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The treatment cycle
teeny
4 Posts
It is so nice to be able to post and get perspective on different issues or to even know your not alone.
Tomorrow is my boyfriends treatment day, he is doing immunotherapy(nivolumab) and we have spent some time together before it but as usual he is a little distant and all that I was looking for was some affection but when I would go to hold his hand he would say that he wasn't feeling it. Basically most contact he didn't seem to want. Hurts the ego a little but I feel that I can manage better and I am not nagging him about it. But the thing that does bother me is that he has had sore ribs for over a month now and he has not mentioned it to his oncologist. That might be something to mention. They should be kept in the loop with your symptoms right? We had a serious talk one evening when he was up for it and he pretty much told me he just wants to ignore everything going on and let the professionals do what's best. It is tough to sit back and watch him do that. In the health care system it is important to be your own advocate. He just wants to ignore it all till its done. I am of the opposite view. I am a go getter kind of person. Research and find things to help and stuff like that. I have stepped back a lot and realized his decisions are his and I am accepting that but it makes me sad sometimes to just watch. He has become a lot less active. Some days he does not get out for a walk or any type of physical activity and his eating is not very healthy and consists of a decent amount of sugar. I am no professional in the field but the professionals have offered suggestions but he seems to not take much from what they say. I realize that treatment wipes some peoples energy and he has had some suggestions to get a regular sleep routine limit naps to less than an hour and go for daily walks but he does not seem to be trying any of these suggestions. I really do love him but it is hard to see him let his health sit on the back burner. I have no way of understanding the stress that he could possibly be going through. He also does not want to talk to me about it either. I can be supportive but I don't even know what it is he needs from me. I am trying to lead more by example than pull him along as my psychologist has suggested but how do I just sit and watch his choices that aren't helping his health...
4 Replies
Brighty
6457 Posts
Hi teeny‍ . I do feel for what you are going through. I went through something similar to you. Unfortunately, a cancer diagnoses often changes relationships. It can have an impact on both partners well beings, it causes mood changes, depression, affects energy levels, and sometimes body image. How was your relationship before diagnoses? Was your boyfriend a good communicator? Mine wasn't one to ever communicate feelings before, so a cancer diagnoses was not about to bring out a side of him that was never there before. It''s so hard , so very hard when the person doesn't communicate with you. You have no idea what is going on inside them and no idea how to help. If they'd only give you some sort of clue what they wanted, you could take their lead. He could be terrified, but he could also be keeping his feelings in to protect you. I found out much later that my guy did not want me to be any more upset or terrified than I already was. He kept everything bottled inside, suffered in silence. Partly because that's who he was, and partly he thought he was a burden on me (which he wasn't). He wanted to protect me from the ugliness of what he was going through.
He also had issues, many issues that he kept from his health care team. And I, like you believe you must be proactive and tell everything that's going on , or else how can they help you? He was so beaten down, so defeated, so depressed. He became resigned to everything and got to the point where he couldn't care less. He just wanted to forget, he wanted his normal life back.
And like your boyfriend, he didn't always made good decisions regarding his health. He smoked and drank all through treatment. There was nothing, absolutely nothing I could do to stop it. No amount of nagging, begging or crying would stop him. He did not listen to the suggestions of the health care professionals............... It was his decision, like you said. The cigarettes and alcohol were the only thing he enjoyed. It got to the point where I was not allowed to his appointments anymore because I was going to be honest with the doctors............... and he didn't want them knowing half the stuff he was up to. Like you as well, all I could do was sit back and watch and shed many many tears.
The hardest part is the sitting back. I like your therapists suggestion of leading by example. My therapist even got me to set boundaries. If he was going to continue to smoke and drink, he was not to come over. I know your situation is a different but the feelings and the pain you feel are the same. That helpless feeling. You feel so so torn. You want so badly to help but don't know how.
It seemed like he wasn't trying either, but because he didn't share with me, I had no idea the torment going on in his head, how much he suffered. Would he be willing to talk to someone? Mine was not. And I couldn't force him. It just destroyed me inside to watch and witness. I sought therapy for myself, and I tried my hardest to continue with the other parts of my life as normal. ........go to work, see friends, do my errands...........do my exercizes...............I tried to compartmentalize. Sometimes I even had to give myself a 'mental distance' from the situation because it became unbearble at times. Mental breaks, if you will. Or else the situation would consume ever aspect of my being. Do you have anything you can do to take a break from the situation?
Continue to reach out, continue to be in touch with family and friends, continue to make the other parts of your life as normal as possible or this can consume you. I'm glad you are seeing a therapist and I'm glad you reached out. There is no easy answer or solution to this. It's a very tough situation.......... the rock and the hard place thing. ............ Just know you are being heard and we understand.
teeny
4 Posts
Hi Brighty . Oh it’s been a tough one and so much of what you said makes sense. He ended up breaking up with me early this week because he said he couldn’t be in a relationship right now. That is so understandable but so hard. He said he felt guilty so much of the time because he couldn’t put as much effort into the relationship as he’d want to. It’s tough cause we did couples counselling and it would have been soo good if these things were brought up but they just never were. He tends to withdraw from stress and same goes now. Might be better for us to just each focus on ourselves and hopefully this brings down his stress and his treatments and everything go well. Just makes me wonder what with his was honeymoon phase, or cancer or COVID. Was it the cancer that just totally destroyed the communication between us or was it always going to be that way. Hard to wonder and all I can be is in the present now. He did what he decided was best for him and I have to respect that but it hurts soo much.
Brighty
6457 Posts
teeny
I'm so so sorry. And I'm so sorry that none of this came up in couple's councelling. Cancer certainly changes the dynamic of a relationship. A person who was so strong, so independent, so in control, suddenly loses all that control. They feel powerless, useless, and now reliant on their partner. They lose all sense of independence and pride. They just can't accept help or support, or being the one who has to rely on others. They don't want to feel like a burden, and don't want their partners to have to put their lives on hold, having to look after them. So many things go on in the minds of cancer patients. Some couples make it and some don't . Sometimes the very foundation that the relationship was built on is now broken. I have no idea what the case is for him, or what went through his mind. Did he ever communicate to you the real reason?
My fiance gave me many passive aggressive "outs" for these very reasons. He would send me texts like "move on with your life." "I'm useless to you now." His self esteem and self worth were shot and it broke my heart. He felt so guilty, he thought he was holding me back from living my life.
Forsure my fiance was not himself anymore, and your boyfriend might not be feeling himself anymore. They were/are dealing with a life threatening illness and so many changes to their lives. It's possible he just needs time to himself to think, to process what's happening to him.....and right now he can't handle a relationship on top of a diagnoses. He wants to focus on treatment and may want you to focus on yourself and your life. It will never mean you stop caring about him. You can always send a text to check in with him from time to time and let him know you are thinking of him. And if feel you can, and he needs the emotional support, be there for him with no talk about the relationship for now. But leave that to him now, to reach out to you.
In the meantime, you need someone YOU can reach out to. Keep talking, keep acknowledging your feelings with a councellor or good friend. You are hurting right now too. Take this time apart to take care of yourself, to create a sense of normalcy back into your life, to reconnect with friends and to think about your future.
You may never know the answer if it was the cancer that destroyed things or the lack of communication or both. But I hope you find peace, and happiness again one day. You deserve it and we will be here to support you.
teeny
4 Posts

