I think the impact on intimacy and relationships after diagnosis and treatment is at last being recognised by the medical profession but support is still patchy. There is help available though and I agree with others on here that counselling could be really helpful for you. Looking through other posts in this group might also help you feel that you're not the only one going through this.
At no stage before, during or after my treatment was I asked how I felt about being diagnosed with cancer and my husband certainly wasn't asked. I do think there needs to be more pro-active help for couples at times like this. My final consultant appointment was simply a case of being told I had the all clear and was now back on the national screening programme and I did feel a bit as though I'd been cast adrift. I know NHS resources aren't limitless but I would have liked to have been offered or given information on counselling/support groups that were available to me. I've now, through my own efforts, started to get the support I need but it's nearly 9 years since I was diagnosed.
Good luck x
I think we can all relate to your feelings as we have probably all felt ugly and unsexy since BC. Even just having marital problems can knock you down. I separated from my husband before BC but I know however, that even if we'd still been together when BC came, that I do not regret splitting from him. There are many reasons for splitting with someone, and hopefully having cancer shouldn't be the main one (or for staying).
Can I tell you that I moved on from the split to find a new partner, who initially I thought was lacking in commitment and support, but going through this experience together has been the making of us. Our relationship and sex life is so much better since BC. It sounds corny but there are decent men out there and if your guy wasnt decent before, I doubt he ever will be.
You sound like a beautiful, sensitive person, who deserves in every way to be as happy as you can be. Your happiness is crucial to your child's wellbeing (that is the main reason I left, to enable me to be a better parent to my daugher) and I hope that is the direction you will feel able to take, either working it out with your man or going it alone, but aim for your own happiness. Dont doubt yourself, you are a strong person to have come this far.
rosebud454 - thanks for being understanding.
Thanks bahons2 - yes I spose its a big confidence knock. I want him to build me up but I guess I have to build me up myself. I had just hoped he would help me more. I like to think I would help him if something like this had happened to him.
Irene M - I dont think I´d like to have sex with him just to make do. I think he can make do himself! He´s not mad keen on sex, maybe before children. I have tried asking and he just says he doesnt want to do anything I dont want to do. I say the same thing and so no one ends up doing anything.
Hi Roxanne - I have no idea how to get separated in Spain. My child doesnt write English so it would be impossible going over to english education. I wouldnt earn enough to carry on living in this place so we´d have to move away from my child´s friends. I haven´t been happy for a long time, as you say, but I have to do what´s right for my child. What´s right for my child is the opposite of what´s right for me.
Imlauder - I´ve seen 2 counsellors. One was a really nice lady who was very sympathetic but didn´t really help, the other was a guy who basically said "it´s just a boob"!. I haven´t tried counselling since.
I rang BCC helpline today and spoke to an initially friendly lady who basically said she couldn´t help, (after 20 mins) 'I really have to terminate this call now', so I spose that didn´t really help either. Although at least it was 20 mins which is something after 5 years!!. I like to think I´m trying all options before I give up, buy the proverbial rowing boat and row out to the horizon. It seemed to be a problem with her that I lived in Spain so I thought then maybe bcc was funded by the NHS but I dont know. I paid for the call, obviously.
doodle32 - I know sex isnt just sex but i really cant see the fun in taking my clothes off. I´m all for mary poppins and find the fun in the job at hand but sometimes you just cant.
quarteter - I cant imagine life on my own because of my child who also has serious health problems. I havent worked in ages and its a recession. I would earn peanuts to start with and it would rupture the relationship and then that might affect my health and what would be the point in dying just to save face?
Tuesday - im sorry bout your husband. Mine doesnt have a lover as such but he has an all consuming hobby. I dont see much difference really. At least if it were another woman I could go into combat mode, but I cant fight the hobby! I have asked him, as you suggest, if it will last and he says yes. He said prob not last year. So i guess something must be getting better.
