"HOW CAN I GET MY HUSBAND TO
TALK TO ME ABOUT MY CANCER?"
I am sorry that you
have breast cancer and that your treatment is causing
quite a lot discomfort and I can see that you would like
to be looked after without having to ask. It is
depressing to see the things that you would usually look
after in a mess. You sound very practical about your
cancer. Many people feel very angry when this happens to
them. I wonder what you are really feeling about this
potentially fatal illness.
There is quite a lot of information that you haven’t
given which prevents me from being very helpful. What
stage of your married life are you at? What was your
relationship like before you were ill? Has your husband
a history of depression? Has he recently given up work?
His life sounds pretty aimless. Did you always taken
care of household tasks up until your illness so might
he expect that you would still be able to continue? It
would seem that you may not have a very close physical
relationship if he comes to bed so late so does that
affect things. You sound fed up with him anyway.
Cancer, despite the huge improvements in treatment, is a
life threatening disease. In a partnership it can
exacerbate difficulties that already exist in a
relationship. Your husband could be very frightened of
being left alone or he may feel that you are getting
support at the hospital and he is alone with it. Perhaps
you need to think about your relationship and how you
could put some more feeling into that. There is a very
good book called ‘Breast Cancer Husband’ by Marc Silver.
Do you think he would read it?
I'm very sorry to
hear about your breast cancer & the subsequent treatment
which is causing you joint pains. It must be hard to
deal with the side effects & still cope with what sounds
like some difficult communication problems between you &
your husband. I wonder if this seeming reluctance to
help you around the house is a direct result of the
shock of the breast cancer diagnosis or do you feel that
there was a lack of cooperation beforehand?
It might be that your husband is in shock & doesn't know
how to express his feelings, but I can understand how
difficult it must be for you. Maybe it would help to
talk to him during the daytime when he/you are feeling
reasonably fresh & to ask him what he is really thinking
about your illness/treatment? Perhaps you could see if
there is anyone else around who you could pay to do the
household jobs-it might help your husband to recognise
that getting these tasks done is important for your
Everyone deals with a health crisis in a different way,
but trying to change your communication patterns by
putting the emphasis on asking how he is feeling might
help shift the current situation. I wonder if you can
find support for yourself by using some of the support
forums on the net & finding out if there are others who
can share their experiences with you. Please write again
if you think it would help to share your feelings
online, or refer to the following helpline/web site.
Best wishes & bon courage.
say that you have spoken to your husband about how you
feel but I wonder if you have really told him how
difficult things are for you. It sounds as though you
are each isolated in your corner and are maybe afraid to
tell each other how you really feel. It could be that
your breast cancer has evoked feelings from the past
where you felt helpless and where you felt abandoned,
which is not to say that you are not feeling helpless in
face of the situation in which you find yourself. It may
also be that your illness is also evoking feelings from
the past which have to do with loss for your husband and
which are frightening for him. It is possible that he is
trying to escape mentally from what is going on, which
could reinforce your feeling of being abandoned and left
to cope on your own. I would suggest consulting a
relationships counsellor who may help you both to
express you feelings and thoughts about your illness and
anything that it could be evoking.