Partner diagnosed with cancer last September and has just finished radiotherapy.

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Anere
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Hello I am new to this forum but I am so happy that I found it. It's so hard trying to get things off your chest when you partner is dagnosed with cancer. Everyone offers you help which is a wonderful support but actually talking to someone about what is going through your mind is extremely difficult unless they have been through it themselves. My husband was diagnosed last September with salivary gland cancer and had a neck dissection operation. A few weeks after the operation he had five weeks of radiotherapy to head, neck and shoulder area and next week he starts three months chemotheray. We have two young children and it has been a real emotional rollercoaster for us all. The thing I am finding very hard at present is that my partner has become very grumpy and although I understand how terrible he must be feeling, I also feel sorry for my children who don't really understand why he has these outbursts of anger. He is starting chemo next week and I am so worried that it is gong to get worse. We are all supporting him and helping him in every way possible. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Beautylee (not verified)
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Re: Partner diagnosed with salivary gland cancer September ...

Hi Anere,

Sorry to hear of your husband's illness and the emotional turmoil your family has been going through.

I was diagnosed a year ago with SCC lower lip which in a year decided it loved me so much it moved to my left lymph node. Ive had the neck dissection operation in January (3 wks ago), just said goodbye to my bottom left 2 molars last Thursday in preparation for radio to start soon. (Im getting that done at neck region). Not to mention the original operation of a Karapandzic lip rotation which also said goodbye to 2cm of my lower lip, resulting in a smaller mouth opening.
I am so over losing body parts!

I fully emphasise with what he is going through and the anger it causes. I know I get angry, I get frustrated, I get tired of the feelings of numbness, the inability to eat and enjoy certain foods the way I used to, I am tired of worrying whether this will come back again, I am tired of hospitals. Yes, you do get grumpy and I know from my experience you do not want to be that way, but I think it is a natural part of what you go through. I know my poor husband has been in the way of my mood swings and I always feel so terrible about it. Sure, your children do not need that kind of environment to deal with, but Ive found since being on this site, that I have settled down abit, that I am not alone, it is so great to read others inspirational stories and how they are dealing with their particular illness.

I hope that things settle down for you and your husband makes a fantastic recovery! It might help for him to talk to someone as well to help cope with the feelings of this lousy disease.

Take care and stay strong.

Leesa

Anere
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Re: Partner diagnosed with salivary gland cancer September ...

Thanks for your message Leesa. You have been through so much with two major operations and now waiting for radiotherapy treatment. I wish you all the very best in your recovery and during radiotherapy treatment. We found the staff at hospital (Peter Mac) to be brilliant and so helpful and supportive throughout the five weeks of treatment. He always took along his ipod and played some of his favourite tunes during the treatment every day. He put it on very loud and all the staff thought it was great. You are right that this site is very helpful and invaluable for cancer patients and their loved ones and carers. I have told my husband that even though he is the patient we are all suffering with him the whole time. We might not feel the pain he is going through, but we feel so sorry and helpless at times and the best we can do is help him in any way we can, and be there for him. He is very brave and just like you mention he is fed up with not being able to eat properly and put on weight, his taste has changed and he just finds eating extremely tiring. Thanks again for your reply and advice and keep in touch. Take care Anere

wombat4
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Re: Partner diagnosed with salivary gland cancer September ...

Hi Anere,
When a loved one in a family gets dx with cancer, the whole family is touched by it and suffers, it is heartbreaking, it is there when you wake up, stays with you all day and enters your dreams.My heart goes out to you as you are a young family with young children.

When my wife was dx, our children were adults taking care of themselves, making their own lives. It was difficult but at least my wife and I only had each other to care for and look after.

With the chemo will come fatigue, and maybe more mood swings, this insidious disease takes an enormous toll on all involved.

You are doing very well in trying to understand, you will never regret doing everything you can for him.

Talk to your husband about any questions you may have for the oncologist the days before the visit, write them down and take the notebook with you, ask the questions write down the answers.Write down what they are telling you, because while you are focusing on one thing you can forget what they has been telling you about something else
Get the handouts on the type of chemo, read the potential side effects and put in place systems to minimise them should they appear, remember not everybody gets all or many of the side effects.

I wish you all the best
wombat4

Anere
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Re: Partner diagnosed with salivary gland cancer September ...

Thank you Wombat4 for your kind message and wishes. It is very comforting to look at this site and get advice and encouragement from other people who have been through similar experiences. Yesterday my husband started his first session of chemo (one every 3 weeks for 4 sessions) and it went quite smoothly. Today he is feeling very tired and has absolutely no appetite but that is not surprising. Very best wishes to you and thanks again Anere

SILLY
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Re: Partner diagnosed with salivary gland cancer September ...

It's difficult for all ,particularly when you have children. You will have to be the one to support your husband but also to do your best to see that the children's needs are met. You seem to be doing a good job. Don't forget in all this to also look after yourself. Maybe friends and family could take the children for outings or visits at times so that they get away from the sadness and pain for short times. This would help you too,I would think. Just a suggestion.

Jules_68
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Re: Partner diagnosed with salivary gland cancer September ...

Great suggestion Silly....soak up Silly's wisdom Anere, I have in the past 11 months and it has been life changing and then pay if forward to someone else so they can pay it forward too. Take care love and thinking of you. Julesx

Anere
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Re: Partner diagnosed with salivary gland cancer September ...