I´m going to post this now because ive written quite a lot and im worried it might delete. Will post again in a minute.
i was diagnosed two years ago last month. my marriage was in a mess before then but i would have put up with it cos i thought i loved him and we also have two kids together. (i also live in spain btw).
anyhow, the whole cancer journey taught me that i didn't actually love him and that he hadn't ever loved me. sex was the glue that held our marriage together and i wasn't happy in that marriage.
he was supportive initially when i went for surgery but that was only because he thought i was dying.
cancer makes you address your life and the issues in it. it also makes others consider their feelings for you. with him, it made him realise that he had taken me for granted. for me, it made me realise that 20 years of compromise was enough.
we're still separated 2 years on and he still refuses to accept it's over.
you owe it to yourself as a survivor to ensure that you don't waste the rest of the life you have been granted being unhappy. it's a god given right. don't give your partner the power to put you down. you had the strength to fight cancer and now you must apply the same strength to create the life you need to make you happy.
I just wanted to say i think at some point in each of our journey we all have felt unloved unattractive not understood, it is hard when it comes to sex i never wanted my partner to see my boobs after my op and he wouldnt touch them he said it was because he was frightend of hurting me. We are fine now. But sex just isnt about intercourse how about going for a meal talking having cuddles and things take it away from the bedroom do something you both enjoy start dating again have a bit of fun everything else will come after im sure. lots of love and hugs
love Leslee xx
Just wanted you to know I had read, and will post more later. I have read this thread and send you a big hug!
Hi everyone who responded to my thread. Thanks very much. I was too embarassed, given the nature of the thread to come back and talk to everyone just after. SO its now January!!! But that doesnt mean I dont appeciate everyone answering and I have read every single word. Nothing here has changed. We probably haven´t had sex for 2 and a half years now. I don´t feel attractive and he makes no moves so I can only guess he doesnt find me attractive.
We have separate rooms because I don´t sleep well and am up a lot during the night.
There is no counselling in spain. I went to see a male psychologist and he just looked at me and said he didnt believe I didnt think i was attractive. It wasn´t helpful and he didnt understand at all.
Im afaid I am too proud to make the first move. I have been through a hell of a lot and I think it is his turn to make me feel special, in the same way I have always made him feel special before BC. He owes me dont you think? Why should I go out of my way to make him feel sexy when I´m the one who´s body has been cut up, chopped off and hormonally rearranged?
How long does this nightmare go on? Why can´t he be human and kind and caring? The three simplest things in the world.
Maz - I don't think you are selfish. why should a passionless life be the legacy of BC? I can't bear the thought of a sexless life, though it is my current reality and I am sure it does not help my recovery! But, i think it is not all about you, or me or any of us - sometimes guys just feel fed up with the deal they find themselves sharing. My gorgeous, selfish Manchild is a case in point. He was never going to be there in sickness or bad times - he signed up for passion and fun! He could have stayed on - sullen and grudging but you know what, that would not have made either of us happy. I actually told mine that I could not live with him like a sister because I wanted him so much, he could not desire a damaged body. So....may not work for you and you need to know you can live with the consequences but you could ask him in a non threatening way (when he is driving, in the dark, while walking) if he still wants you, or you could risk the embarrassment of making the first move (did that, was humiliating to be rejected but I did not die of it) . Alternatively try appreciating him - maybe he needs to feel desired too and wonders where that sexy woman he married has gone? Confidence is sexy!
Point is; life is not fair, it is tough but if you want things to change, for good or ill you need to take action
It's a pity more men don't post on here, because apart from Terry's input we don't know much about how men feel when their partner has BC. I think most men are just like little boys really, all looking for their mum, and when they're not the centre of attention anymore they find it hard to cope. Obviously not all of them are the same and my OH gave me tremendous support. I suppose as you get older (I'm 64) you realise that a "fabulous" Sun newspaper type of sex life isn't the most important thing in a marriage and that MOST couples don't have that and never have had!! However I think a cuddle isn't much to ask for and if my OH stopped doing that I would tell him how I feel. Perhaps it's all the emotional stuff with the crying and ranting that they can't take, but God knows what they'd be like if they had BC!
