Hi Cyprus Girl,
I have been supporting my partner with breast cancer since 2006 and although at times this disease has put a terrible strain on our relationship, at other times I feel (and I think my wife does too) that we've never been closer.
Often, however, it is really difficult to offer my partner the support she needs when I'm feeling terrified, angry, scared – going through many of the emotions that she herself is going through. Your partner is no doubt in a dark place. I'm not trying to 'excuse' what you see as his lack of support, but this might give some insight into his behaviour.
It's tempting to talk about the differences in the way that men and women cope with heavy emotional situations, but I think cancer is a really stressful situation that can bring out the best and the worst in any individual - and puts a strain on even the best relationship.
You both need support - to support one another and to get support from others. You need support as individuals and as a couple: I hope you can find this. The fact that you are posting on this forum is a great start.
If you have access to a counsellor - especially one that has experience with supporting people with cancer - I would really recommend that you try this if you are not doing so already. It would be great for your partner too. If he is unwilling to consider this now, he may be ready to in future.
I have recently started going for counselling after my wife's latest developments (widespread bone metastases) and I really appreciate the support this has given me. I hope that I'm now better at supporting my wife. I'm trying.
I really hope you can work on this together with your partner.
If the kids both still get picked up from school, could you offer to do that, if you're not at work? Do they get on ok? Could you offer to have her daughter over, or offer to take her out to the pictures with your son? Or offer to take your lady to the supermarket and get the shopping in and out of the car for her, and then cook something nice for her while she's resting.
Let her know that you would like to do this sort of thing for her, with no strings attached, just because you care and want to try to make things just a little bit easier for her. You will know whether it would be appropriate (or even possible, depending on work) for you to offer to take her to her treatments. She might find that's a bit personal, but she might appreciate the offer at least.
I think if you offer something specific, rather than the usual "let me know if there's anything I can do to help", you might find that lets her accept more easily.
It may be that you have to put the boyfriend/girlfriend relationship on the back burner, but if you let her know that you want to be there to give some practical support to help her get through the treatment, that might be a start. Taking it at her pace is always going to be difficult because that pace will change from one moment to the next and she won't know what "her pace" is either.
Good luck, and thank you for being so caring.
Try not to worry. It doesn't surprise me that you are seeing less of her as the treatment progresses. It really does knock you & many of us start withdrawing as we get more & more tired & also shorter periods of feeling well. I don't even like speaking when I'm feeling nauseous so don't take phone calls when I'm feeling bad...it's text messages or nothing! I know it's frustrating for you to stand on the sidelines but she's going through so much & the treatment will be altering her mood & leaving her quite fed up & negative at times. As long as she knows that you're there for her if she needs anything then that's all you can do for now. She's lucky to have you looking out for her & if she's now switched to Tax ( which means a whole lot of new side effects to come to terms with) then she's reached the half way point in her chemo.
Hope this helps reassure you a bit. Chemo messes with the mind as well as the body.
You are a lovely bloke and it's a real shame that BC has got in the way of your relationship.
This may help - I'm a widow since 1997, and when I was diagnosed in 2010 I decided I was going to do this journey by myself (no kids, no siblings, parents dead years ago) I am very independent and private, so that's how I prefer to do things generally. I like being in charge - and of course cancer just rocks us to our foundations. I just told one friend as my support group and she has been great, letting me rant, get angry, snivel etc.
It was only after 12 months, that I began to think how nice it would be to have someone to help 'take care' of me: I went public when I could tell friends I had HAD cancer but it's all gone now. And I do get the support I need when I need it from friends. I really would have found it hard work to cope with everyone's concern and coming round with nice litle meals to put in the freezer!!! I would have found it overwhelming, I just wanted time to get my head round what was going on.
So I reckon it's not you she is pushing away, more the whole world, and if she is a lone mum she has been coping on her own for some time. It is hard coping with yourself with cancer, and maybe she doesn't feel she has the energy to cope with a new relationship.
And if she has has surgery she may well feel that her body is not 'pretty' anymore. Some days even getting a shower and putting on a bit of slap is just too much effort.
