my dressing because I was still bleeding after surgery - in his presence so he saw the full glory of my fresh surgical wound and mutilated chest!) and he learnt to share some of his dark thoughts.

I think my point is, as I waffle, that men who generally don’t share their thoughts and emotions don’t change and in fact may shut down. It’s a kind of denial because otherwise they have to face their fears. Some actually think they are helping us by minimising their reaction. Support services may not be available right now but drawing your husband as an equal partner into your experience of breast cancer may help. Ideally he should have been with you for that appointment on 31st but I presume he wasn’t allowed. Hormone therapy isn’t just taking tablets - your body chemistry is going to change. Make him part of that? And share your fears and worries. Otherwise you may end up feeling resentful and angry and he may end up literally sick with worry. 

You have every right to be fearful, even though recovery rates from breast cancer are very good. Your emotions will be on a rollercoaster and you need him with you, even if it’s to keep you grounded. Breast cancer of any kind is s***. Good luck xx