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Feeling Stuck/Guilty/Resentful
Maze
3 Posts
Hello, I am writing here because I need to vent. I feel so overwhelmed and unsupported, guilty and confused. My partner has been battling lymphoma for 3 years. He has been off work for 2 years, but recently returned to work a few weeks ago. He has been told that he is not curable, and the treatment options are limited at this point. He was told last year that he has 30% chance of being alive in 5 years.

He's been unwell for a long time. Fatigue. Weakness. Pain. Anxiety and depression. Anger. I sometimes feel like he is not the man I knew before he got sick. Well, he probably isn't. The personality changes have been hard.

We have 2 kids. I work full-time. I deal with the kids' activities and school, lunches, etc. I deal with the bills, paperwork, household repairs, etc. He used to help out with the dishes a lot--did most of the dishes and some cleaning. But now that he's back to work, he doesn't do that as much.

I am frustrated, lonely, overwhelmed. He says he doesn't have the energy for these things, and I know that's partly true. However, I also think he could be doing more. He comes home from work and gets in the bath to relax for an hour. He goes for long drives alone. Meanwhile, I'm trying to save a sinking ship. If I ask him to do something he forgets, or says he'll get around to it if he can. But he usually doesn't. He's hot-tempered now. Before he got sick he was so laid back.

Honestly, I feel I'm getting sick emotionally and physically. This has been going on for several years, and I feel like I can't take another month. And yet, I also feel I can't leave him. He wouldn't be able to afford to live alone--his new job only pays minimum wage, because he did labour work before and he can't manage that any more. He has no education. His whole world would fall apart if I left, and who knows how much time he has left... a year? Five? I do love him, but I'm miserable. Do I sacrifice myself until he dies? How do I do everything by myself without getting resentful? Are my expectations too high? Is he taking advantage of the situation? When I point out all the things that need to get done and ask him for help, he gets mad. But I know he could manage to do at least some of those things if it was a priority to him. He's just so focused on his health and his fear of dying that doing things like the laundry, or running an errand, or fixing something, seem like an annoyance, not important. Meanwhile, me and the kids need to keep on living.

I know there are no answers to these questions. I just needed to vent and I hope someone can relate.
16 Replies
Brighty
6457 Posts
Maze‍ thank you for reaching out. It is a difficult situation and there are no easy answers. Personality changes and depression are common with cancer. Have you or he ever thought about talking with anyone about your situation? A social worker perhaps? It might also help to reach out to family members or good friends for help. Is there anyone that you may be able to count on to pitch in for things just to give you a break? Grocery drop offs... meal prep, or just someone who you can go for a walk with and take a load off with? Perhaps bubbling up with another family so the kids have others to play with in the back yard.....
dont be shy to reach out to ask others for help. There is no shame in it and it might make things easier for you and your husband. You may also want to call the cancer info line. They can give you suggestions or come up with resources for you . 1 888 939 3333. You dont have to deal all of this stress by yourself. So thanks for having the courage to admit it's too much sometimes.
Maze

Welcome to the community. I am sorry for all that you are going through and thank you for trusting us with your story. I have been both the cancer patient and the caregiver ( x 3 ) and I found it to be more emotionally challenging to be the caregiver. As a patient my emotions were at their peak at diagnosis and after treatment was over. A cancer diagnosis definitely affects the whole family. Covid limits the places we can go and the people we can see so that adds a whole other layer.

Brighty‍ gave you a great resource with our Cancer Information Helpline at 1-888-939-3333. Also at most cancer centres there is counselling for not only the patient but the family as well. They may be able to give you some coping skills to manage this dynamic.. You know your family best so as you say, we may not have the answers, but we are definitely here to listen and support you. I have no doubt that your post will resonate with some of our members and hope you hear from them.

There is lots of activity in our Caring for someone with cancer forum too. It can be found here: https://cancerconnection.ca/discussions/viewcategory/35

I hope you are able to set some time aside for yourself. Not always easy to do, I know.

Take care

Lianne

Trillium
961 Posts
Hello Maze,
I can relate to feeling overwhelmed, guilty, confused and angry when the father of my adult children died from brain cancer. He was in hospice for over a year when his prognosis was 3 mths and it was hard to support the kids through it all at a distance. It was even more complicated because he had bipolar disorder and the medications he took were not effective with the medication he took to stop the inflammation from the tumours.