Hi Jo .... I can relate to you in some respects as I too have not had sex or any sort of physical contact since before DX Just over a year ago .I too have had mastectomy and find myself very unattractive and sexless since the op so I really cant see how I can expect my OH to see me in any other way than this .He has never touched me nor seen me naked or even kissed me since .I feel like a freak I would never make the first move for fear of him not wanting me ..so I have resigned myself to a sexless marriage .I wish things could be different .I am told that men find me attractive ?? perhaps covered up they do so why doesnt my husband fancy me ??If I make a comment i get "you are being ridiculous " or "stop going on its not been all about you "
So what do I do ...i just put up and shut up and stay in my cosy house with all the trimmings and get told by people how lucky I am ?Yeah have a big house ,new car nice clothes and two fab kids and my beautiful dogs ....so I suppose that has to be enough .I am sure it is more than a lot of people have and so I suppose that I am selfish to expect more .
Wish I could give you some advice but cant .maybe someone can give me some????
Well if you had been on here a few weeks ago you would have seen me going through hell with my OH. His selfishness was so so madening and his lack of sensitivity and even cruel remarks drove me to leave him after 30 yrs of marriage. It was a very hard time for us both. He was truely devistated and asked me to come back. I have, but on my terms and it seems to be working, touch wood!
Our biggest problem has been poor communication, me thinking he meant X when he said Y and all that sort of stuff.
Our sex life is crap an has been since diag 2 yrs ago. It took him months to look at my scar so I thought well he doesn't fancy me with one boob but that wasn't the case.
I have zero sex drive plus physical issues like vaginal dryness. Medication hasn't helped. I feel 80 (I'm 50).
We 'make do' sex wise for him, which means I have to 'make an effort' but I do love him so it's doable as he isn't too demanding.
I have to agree with some of the others. I do think your OH is not being very fair to you and you really must talk it through and pin him down to why he wont have sex. You really need to know, it could be his labido is slow anyway as you mentioned it wasn't brill before BC. It may not be that personal to your BC, but be his problem. Thats why communication is sooooo important!
I said I'd post again - sorry it's taken so long to get back to you......
What a horrible time you are having at the moment!
I don't think many men are natural carers - they are not always great empathizers either. Their strengths are in other areas. I don't have any experience of a situation similar to yours, but I do know, from experience, what cancer does not only to the patient but those around them (having been in both categories). I imagine your husband might find it very difficult to put himself in your shoes and realise the long term impact this disease can have on one's mindset.
And it sounds as tho' your confidence has taken a terrible knock? If you can talk to your husband (can you?), you must. And, this is just a suggestion and I might be way off beam here, but how about finding some outside interestsyou can do to build yourself up again in your own eyes.
Cancer can be very corrosive and people say horrible things to those they care most about, sometimes with the poor patient merely caught in the crossfire They resent the person who has cancer because that person has spoiled their lives, too. It's easy to say we ought to be more mature and unselfish and rise above these things but often we're not and we can't because we're only human. We all want things back the way they were, with our bright shiny tomorrows all intact.
I don't know if this helps - it's just thoughts/observations/suggestions.
But I do hope you feel less alone now that you've had a few replies to your post and lots of different viewpoints!
It is not unheard of for some men to just find the idea of a sick or "damaged " woman unsexy. As far as I was concerned my relationship was as good as any other but BC revealed my partner did not see himself in the role of loving carer and he certainly did not want to hang about whilst interesting bits of me disappeared. Like you I looked really good an took care of myself pre BC, I can pass for much younger so it really hurts to feel ugly and I think that is true for many women. He took a beautiful new girlfriend to comfort himself whilst I underwent the second of three surgeries.
My point is; this site is full of women who have amazing men who seem to really come through for them and I suspect that is as much about the character of the man. Take charge ladies and sensitive men are a bad combo at a time like this, in my opinion, because sometimes you want a man to be traditional and manly - for me this is one of those times.
If you are like me the idea of tarting yourself up and taking the lead is scary due to the possible (and I have experienced it) potential for humiliating rejection. I found all the BC booklet advice so unhelpful to the point of making me cry. Counselling wont necessarily help you if it is a problem for him too. Communication is a two way street.
I realised that our relationship, despite the fact that I love him so much it hurts and feel life is not worth living without him, is doomed because he can not and does not even want to give me what I need. Not suggesting that your scenario is exactly the same but sometimes when you accept that it is over it becomes easier because you give up the hope that things can be the same. Curiously, as you begin to think that maybe it is the natural end of the road the communication becomes less charged and more relaxed.