@Brighty

He gave me some reasons for the break up. He mostly said that he couldn't be in a relationship right now. But he also said that he felt guilty lots of the time not being able to put as much effort into the relationship as he wanted. He mentioned that maybe we had less things in common than at first and also that he didn't feel like giving me affection or kissing or cuddling. He just said he didn't even want to do it. Another thing he said is that a relationship shouldn't feel like this and this just isn't how a relationship should be. He had also said maybe the relationship was causing too much stress. These things make sense considering what he is going through but he just never really talked to me or let me in on this stuff. Sad that it got to this point and I do hope everything goes well for him. I did reach out to his sister just to let her know what happened and to make sure that someone was there for him in case he didnt reach out but turned out he did. Made me feel a bit like I didn't really know him.

He said lots of reasons but it still doesn't all make sense to me and I do really miss him. It has been just over a week and I just keep thinking about how bad I want him back still. Still need to process my feelings and see if this is what I really want but for now I can not talk to him or have any contact because it hurts too much just thinking about it.

I really do care about him and enjoyed a lot of the times we had. Of course we did have some issues. Things were pretty high stress with Cancer and Covid. Really limited what we could do at times and I was finally coming around to accepting that and accepting his decisions and being more supportive over being pushy and over bearing. He still has 6 months of treatments left to go. i would like to be able to talk to him again and see him again but I am going to have to wait until I can just be there for him and not try to ask about the relationship or any other things like that.

it is tough cause when he broke up with me he said he had wanted to do it on a friday but didnt want to ruin my time so he saved it for a monday. I work in accounting and it is really busy right now and I ended up taking a day off. Soo many thoughts going through my head. He said part of the reason he went on long term was so that he would have some more energy for our relationship and he also said that he wanted it to work and it was worth it. A few months ago he mentioned our relationship was at a point where either we keep going or maybe shouldnt and it hurt to hear him say that. But he said he did it so that neither of us would be blind sided. But then I felt blind sided when he did break up with me. He was distant and I thought it was just because it was the week of his treatment and he invited me over for supper. He had it made on the table and a candle light the house all cleaned up and blinds open to let light in. he only does that for me becasue he likes being in the dark. he made small talk and then when I said ok lets go for a walk at my place he said idk as a response to me several times until it upset me and I asked what is going on will you say anything besides I dont know right now and he said that he hoped we could have a talk about us tonight.

When I went to grab my stuff and leave he said that i didnt have to hurry and do that i could take my time to get my stuff. i actually didnt have much there and then later he said well he thought i would stay and talk a little more. What is there to talk about when his mind is made up. He can be very stubborn and I pleaded my case but it changed nothing so time to leave.

What is the point of me taking my time getting my stuff or talking more? He also let me know if I had any questions I could ask him cause thats what he had wished from his ex and never got. Now with time to think I have a ton of questions but there is no point in asking them. But all I want is to be with him again. To hear from him to see him but that would destroy me at the same time.

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