Perhaps a note/card just to say you want to help in any way she chooses may move things on a bit, and suggest she tells you when are good times of day to meet up.
all the very best
grumpy (not really....)
Thanks Katy and Jan.
I should have said last night about the children. I have an 11 year old son, and she has an 11 year old daughter.
That is how we got to know eachother from picking them up at school. If only I had realised then 3 years ago how we both felt.
Things would be so different now as I would be helping out a lot more than what I am now.
I really can't begin to imagine what she and her body is going through right now,
and it must be very difficult to get your head around.
I suppose I am being selfish in some respect because I am not seeing hardly anything of her
and I am at home by myself. Would much rather be at her house helping out than sat her
doing nothing. Even if its just to give her a cwtch, sorry, that's welsh for a cuddle and to reasure her that I am here for whatever she needs or wants.
It does help coming on here though and telling others how you feel.
Thank you all so much.
You sound a smashing bloke and I'm sorry that you find yourself in this situation.
I don't know you situation, you don't say whether the kids are hers or yours. But it may well be that now your girlfriend is finding it difficult to focus on anything else but her BC and getting through the treatment. It's a long hard road and she may be that she can't give anything back at present. She will certainly be feeling very tired with very little energy for anything.
As katytc says have a good talk tell her how you feel but that you don't want to make any demands on her you just want to support her and help her through.
Good luck Andrew
She may feel as though she and her illness are a burden to you, it's such a new relationship and weird thoughts do go through your head.
Try and have a good talk with her and tell her how much you miss her and that she is not a burden and you love her regardless of her illness.
Hope this helps a bit, take care xx
This is my first time on here and feel I have to participate.
And yes, I'm a fella.
I started seeing my girlfriend six weeks ago. I have liked her for a few years now but never realised she was single.
Anyway, I messaged her on facebook to ask her out for a date, and her reply was that I had made her day because she had liked me for a few years too.
Then came the bombshell of she had bc. Well, it didn't put me off at all and we arranged to meet up, kids in tow for a walk around a local lake.
We met, got on fantastic and after a week or so, we had both fallen in love. It was a dream come true for me.
She had had 2 bouts of chemo being the FEC-T treatment, and for the first couple of weeks of being together, it was great. Then gradually we were seeing eachother less and less.
She had her first T chemo on 4 th April.
I want to help her as much as I can, whether its cleaning for her, cooking her food, ironing, anything to help her out, but I feel as if I'm not wanted now and not needed at all. I feel totally useless and unwanted but I so want to be part of this illness she is going through
and want to help out as much as I can.
Is there any advice you can offer me please because I feel as if I am losing her and I don't want that to happen.
Sorry to hijack your thread Karen but I am new on here and using my phone to post. And do hope you and your partner can, get through this.
Thank you, and I take my hat off too all you women who are going through this awful thing. You lot are so brave.
Men eh ???? I cant give any advice but just to let you know we are all here to support you and send you virtual hugs - its such a difficult time and men bury their heads in the sand. Have a chat to your GP or ring the helpline on here - they really are wonderful I have called a few times and just cried down the phone but the suggestions they come up with really do help.
Good luck and keep posting it helps to write stuff down.
I'm so sorry to hear of your problems. Relationship troubles are last thing you need when you are dealing with BC but they seem all too common.
Have you tried talking to your GP?
Love and hugs
It maybe the case that he feels it all too difficult to cope with and it's easier to ignore than face facts and give you the much needed support. I would ask him how he feels and if that is the case you can start to build on your relationship from there. It is very difficult because you feel so vulnerable, take care and lots of hugs to you xx
I’m sorry to hear that you are having a pretty tough time at the moment. I’m sure the users of this site will be along to support you soon.
It might help to talk things through with a a trained member of staff on our helpline, they are there to offer emotional support as well as practical information. The free phone number is 0808 800 600 and the lines are open again on Tuesday from 9.00 to 5.00pm.