I suppose I am saying it may help to think less about what you cn do to change things and more about whether he wants change and what kind of change, otherwise you risk a lot f work which may well push him further away. I asked mine "Do you think we will make it through the next year?" and the look on his face said it all.
Stop crying honey and questioning yourself. You can not have a good relationship without his getting involved too! And good luck.
I agree with liz and louise. Your husband sounds very insensitive. If he was mine, he would soon become my ex.
You have been through so much, as we all have and you deserve better. Men are such a strange breed. Counselling could be a way forward but from the sound of it he doesnt think HE has a problem.
Hope it all works out for you, with or without him,
I am in Spain too and a man whos wife has been struck by the dreaded BC.
Perhaps a little insight from a male point of view would help.
We have not been able to make love for some time now, initially down to the fact it would be too painfull, without going into details my wife cannot lie flat on her back, or her side, or face down, she has to have her spine in a particular fashion on our medical type bed to be comfortable and pain free.
We have talked about making love but one of the problems I have is that I am not sure I could manage it as I think it may be the last time we ever make love, so from my point I would rather remember the last time which was before diagnoses.
It does not mean that I do not love her, I tell her every day that I do, and we cuddle a lot when she is standing, however love making is really difficult for me. Perhaps your hubby is feeling the same ?
Hope that helps a little.
I agree too, I must be the most cynical person around when it comes to men, as I heard someone say once that "men are such a disappointment". I intend to stay single indefinately. Try to imagine life on your own...do you think you could? Does he make you happy? If not then be brave and move on. Too many men will try to drag you down and you deserve better!! Men are weak and selfish.
Im afraid I agree with Andrea, I am VERY cynical as far as men are concernedand havent been in a relationship for 10 years. You should however seek counselling just to be fair to him. But you are the number one priority inall this. Were you having problems pre dx?
If you want to ring the helpline the number from outside the UK is (+44) 2076200077 the lines open at 9am this morning until 5pm tonight, Monday to Friday and Saturdays 9am - 2pm. Take care, and hope this helps.
Sorry you are having such a bad time. You could try counselling but ask yourself if your marraige is worth saving.
You could be flogging a dead horse. Sorry to be so blunt but you have suffered enough and now you need to look after number one..
We are all here for you. Hope you feel better soon.
Love Andrea xx
Jo, Just before i was diagnosed in 2007 my marriage was going through troublesome times as my husband discovered i was having an affair. We went to Relate (don't know if there is something similar in spain), and it helped us save our marriage. I know that when i first had mastectomy my husband was scared of hurting me and i think they want us to be needy when really having bc makes us stronger. Maybe you have to take the bull by the horns, dress up like you would have done prior to bc and take the initiative. I have lost my sex drive completely since chemo and now arimidex so i know if my husband doesn't come on to me sex would never happen. The helpline bcc run is fantastic and i know its not open weekends but you can always ring tomorrow same with the peer support service. I amde use of that and the person i had , lyn was great and let me know i wasn't alone in the way i was feeling. Never feel alone when you have all the great bunch on here xx
Is there any way you could get some counselling? Even better, could you persuade your husband to go with you.
My marriage is not very happy at the moment. I lost my sex drive completely since my treatment and I've also started to resent the fact that he acts as though my illness never happened. He refuses to let me discuss my fears and worries or make the changes in our lives I'd like to. He just wants to carry on as before. I've had counselling which helped me but he refused to go with me and now I feel there is no way things can ever improve. I'm sorry to go on about my problems when you are so distressed. But I think relationships can change so dramatically after breast cancer and it needs both of you to make things improve.
I hope you can find some way to make him discuss things with you. You mustn't let him knock your confidence.
I am sorry to read you are going through such a tough time with your husband at the moment. You may find it useful to have a look at a couple of BCC booklets, 'sexuality, intimacy and breast cancer' and 'in it together', which is for partners of those with breast cancer. Both these booklets have a lot of information which may help. You can find these booklets by going to the following links:-
I hope you find this helpful.
You said in your original post that you usually used to initiate things - why not try that and see what happens?
