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Will it get better?
7 Posts
My boyfriend who was diagnosed with throat cancer at the beginning of this year has finally finished his treatments. Hopefully when he speaks to the doctor in a few weeks everything will be looking good.

Throughout his treatment his emotions were up and down and unfortunately I took the brunt of it. But now that he’s done I find he is even more moody and mean that before. He has been feeling very self conscious over the hair that he has lost (on his head and his moustache) and the weight that he has lost. I have been reassuring him that he looks perfectly fine and I even tell him that I still think he is handsome. As well as knowing as there isn’t anything I can do to help him feel better from the side effects he is feeling I am doing my best to comfort him (hold his hand, I give him kisses on the check because he says he can’t feel his lips quite well due to the radiation.
Last night he snapped at me saying the physical touch and telling him he is handsome is just completely annoying. He tells me I am inconsiderate about how he is feeling. I feel like I should just leave him alone from now on.

it is very hard because that physical touch was as much for him as it was for me. He doesn’t also see how much of a toll this has taken on me. Not that I am trying to make it about me at all. It’s hard not being about to kiss him like I once did. I am slowly feeling more and more like his nurse rather than his girlfriend.
8 Replies
8442 Posts

@Ivan2544 sounds like I could have written your post 5 years ago. Im going to get back to you during my lunch break, so hang tight!

2272 Posts

@Ivan2544 Hello and welcome….thank you for sharing about how you are feeling, and how challenging your boyfriend is, at this point in time…..It is wonderful to hear, his treatment is over……now on to the next step……healing…recovery…..and more.

Please meet @Brighty ….as I read our new members' intro…..I thought I could connect you both…….kindly share @Brighty your care giving experiences, and more….

Much appreciation.

We are all here to support you!



8442 Posts

@Ivan2544 it is not unusual for people to have self esteem and body issues after treatment. So many physical and emotional changes happen after treatment. Self esteem takes a plunge, especially if the person had low self esteem before hand. This is usually temporary, and the person can get help by talking with a counselor or trusted person. He might just need time to process everything that happened to him. Some people take longer than others. That being said, he has no right to treat you the way he has. My fiance was not always nice to me after treatment either. He felt like crap about himself and took the brunt of it too. There are days when I had to set boundaries and give him time and space to just be. He had no business being nasty to me when i cared for him day and night, and neither does your boyfriend. Take a step back when he gets like that, go to another room and set the boundaries with him. Seek some counseling and go and do something with a friend, or something that makes you happy. Give him the space and time he needs to cool off. You are so devoted and just dont deserve this. Be proud of yourself for being such a caring devoted person. That should make you feel good about yourself…a lot of people would just bail, and many do. I hope things get better and sort themselves out with time. Please keep us posted.

@Ivan2544 it may just take him some time. Please know you are not alone in this struggle. My hubby had invasive facial reconstructive surgery and he too suffered major self esteem issues. I‘d loved him for almost 30 years before he was diagnosed and didn’t think it possible to adore him any more but I did and I do. He looked more handsome and displayed a strength and tenacity I didn’t know was possible. He loves you and you are the safest of places for him. It’s getting much better here as Steven recovers. I very much miss the intimacy of our relationship, but we hug often and smile every day he gets a little further away from the isolation of his treatments and the surgery. Ending you an extra virtual squeeze today 💛

1246 Posts

Hello and welcome @Ivan2544 My heart goes out to you as I read and consider your circumstances. It's so hard to deal with some of the caustic behaviors that loved ones sometimes get when they are suffering and don't know where to go, what to do with it all.

My late wife sometimes got pretty upset, at times it was at me, other times just being angry at her own circumstance and suffering. It was a challenge to handle the behaviors at times.

Self image does suffer at times when one is very I'll and has any kind of invasive surgery or treatment. You might find it easier, atleast for yourself, to set boundaries that you are able to maintain, whether he does or not. For example, I used “time out” as one of my options when things got frustrating, and I would find someone to sit with her while I went out for a couple hours to give myself a break from the barrage of emotions. It worked really well for both of us.

You have already taken the first big step, in two ways. 1/ you have realized you can't handle this alone, and 2/ you are already reaching out to others who have been there and are ready to help.