I hope this helps
Best wishes Sam, BCC Facilitator
Hi I am new to this forum. After reading I felt I am not alone. I am recently diagnosed with BC and had the surgery and first chemo. I am struggling with relationship issues and insomnia.
Earlier on I felt I had a wonderful support in my husband of 26 years. Now I feel he doesn't care for my emotions doesn't even ask how I am feeling. My daughter who is the youngest (8yrs old)doesn't want to leave me so it has become an excuse for him to sleep alone. I feel lonely though I have a great support in my parents and brothers and sisters. My parents are with us for the past few weeks and they are going back soon and the rest of my family has promised to be around during chemo.
Our relationship was not too great before the diagnosis I think he had a love hate relationship with me. I have compromised all these years but now I wish he could do that for me. Sometimes I am sobbing silently on bed and at times awake till 3am
I keep saying to myself everything will settle but my emotions are going like a roller coaster I want him to understand how I feel. Now I am too frustrated texted him saying I wish I could cancel the rest of my treatment and go away with parents if not for the children. He didnot respond
Pls give me suggestions as I don't want this marriage to break
Hi Clarabow and welcome to the BCC forums
In addition to the support here you may find it helpful to speak to someone on our helpline, our team are here to offer you further support and a listening ear on 0808 800 6000, the lines are open during the week 9-5 and 9-2 on Saturdays
I havent posted on this site before but it is heartening to see that I'm not the only one having issues with my partner. He has informed me that he doesnt like my newly reconstructed breast and I have been wondering where to go from here. He has been given me minimal support throughout this experience and reading everyones threads has made me feel as though someone at least has an understanding of what I'm going through so thankyou ladies for being so open x
You always speak words of wisdom and you are exactly right. It's finding the new balance in the relationship and both understanding that things won't be quite the same. The last thing I wanted was what has eventually happened.
There are many more people on this forum who's relationships have been strengthened and become closer by the BC experience than have gone down the route of my marriage.
We all have to remember that nothing and no-one is perfect.
Love to all.
Jan, I'm so happy for you.
Others in this situation, there are so many different possible outcomes, just that some of us have followed (and hoped for good things for) Jan's situation, so it's bound to seem like people think that's the only solution.
Karen, just writing it is often the first step on a long and winding road. If you can find someone that you can talk to (sometimes called counselling but that can be an overused term) then there may be lots of hope for your relationship. BC doesn't HAVE to mean end-of-relationship. For so many of us, it means DIFFERENT relationship. But even that can be traumatic so don't expect to wear your underwear outside your tights, you're not Superman. Ask for help, get help, and live as YOU want to live.
Love to all who've been reading this thread, from an emotional bomb (me) with a partner who doesn't DO emotions (him. This second upstairs snoring. Bless!) And our relationship works because neither of us expect the other to be out of character. I KNOW he does cold fish to perfection, he knows I'm liable to go off into one at the drop of a hat. Balance helps us a great deal.
(Not speaking as any kind of relationship expert here, just have a very tolerant man around. And appreciate it.)
Yes I remember. Yes it a very difficult situation and really took it's toll on me. On New Years Eve I lay in bed with my little grandson in the next bed to me and I resolved that by Christmas this year I would have a different life. On the 13th of January I viewed my flat and got the keys on the 24th, moved in on 4th February. Our marital home went up for sale on the 4th February and we had an offer for more than the asking price on the 7th. The contracts have been signed and we are now waiting for a completion date.
It's all been rather like a miracle and I keep thinking that it can't all go so smoothly. My flat is so much better than anything I thought I would ever have, brand new luxury flat. I've viewed some awful places over the last 3 years so this is heaven. My friends have been brilliant supporting me every step of the way and I had an army of people to help me move. I'm very lucky.
When my husband told his children that we were seperating he told them that I seemed to have some sort of issue with the fact that he hadn't supported me during my BC. Both of his children told him that what he did was wrong!!! Of course he took no notice whatsoever. His children and grandchildren are keeping in touch and come and visit which is lovely.
I hope you are doing well and enjoying your life.
Sorry Karen I've hijacked your thread, promise I won't do it again.