Our situation was different because we were divorced but some of what you speak about was also part of our 15 yr marriage. I was angry because I felt that after all they have been through he then went and got sick and died. How could he do this to them? These feelings were part of the grief process for me and they did not last. It is very hard and difficult for the whole family to adjust when a parent becomes disabled by cancer. I think talking to us here and to a counsellor would be helpful for both you and your husband. You are not alone and I hope you find support to make it through this together as a family. Thanks for being here with us.

Warmest of hugs
Trillium
ACH2015
2007 Posts
Hi Maze

I have had cancer and a recurrence. My wife and I have always both worked in and outside of the home. Split up household duties as not to dump everything onto one or the others plate. During my multiple treatments and multiple recoveries, I did what I could, and built back up to where I was before cancer over the years.

I needed a kick in the butt a few times to jump start my motivation a few times - none of us are perfect, and adjusting to the new normal is tough. If you husband can go to to work - he has regained some of his abilities. Perhaps feeling like he is contributing to the family monetarily is super important to him as a man or just as a person. Try to bring him up to speed on the balance you both need restored as best you both can manage. There is no sense in harboring your frustration - share the concerns in a letter, and ask him if he would be willing to talk to you about it - or talk to you about it with a therapist or social worker. Cancer changes us in ways both mentally and physically that we can't control easily. It takes time for us to get imbalanced, and it will take time to rebalance as best as possible.

Your husband may benefit from 1 on 1 counseling to help him understand where he is in life and how he can be more contributory to you and share more as a family unit with involvement with the kids and homework and other related stuff like cleaning and cooking together. Everyone with a job to keep the house running.

I hope this helps and I wish you well.

Keep safe.

ACH2015
MCoaster
506 Posts
@Maze.

Hi and welcome.

I think I understand why you chose to be known here as MAZE. It is good that you have reached out to the Connection as it is a safe place to vent and to find and give support and know that you are listened to and are not alone.

You have already had really good suggestions. Only you know your partner and how your relationship does or doesn't work and if he would be receptive but it sounds as if you are might really do well to try counselling as ACH2015‍ suggests. Being the one who is experiencing life-shortening illness is hard to come to terms with. It is so easy to get bogged down and a skilled counsellor would help. As you are finding though being the caregiver can sometimes be even more stressful as the inability of their partner puts extra responsibilities on them as well as watching someone they love suffer. Please, please do not feel guilty! You are doing a really good job because you are holding everything together under tremendous stress and there will be a way to navigate the Maze. The cancer centre which your partner is linked with will have staff on hand to help not only the patient but also their family.

I was so lucky because my cancer was easily dealt with and I am looking at living a fairly normal life. If you browse this site though you will meet so many members who have been told that their cancer is not curable but often there is treatment which can extend their life for longer than they were initially told.

We are here for you and I hope you also have a support group who you can talk to and who will help you and your children. Brighty‍ had some very good suggestions about support for you.

Keep in touch and be gentle of yourself.

MCoaster








elle29
220 Posts
One couple moved to something more suitable for both of them . He has accepted his reduced life left with this uncertainty of when he is going to die . Have you ever asked him what would he like to do instead as a couple bc your part of this equation to not wanting to be his maid or especially a slave taken for granted . Your wanting to carry on as usual and for perhaps good reasons a home , a family life . You both may need to explore what is possible to do instead so as a couple u can enjoy this uncertain time left maybe couple counselling or sit down together to explore other options of living possibilities in your home or place with these supports .It's his life left and your marriage Maybe a trip , smaller place retirement home with meals provided . And freedom to come & go whenever ❓.Elle29
ACH2015
2007 Posts
elle29

You being up a good point for consideration in your post, re the not yet accepted or acceptance of his reduced life left with this uncertainty of when he is going to die. Who can say that this drastic situation would not cloud or change a person's priorities, abilities and direction in life. I believe the main thing any of us would need to do in this situation is to seek honest discussion, preferably with mutual consent to a therapist's input and decide if there can be some mutual change toward improved dynamics in the family unit.