Thanks Jules I will and I will do everything I can to help others in the future who are going through similar situations. It is such a tough experience and I strongly believe that if it wasn't for the support you get from friends, sites like this, and hospital and healthcare workers it would be impossible. I stll sometimes say to myself is this really happening? Could this just be a bad dream? But then I realise it's not and you just have to be strong and positive and move forward. I hope you are keeping well. Take care Anere

Jules_68
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Re: Partner diagnosed with salivary gland cancer September ...

Hi Anere,

Yes I know and understand.

As I am the patient, my husband still cant say the "CANCER" word, only a couple of days ago I said to him "running away from saying the word CANCER is just tooo exhausting love, embrace it, say it, bless and love it and then send it on it way" done.

However he is understanding the battle of the head space, that your mind is your greatest winning tool with cancer, our love ones and yourself experience this with us.

Remember, dare to dream, live your life, burn your name and make your mark, you dont need to have cancer to do this.....its universal to all humans. Julesx

Anere
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Re: Partner diagnosed with salivary gland cancer September ...

Hi Silly
Thank you for your advice and suggestion about asking friends and family to take the children out for outings and visits at times so that they can get away from the sadness at home for a while. I have been lucky that this has been the case and during the summer holidays my children went out a few times with friends on day trips etc which was wonderful, as my husband was having radiotherapy to head and neck and shoulder for 6 weeks at that time. I hope that you are keeping well. I am very new to this site so I am still finding my way around and trying to learn how it all works Smile take care from Anere

purpleangels
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Some helpful books for your kids

Hi there!
I just had to write and tell you about these books I found on amazon....."how to help children through a parent's serious illness" Kathleen McCue and "when a parent has cancer" by Wendy Schlessel Harpham. We have two kids 4 and 6. My husband was diagnosed 3 years ago with a rare cancer in his peritoneum. I wish I had found these books then....easy to read, practical and helpful......
Good luck with your husband....take it a day at a time........
PA

purpleangels
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Dealing with the kids

Hi there again.....
I forgot to mention that being honest with the kids is probably the best way to deal with the mood swings, tiredness, grumpiness, anger etc etc etc (I don't need to tell ya).....even the littlest ones can understand feeling sick/ tired/ grouchy.
It is so hard, I try and take my kids away for weekends when I can so they have a great time with a well parent. We also try to have family holidays where my husband makes the supreme effort to be up and about and doing " normal" dad things. It wipes him out for a week or so after, but we have photos and video of him being a dad, which the kids like to look at when he has had a spell in bed or in hospital.
I find with my kids though, they lose it if I lose it, so if I am feeling angry with dad, then the kids pick up on that and chuck more Wobblies than usual,- a vicious circle.....but I am really trying to breathe, get into the " happiness project" ( I am reading a LOT of self help books) and stay calm.......
Easy to say now my children are asleep, and I am off to bed myself in a sec, but so important......
Love and hugs to you, I hear ya!!!!!!!!! Keep going.....
PA

Anere
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Re: Dealing with the kids

Thanks Purpleangels for the two messages and for the great suggestion of those two books. I will try and get hold of some copies of them. My 15 year old daughter got a copy of a booklet at the Peter MacCallum Hospital called Now What? Dealing with your parent's cancer, I think there is a website also www.nowwhat.org.au and that was a very helpful and informative book and it helped her cope a bit better with it all. My 11 year old son has his ups and downs and someimes he seems to be coping fine, and then other times I can see he gets very emotional and angry.

Going out for family outings and taking photos sounds like a really good idea and as you said it's good for kids etc. I am still learning day to day how to deal and cope with everything but getting messages for all you lovely people who are going through the same sort of tough time helps you manage better. Books do help and I have been reading several on how to cope with anxiety, meditation etc but I also read fictional novels just to get me away from it all for a while, and take me to another place so that I can try to relax. You are so right that our moods affect our kids moods and it's like a visious cirle, they can pick up your vibes and then the situation becomes worse and worse, so it's best for us to take a few good deep breaths and stay calm so that they do not get upset and we don't fall to pieces. I wish you and your family all the best through this tough time. Keep in touch. Best wishes and hugs Anere

Rodney
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Re: Partner diagnosed with salivary gland cancer September ...

Sorry it's bit of a tough slog ,I have had neck dissension about 12 months and two lots of radiation therapy ,it's a long story but I am back at work and getting on with things.

Yes I can understand your partner getting angry I did to but I transferred my anger to the cancer and unfortunately a doctor that could not be god, it's like you just want to hit out and the fear is great , does the hospital have a support group for both of you . Sometimes talking about all these feelings does help ....hope his chemo is not to hard on him ........

Anere
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Re: Partner diagnosed with salivary gland cancer September ...

Thanks for your message Rodney it sounds like you also have been through an incredibly tough time over the past year or so. The neck operation would have been a major op and then the radiotherapy following that is pretty tough to say the least also but it's good to hear that you are back at work and getting on with things. My husband's chemo is not going to well but at least we were warned about all the side effects. About 10 days after his first dose he got fever and couldn't eat because mouth was swollen and too sore and now he's back in hospital. Hopefully he will be out soon but then he has to have his next dose of chemo next Tuesday so we will be on the same rollercoaster again. You are right that talking about your feelings is important and especially with people who are in similar situations so that is a great help. I hope work is going well and that you are feeling good. Take care and thanks again Anere

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