Love to you both
Jan so pleased you are now in your own flat, we posted around about the same time about break ups, I thought it was very,very difficult living in the same house as XOH, so glad you are now happy xx
I was in a similar situation 4 and a half years ago when I was DX. I don't want to go into great detail about my relationship problems because everyone's circumstances are different and I think I am probably much older than you having been married for 31 years.
I just want to say two things really. Firstly that I got myself some 'cancer' counselling. This was just over a year ago. At the time I wasn't sure whether it was what I needed but I had tried most other things. Anyway I did get enormous benefit from it and it did help me sort out how I felt about having cancer and the effect it had on my life. I think that is the first thing we need to recognise. We try to carry on as normal and 'normal' changes with a cancer dx but we don't always recognise that and constantly look forward to the time when things return to normal. This can be a negative thing and it's important that we accept our new 'normal' and get on with our lives.
Secondly my husband from the day of dx had no interest at all in my illness. He carried on his life in exactly the same way as it was before and left me to get on with it all and struggle through. I never understood this and still don't to this day. I made a lot of effort trying to talk to him to get to the bottom of why he was behaving in such a way. All I got was flippant comments and on many occasions very nasty, bordering on abusive, comments.
I think we women, without thinking, sort things out especially the emotional support side of a relationship. We are the supporters, the fixers and solvers of problems and the men leave it all to us. Certainly that's what I did. When I was not able to provide day to day support my husband stamped his foot and behaved like a spoiled child.
However, there was only one person who could sort out his problem and that was him. Like me he needed to seek help and learn what he needed to do to get through all the problems, come out with his relationship intact, maybe even stronger, and accept his new 'normal'. There was no use in looking to me to sort him out this time. Instead of having a joint problem we had a 'his' and 'hers' problem, each coming at it from different directions.
Unfortunately he has never accepted that he has a problem, the problem is all mine and a month ago I left and moved into a lovely flat where I'm now very happy.
All this upset and the breaking up of a long relationship could have been avoided if only he had accepted that he had a problem with his attitude to me being ill and sought help.
My second point is Karen, if a bit long winded, is that your partner has to sort himself out. You can't do it for him. It's his problem and he must deal with it and decide what sort of help he needs and is acceptable to him otherwise he will lose everything.
I send you love and huge hugs. You are having a very difficult time on top of what you've already had to deal with. You certainly don't deserve it.
Heaps of love
This is such a difficult time for you and it's good to see that you're getting support here.
You might like to give the Helpline a call as they can offer emotional support and a listening ear as well as point you in the direction of other sources of help and information.
They're on 0808 800 6000. Open Weekdays 9-5 and Saturday 9-2.
We also have a publication specifically for partners of those affected by breast cancer. Thought your partners might be interested in reading it. If so, here's the link:
I can understand how awful you must be feeling - I have always said that men are a different species let alone gender!! Joking aside counselling for both of you may be helpful - my OH always refused to have any counselling about my BC - but I seriously think he should of had some. If he had he may be able to deal with the situation better now.
At diagnosis 9 years ago OH was brilliant - devastated but brilliant - unfortunately over the years he has been less so. It took a few years to realise what he was doing everytime I had a little worry or my mammogram was due - he would be horrible to me (big time horrible) eventually he was able to see that he was doing it whilst I was vulnerable so that if something was 'wrong' he didn't like me anyway so wouldn't miss me if I wasn't there!!!! Simplistic I know but that's men for you!
The situation has eased a little since we have been able to talk about it - but as I said he would have really benefited from counselling. I am going through a sticky patch at the moment - mammogram recall - if anything is wrong I will insist he gets some help!
Sorry to ramble - have to admit once I started it was quite cathartic - sorry to butt into your thread!!
Love Kathy xx
Oh dear, what a miserable situation for you. I could ( but won't!) go on about my other half as much of this is very recognisable behaviour. It always seems to be all about him! As the previous poster says, something which helps you feel much happier, less lonely and worried is what's needed and I'm not sure that we can always find this in our partners, or even close family. I went off to a breast care support centre and found it very helpful. Can you locate something similar where you are? Or the helpline on here, also excellent. Good luck.
