Published Jul 19, 2009
I'm an LPN, today has been a really bad day, my boyfriend of 5 years was diagnosed with colon cancer on june 18th. He was supposed to have surgery on July 15th at the cleveland clinic. Surgery was cancelled due to them finding that the cancer had spread to his liver. We were there and all ready, hours to go and surgery was cancelled. It felt like my whole world fell out from underneath me. I can only try to feel how hard this is for him, I feel guilty for even feeling so overwhelmed. I don't let him see me cry.... but that is all I do when I'm alone.. cry and do research on my computer. He is so strong... but today it seems he is taking his frustration/anger out on me and I don't know what to do?????????? I need help.. I can't do this and I don't know where to turn... or what to do...I feel like the worst person in the world for even needing help and maybe I am, maybe he would be better off without me..
You sound like a very loving girlfriend. Having been on both sides of the cancer coin more times than I would have preferred, I can safely say it's never easy to deal with no matter which side you are on. For me, actually, it was harder being in the position you are in right now. It sounds to me like you're doing everything right - you're supportive, staying strong, and educating yourself. That's all you can do. Even if you don't want to do it in front of your boyfriend to put on a strong front for him, now, what you need to do is allow yourself to process the emotions you are having (and by reaching out here and hopefully to your friends and family at home, you are doing just that). I know it's easier said than done, but it will get easier...
netglow, ASN, RN
I am so sorry that you are having to go through this.
Just an idea, some men need to "shout out" and "push away" as their initial way of handling things. They might not want a discussion, or a hug, or anything like that right away. Your being there, but not so there for him for a little bit might be what's best for the immediate time. I hope you can lean on some trusted friends/family for a little bit. If not, there are a lot of people here that you can look to for support! One minute at a time, one hour at a time, one day at a time.
My heart goes out to you. Do not doubt yourself! Find a support group for family of cancer patients. It will give you a place to share what you are dealing with. There may be some practical tips on how to cope, but definitely there will be sympathetic ears.
I am also a firm believer in the power of prayer. Two verses that help me, I hope its ok to share them with you.
1 Peter 5:77 "while YOU throw all YOUR anxiety upon him, because he cares for YOU."
Jeremiah 29:11, "'For I myself well know the thoughts that I am thinking toward YOU,' is the utterance of Jehovah, 'thoughts of peace, and not of calamity, to give YOU a future and a hope."
All the best.
I am so sorry that you are both going through this difficult time. Is it possible that your boyfriend is going through the stages of grief? Do you have a church or spiritual leader that you can seek guidance and support from? Men tend to handle situations like this differently than women. I often find that just listening to my husband and offering support is all that he wants from me. Acknowledging his feelings and being a sounding board.
I worked in oncology for many years. The best advice that I can give you is to take it a day at a time and remember to take care of yourself. That may mean 10minutes reading, journaling or something else that you enjoy. You won't be any good to him if you aren't taking care of yourself. I'll keep you both in my prayers.
angelTM50 my heart goes out to you in a big way !! I'm going down the same road but much farther ahead. It's a da***d hardvroad too. My spouse was diagnosed in Mar 07. We too went for pre-op consult and found out about liver mets. Multiple mets and he was born with only 1 liver lobe. I'm telling you that to tell you this; all is not lost. My spouse had heavy duty chemo and in Dec '07 had surgery on the colon and radio frequency ablation on his liver. Colon looks good and he has been getting routine chemo to keep the remaining liver met in check. unfortunately the chemo no longer works but if your boyfriend's cancer was caught soon enough, he will be around awhile yet. I go to www.cancercompass.com for info and messaging to those going down this awful road. Please know we will all here keep you both in our prayers. Husker-rn
I am so sorry that you are having to go through this. Just an idea, some men need to "shout out" and "push away" as their initial way of handling things. They might not want a discussion, or a hug, or anything like that right away. Your being there, but not so there for him for a little bit might be what's best for the immediate time. I hope you can lean on some trusted friends/family for a little bit. If not, there are a lot of people here that you can look to for support! One minute at a time, one hour at a time, one day at a time.:icon_hug:
i loved everything about this answer.
yes - generally men do have different ways of responding to stressors, so being there w/o being there too much, is a delicate line to walk.
give him his space yet let him know you're there.
however he chooses to release his emotions (or not), just let him feel supported.
and speaking of supported, here's a link about cancer support forums.
they're out there and from what i hear, extremely helpful to the pt and caregivers.
wishing you continuous peace, faith and strength.