All relationships go through problem times, and we have to cope with bc as well. Talk to him about what he needs from you, and tell him what you need from him. Good luck and let us know how to you get on.
Aw thank you so much you guys!!!
I really mean it. I have felt so low recently. So thanks Ruby, Katherine, Bahons and Cat for being so kind. Thank you. When I had the mastectomy curiously there was a lot of support on offer to me in england (emotionally) but then after that when i had to go back to spain, that was it! Game Over Man! Like i should stop having feelings and then my husband thought the same thing too.
The main problem for me though is the sexual problem. IÂ´ve never had a sex problem in my life. Breast cancer has given this to me. I dont know what to do about it. Like I say, someone must agree with me that five years is a long time!!!! IÂ´m 43 and I have a nice figure and stuff. I just dont get what or why he doesnt like me any more.
I haven't got much time, but just thought I'd say that your words are NOT disappearing into the ether - you will get other posts here in reply, people are very supportive.
( I will post again).
Hang on in there
I'm so sorry to hear you are having such a hard time and that you hadn't had any response yet but I'm sure you will get some responses. I think maybe at the weekend the forums are a little quieter. What you are going through sounds really awfula and I so sympathise with you and am sending you a cyber hug. It's awful feeling so alone and wondering what is going on in your relationship. Relationships are sometimes not straightforward. It's very hard to know what to say to help you but I just wanted to let you know that I am here and ready to listen. Sometimes it just helps to let off steam and talk to somebody else and this place is the right place to come to. A lot of people have relationship problems generally but when you are going through fighting breast cancer too - it's tough. I don't think some men can really even try and understand what we must be going through. Only this morning, I was talking to my boyfriend about a few issues we have and I just had to tell him outright. We only met after I had had chemotherapy and my operationi and he wasn't aware just how ill I had been and he said that to me. He doesn't/didn't understand how it affects your libido and thought it rather strange how I didn't seem to be that interested in sex - truth is, at the moment I'm just not that interested however when he gets me in the mood it's nice.
I'm here to chat so please don't feel alone or that nobody cares - like I said above, I think the forums are quieter at the weekend.
its the weekend ! it can be very quiet here at the weekend,
I am sure some others will come on. What can I asy ? breast cancer causes all these ripples in relationships that might or might not have happened wth the cancer.
You have had alot to cope with , but dont take this the wrong way -but you are lucky you are still here and still well 5 years on ...there sounds like there is alot of tension in your house at the moment. Is there anyone that both of you can talk to? Have you considered going for counselling together or separately ? It sound like you need some love and reassurance form him and there are alot of issues with him from your cancer that are still out there, Also maybe you need some counselling to think about what you really want next...
I hope you can get some help and support. men can be so determined to do things their own way - to not admit their feelings, or not be the first to say something, or maybe just not to say sorry. I have certainly seen that..anyway these are just random ideas....
Am sitting in my kitchen all by my self. HeÂ´s been angry with me all day. He says im too demanding. it makes me so sad. My face is just all puffy with tears. I have never felt so low in my life. PLease help me someone. Please please help. I was a model once, a tv presenter. I had a tv researcher job and he brought me down. And he wont let me back up. Its sohard with the breast thing.l Please help. He says I have to get over myself. That the changes in my body dont matter. That i should get over it.
IÂ´d like to be able to do that.
I have started this thread for new user Jo,
I was diagnosed 5 years ago with stage three and did radio and hormone therapy, mastectomy and reconstruction. Problem is in the past five years me and husband have not had sex, well about twice. He says its coz initially he didnt want to hurt me or was too afraid to touch me, but now five years on, im beginning to wonder. I used to be the one to take the initiative always but now i really need him to fancy me. Its not enough that i fancy him, i really need him to want me and he doesnÂ´t. This upsets me. I have said to him that I, because of the cancer, need Ãt to come from him or for him to reassure me im still atractive but he just wont. On top of this weÂ´re having emotional problems because he says Im too needy and cant see his point of view and that if I hadnt got ill he could have got a really good job abroad etc.
Please help someone, because its just really awful at the moment. Is there any light at the end of this, or are some men just not able to cope with their wives being ill and needing them to be the strong one?