I'm so sorry to hear about all your problems. I'm afraid that most men find our illness difficult to deal with - I'm still waiting for my husband of forty years to tell me that I'm his lovely wife in spite of losing my breast and my hair. He has taken amazing care of me since the moment I was diagnosed but hasn't once spoken about how this is affecting him. There are times when he just leaves the house to get away ( we're both retired).
Is there any counselling service available where you are? I think you might both benefit from it if you could persuade your partner to go along. I doubt that any relationship can remain unchanged by breast cancer but they can survive if both partners can face the reality and move on.
Have you told your doctor about your problems? Sometimes anti-depressants can help to lift your mood and give you a break from the aftermath of cancer treatment. You could also ask to have your thyroid checked as chemotherapy can affect it and cause many of the problems you describe.
This is a tough journey for all of us and everyone here knows what you are going through. You can't do it on your own. Is there no support group near you where you can meet fellow survivors to discuss your feelings? The forums are a wonderful source of comfort to us all but you do need to see a sympathetic face from time to time.
In the meantime I hope that you can find the strength to talk openly and calmly to your partner about how you are both feeling and to ask your doctor for the help you so badly need right now.
I'm 46 years old and was diagnosed with grade 2, stage 3a with 9 positive lymph nodes in September 2010. I went on to have surgery, 8 cycles of chemo (4 AC and 4 Taxol) which I struggled with but nonetheless got through. This was followed by 36 doses of radiotherapy. I'm now on Tamoxifen.
I've got to the stage where I'm starting to feel a bit more like my old self but do wonder whether the "old me" will ever return. I lost my job because of breast cancer (this is Cyprus - it happens unfortunately) so have been at home since diagnosis. I really miss work and feel that the best thing for me to do would have been to get back to work after treatment finished, to get back to some normality. Instead I'm feeling very isolated and lonely despite making an effort to get involved with voluntary work etc.
I've been with my partner for 10 years. He's a very quiet person who doesn't say a lot about much really. Since I've been ill I've found this very difficult to cope with. At first I felt he was burying his head in the sand but I've got to the point now that I don't think he's really that interested. His view on the subject is that I've been diagnosed, had my treatment and I'm better so what's the problem.
I've had some problems with Tamoxifen and have felt very low and miserable. My partners attitude towards me has made this worse and I'm the first to admit that I've not been easy to live with and do fly off the handle very easily. He keeps his distance from me at all times (in and out of bed!). I've tried to talk to him many times about the way I'm feeling but his comment to me last night was that he's fed up of seeing me miserable, I'm so negative about everything, he's given up on me and that if I continue to be like this then we should go our separate ways! He just seens to have switched off and can't be bothered any more.
I am making a really effort to be my old "bright and bubbly self" when we're together but it's hard especially when I think of how he's been and the things he's said.
During my treatment, he was there, but I couldn't say he was a terrific amount of support. He never came to any of my appointments with me and he didn't even come with me when I was given my diagnosis, even though I had told him that I was pretty sure it would be bad news. During chemo, his idea of me showing how well I was coping was to get on and do things, like cook Christmas Lunch, clean the house - after all it would take my mind of things! When I lost my hair I felt so ugly but he never made any attempt to reassure me which would have made such a difference (although I know it wouldn't have been true!)
I'm really at my wits end now. I can't eat (although not a bad thing as I've put so much weight on with chemo). The thought of being on my own scares the life out of me. I've got no family to support me. I'm so scared that I'll get a recurrence or secondary and be on my own, how will I cope? I'm getting to the point where it might be best if we do part but I'm so sad, and bl**dy angry about what will have caused the break up.
Sorry to ramble on, I know there are lots of brave ladies out there who have coped with far more than this.
I can't make my mind up whether he's as scared about the future as I am and can't cope/express the way he feels, or that he really is heartless and couldn't care less.
Thanks for reading this girls. Even writing it down has made me feel better. Would be interested to hear if others on here have had similar problems with their other halves and how they coped.