Maze

It is a tough situation to be in 1) as a family unit, and 2) as a person that feels at the end of their rope without the sense of being able to cope any longer, and I really don't and can't blame you. We all have limits. Get yourself some counseling to get out your feelings and fears and frustrations. Write yourself and your husband a letter that details your feelings and concerns. It will serve to get your frustrations out in the letter to yourself, and put in black and white something your husband needs to see and realize, that he can read over and reflect on. Something that will hopefully shed light on the family and your needs as well.

Keep well, and keep safe.

ACH2015

Maze
3 Posts
Hello all,

Thank you for the words of encouragement, support, and advice. It’s been a long day. I’m working 60 hours this week, so not much chance to respond to individual replies, but I read and appreciate them all!!!
Trillium
961 Posts
Hello Maze‍ - My thoughts are with you today.

Hugs
Trillium
Maze

I had this post open a few days ago to respond and the interim you have gotten some excellent responses. When I was younger and involved more deeply in community development we had a saying that it "takes a community to raise a child." Now I'm convinced it takes a community to look after sick and dying folks. To often we relegate this job to medical professionals. We forget that around that person the normal activities of life have to go on.

With both of you working and raising children, the choreography required to manage it all gets intense. And when I read the words "stuck and overwhelmed" I can relate. Finding ways to develop that support community can be tough. Do you have family or close friends that give you a break? Is there a faith community that can do the "casserole thing?"

Often we forget that in our obsession with the sick, we need to look after ourselves. A spa day, just setting aside an hour to listen to music or read a book can be so important. It feels selfish but like the old airline adage, "unless we put on our oxygen mask," we can't help others.

Facing death is a challenge for me. I took a long drive early in my diagnosis with my oldest son. We didn't say anything. Just wandered through the countryside. Stopping now and then to get directions, pick up snacks, get gas, the day just went by. I don't know if it was the company or the soothing sight of scenery flowing by but at the end I was ready to tackle some big tasks that lay before me.

Wishing you peace and serenity for a day.

Angus

Maze
3 Posts
Thank-you WestCoastSailor‍ 🙏❤️
MCoaster
506 Posts
Maze

Hope that you can find the time and energy no matter how short for yourself today. 💐

MCoaster
Susievilla
4 Posts
I think everyone copes with cancer in their own way. Feelings of bitterness and anxiety of the unknown could be part of it. Knowing you are going to die soon is an overwhelming thought leaving you at a loss for the types of support you need. And in my case I don’t want to talk to family in case it upsets them which I know it will. So who do you turn to? Your husband is going through his own turmoil with no light at the end of the tunnel. I hope and pray for you that things get more manageable and that his last days on earth are filled with some quality.
ACH2015
2007 Posts
Hi Susievilla

I believe we all need to turn to our family in a way that works for all. If talking in person is too difficult, it makes sense to put your thoughts concerns and feelings down in writing. This way the important things can be understood and known, and this may open up a dialogue that is easier to deal with for all. We have the benefit of sharing with each other here - online to get some shared relief, information and understanding. But family is family and we need to share both the good and the bad. I always believed (and still do) it is best to be honest and upfront with everyone. Don't need the stress of remembering to whom I said what. Especially with covid and distance concerns, many people I know put out a blog to those they want to keep in the loop with email, FB etc... Simple ways to share without the need to hit replay constantly. Private messages and calls can be derived from this as well.

My thoughts.

ACH2015
Boby1511
363 Posts
Maze
I feel for your situation. I know that after my own cancer diagnosis, a lot of things changed. I do less around the house, my mood can be sketchy at times. Sometimes I just feel like I can't help myself and the angry feelings. I have to be alone for a bit.
Has your husband considered not working? Have you looked into CPP disability? I would think he would qualify given his condition.
I had to give up working after I became ill. And during treatment there was no way I could physically work. Now that I am feeling a little better, I wonder now if I should go back to work. My palliative doctor suggested I not return to work at this time. My doctor suggested waiting another 6 months and possibly revisit the idea. I am terminal, it's a question of when. I do feel good currently but that could change overnight for me.
Sending best thoughts out to you and your family.
CR25
4 Posts
I understand what you are going through since my grandfather was on 65 years old and he was diagnosed with brain tumor. He was a decent person but over time he started to get mood swings where he would get angry, depressed and moody. We tried to comfort him as much as we could but eventually he died.
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