There is a kind of “rule of thumb” I used when my wife got really upset. “a soft answer turns away wrath,” and that really helped. It simply involved not replying in the same tone, and when it looks feasible, give what assurance you can, TLC or other things that will help you take the high road.

Lol I actually learned these things from my wife as she was a social worker, and I was a nurse.

Just take it all one step at a time. And keep reaching out to others. That's the most important part.

Cynthia Mac
3876 Posts

Hi, @Ivan2544 , You’ve got some good advice already, and I remember @Brighty ‘s situation as if it were yesterday.

Yes, your boyfriend has been through a lot, but you shouldn’t be the brunt of that. You deserve respect for the way you’ve stood by him. If he wouldn’t speak to a radiology technician, or a nurse practitioner or any other of his health care team that way, he shouldn’t speak to you that way, either. You, as his caregiver, are part of his health care team and deserve the same respect as the other members of it. As you say, you are not a nurse, you are his girlfriend, so why should he treat you worse than he would a nurse?

I think you are right when you say, “I feel like I should just leave him alone…” Perhaps not “from now on,” but if I were in your shoes, my statement would end with “for a few weeks.”

I would make plans to go out with girlfriends, get dressed up, go for a nice dinner. You’ve been through a lot, too, and you deserve a break away from all this caregiving. Maybe go visit an aunt in Vancouver for a couple weeks or do something that will feed your soul.

It sounds as though your boyfriend has very specific wishes about what he wants. You’ve worked hard to meet those wishes throughout this. If I recall correctly, he was pushing you away early in the process, too. So maybe he really does want some alone time. Give him that, but don’t sit and fret - you deserve to live your life without an emotionally distant man beside you. And, you deserve a man who does see what this has done to you.

1108 Posts


wow…what an accomplishment - treatments finished ….THANK YOU.

as a former caregiver myself, I know that you probably haven't heard those words too often, am I right??!!

warning real talk ahead:
I was caregiver to my spouse who was diagnosed with a late stage cancer because I wanted to be there & I wanted to help because I LOVED this person- when I think about it all retrospectively - I would NEVER do it AGAIN.

I felt like a nurse/employee by the end of it all….in my situation I felt it was not worth the relationship status change. it is too late to do anything about all that now, but I hope you can salvage some part of your relationship if that is what you want.
sometimes tho, things like this show us who folks ‘really are’.

my dear old dad would always say; ‘you can tell a lot about a person by the way they treat the wait staff’. with my experiences I would add; ‘medical staff and caregivers’ to this little gem. ha ha ha

you have some wonderful advice - I hope you are able to access some counselling for YOU, and please please make sure you don't lose you in this process. boundaries are necessary - even with those folks that we love.

have a great weekend, thank you for posting, this will no doubt help many others.


#caregivingisHARDwork #intimatecaregiversareNOTstaff #selfhelp

1956 Posts

@Ivan2544 I‘m so sorry you are being treated so badly. Having cancer doesn’t give anyone the right to treat loved ones badly.

When I finished my breast cancer treatment I kept being invited to discuss my relationship issues and any problems with sexual relationships with a counsellor. And we had issues on both sides. I never took up the offer for therapy and we’ve worked things out, but it took a while. The biggest thing for us was communicating, even if there were tears…

I live with a partner who is frequently grumpy by nature. He takes on too much and things don’t always go his way. He gets stressed and overwhelmed and I get the brunt of it. I’ve learned to recognize the signs and avoid the situations where he might take things out on me. And I’ve learned to respond, not react. When someone is unpleasant to you the natural reaction is to be defensive and to match their tone. This gets you nowhere…But learning to stop, use a quiet tone and a reasonable voice to say ‘tell me what’s upsetting you’ or ‘how can I help’ or ‘sounds like you need to work off some anger’ can diffuse the situation.

It Sounds like you two may need some help to work things through. What do you both want. It sounds like you’ve been a great carer to him through treatment, and maybe not a partner. Does he want a partner or a carer? Which do you want to be? Hard questions…

There are many things that challenge relationships, and they change. You don’t have to stay with him if the situation is toxic, or it’s causing you pain.

Wishing you both well as you work it out. Essjay xx

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