IU Hospital in Indianapolis IN has the Simon Cancer Center with some of the best doctors in the country. Lance Armstrong went there for his treatment. I'm not trying to give false hope, but perhaps look into it.
I am so sorry to hear what you and your boyfriend are going through. Best wishes to you both.
Trishalishus, PhD, CNS
... It felt like my whole world fell out from underneath me. I can only try to feel how hard this is for him, I feel guilty for even feeling so overwhelmed. I don't let him see me cry.... but that is all I do when I'm alone.. cry and do research on my computer. He is so strong... but today it seems he is taking his frustration/anger out on me and I don't know what to do?????????? I need help.. I can't do this and I don't know where to turn... or what to do...I feel like the worst person in the world for even needing help and maybe I am, maybe he would be better off without me..
Speaking as a cancer survivor:
1. He is probably terrified - that is why he is snapping at you. Try to let it roll off your back - it is not directed AT you but because you are there, you are copping it. Terror makes us do things we don't mean - and we can only hurt the ones we love and who love us, right?
2. You DO know what to do - exactly what you ARE doing - crying in private (he needs to see you being calm, matter of fact, filled with hope and certainty that he will be alright and that you will not abandon him); researching on the net/from support groups/family (knowledge is power - if you know what's going on, the ignorance demons will be chased away and you can be more matter of fact when he talks to you).
3. We all need help when we feel overwhelmed - that is normal and a sign that you are a reflective thinker who has understood she needs help - this is a good thing
Speaking as a psychologist:
4. What's this "maybe he would be better off without me?" Think about where that came from: is it self doubt or fear of the prognosis and its impact on you? Either way, or otherwise - think about this one very carefully - once you have calmed down and can get a bit of perspective
5. How to stay calm when those about you are falling apart (or at any time really): close your eyes and start consciously breathing deeply. Concentrate on your breathing and think about nothing but your breathing. As you breathe in, count 1; as you breathe out count 2; and so on up to ten and then start again at one. Keep doing it for at least five minutes. Every time you lose the track and your mind rushes off to fill up with worry, stop yourself and go back to 1, 2, 3 etc. This is called "mindfulness" and it works to relax you and stop the spiral of panic by changing your brain wave pattern. It will help you to think more clearly.
When he yells or snaps, remember that it doesn't mean he doesn't love you or that he wants you to go away - he is scared.
You can do this. Big hug.
BTW to the other writers saying it's a man thing: I disagree - I was just as snappy (and pushing rather than pulling on others) and have seen lots of other women being like that. Cheers
Daytonite, BSN, RN
This is a new development since your previous posts. See what the doctors want to do now. The docs at the Cleveland Clinic should have some good ideas. Did you read the information on the National Cancer Institute?
Thank you so much to EVERYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have read lots of information, I have printed a book, I have some really good things from Nat'l cancer inst. Some days are so much harder than others! This last blow, being at cleveland, ready for surgery and finding out that he had multiple liver mets was too much! We knew he had one, only 1.2 cm. They found 5 more with MRI but only .5 cm in size so they cancelled surgery to see what the liver doc wanted to do, if he will be doing anything during the colon surgery for the liver? We are waiting to hear from them today or tomorrow. From what I understand they are all in the right lobe, but I'm not totally sure, I can't remember everything the surgeon said when he called us Friday night with the liver biopsy results, they did the biopsy instead of surgery for now. So far I've been good at remembering everything, but when he said the cancer was definately in his liver I lost being able to concentrate on what was being said.
I'll check into IU hospital, all information and help is so deeply appreciated! And thank you everyone for your support and prayers! I believe strongly in the power of prayer and faith!
I'm sending good thoughts and prayers your way; hopefully you will have several options to consider and don't be afraid to ask lots of questions. I found that writing down the questions and answers helped a lot. Also, as everyone else has said; don't take his anger personally. He is just angry about the diagnosis and he lashes out at you because he can trust you with his fear. He may push you away at times. Just stand back and give him his space. My spouse was awful for awhile. But as we have traveled this road together the loving man I knew returned. The biggest thing you can do for him is to stay calm; hide your tears. I found that crying in the shower worked well. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. Kathy aka husker-rn
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