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Husband with Cancer - Nurturer vs. Independent 
Started by debbied2007
17 Jan 2013, 6:10 PM

Good Morning, just a brief history of my life for the past five years.  October 26, 2008, my father passed away while battling cancer Cry.  He fought the disease for 5 years, only to die of pneumonia, which is common.  We buried him on October 30, 2008, a very cold and wintery day in the NWT.  Exactly one year later, my step father passed away, and to this day, I do not know what he died of Embarassed, as my mom does not talk about it.  My mother in law is now a cancer survivor, she was just cleared yesterday Smile .  My father in law is battling cancer and so is my mom.  On DECEMBER 11, 2012, 6:43PM, I was told my husband of 18 years has cancer.  This was a huge shock, as a week earlier, his family doctor cleared him of cancer.  As the weeks slowly progressed we found out that he had cancer in his colon, liver and lung.  Cry  I do not know what this means for his battle, as not only am I a nurturer, but I also don't like to ask questions, as I do not want to know the answer.

We have four daughters and 11 grandchildren.  One daughter has chrones and colitis; and my youngest has bi-polar.  Our youngest daughter and granddaughter resides with us.  Both my husband and I were currently diagnosed with pre-diabeties.  Which was a shock as we both are quite active and we eat healthy.  I also have high cholesterol and high blood pressure and I am on medication for both.  I'm learning more and more this is more hereditary than our lifestyle (which also can contribute).

As a nuturer caregiver, I am finding it quite difficult to provide care and nurturing to my husband who is indepedent.  I "nag" him about eating, as he's lost so much weight.  We are hikers and snowshoers and love going to the mountains to be active.  We also find spots around our community of Edmonton to be active.  However, due to his increase need to be near a washroom, our hikes have stopped.  I am finding it more and more difficult to stay home each evening, as previously, we were also out and about in the evening.  I'm sure this will change once it starts to get lighter out.  I can go for walks/runs in the evenings.  I know the next few months will be very difficult, but I am having a really hard time trying to nurture my husband as he keeps rejecting me.  I know he doesn't mean to and in no way will he ever knowingly hurt me.  I have so much to say, but seem to be at a loss of words for what I am feeling.  Every now and then I get so angry and I can't help myself when I direct it towards him.  I know this is wrong and I need to control this behaviour.  I also need to work on my positive attitude.  I have thoughts of losing him and I need to be positive so I can send positive vibes and energy out to him.  He is quite positive and his goal is to be a cancer survivor.  His team of specialists are positive about battling the cancer too.  Thank you for listening and allowing me to vent.
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Reply by NatR
17 Jan 2013, 6:39 PM

Dear Debbied2007,

My dear friend.
I have looked at your note just now...and it seems like all the important people in your life have or are having great health challenges...and that you have personally suffered much loss, and face much stress.

If I had a magic wand...I would certainly want to wave it over your note...and take away some of your pain.

Unfortunately I cannot.  But, you have found a place where you can vent, be angry, be sad, and just journal your days....and be heard by people who have faced similar life events..or who work with others who deal with these events.

All of the forum members care.  I feel fortunate to be one of the people who is able to respond and offer you a listening ear.  Just to be able to get that load off your mind..helps.  Just to be yourself...speak about what hurts, what matters...what bothers you...anything you have to say...will be read, will be responded to...and you will feel better just by the sharing you do.

It is true that sharing a burden lightens the load.  Not many understand that phrase but I find it to be very true.  I count on my friends, my family to hear me when I need some input...and now..today...you need that gift...a non-judgmental place to get things out.

I am so sorry that you have had so much thrown at you in your life...it is so hard...just to have one person sick in your family...I can only imagine how difficult your load is.  But you will make it.

I hear a strong, capable person writing that note.
I hear how you want to support, how you want to care and how you do care...and how you also plan on caring for yourself...(getting out for runs, walks or just out in the fresh air)

I am so sorry about the difficulties communicating with your husband. I am sure that others on the forum will have some ideas and guidance for you.  Colleen our moderator will also make suggestions to you...if you need professionals to talk to.

Please know...that as you share your story...I for one am touched and honoured to hear it.  If I could I would give you a personal hug.  From a distance we can reach out and do that...its energy that goes with each message...and the energy that comes with your message tells volumes about your life and how you have coped.

Personally as you have mentioned dealing with your own health issues...you know its important to look after you...as much as looking after your husband and extended family who need you too.  So please...remember that...take care of you:) 

Dont be too hard on yourself.  I hope you will continue to write and share your story..not only do you find support here, but you are also sharing your experience with others who may gain insight from your words...as they deal with their own story.

Sharing - letting others in...is a great way to reduce the stress on yourself.
The anger that you feel is normal I believe...and I feel that your husband may also feel that anger ....You sound like you already know what to do...think toward positives, do small steps, taking one day at a time...and you mentioned not wanting to know diagnoses or details.  Sometimes its just too much to take in.  We all have our limits.

I am glad you found the forum..
Sending you a prayer today..for peace.. 
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Reply by Brayden
18 Jan 2013, 2:16 AM

Dear Debbied,

NatR has responded to you in her usual loving care and kind words. I just too want to say that it will be imparitive for you to get a lot of support and rest from people you can rely on. You may feel like you are coping but the stress can very easily sneak up on you and wear you down. That would make it even more difficult communicating with your husband without getting angry. Having your daughter and granddaughter living with you could be a blessing  in disguise. It could help you get your mind on other things. I trust that you will keep posting and we can keep giving you feedback. As NatR said, we all care about you. I send my warmest thoughts which for the next two months are coming from sunny and warm Scottsdale, Az. I will not be running in cold Winnipeg for this winter.

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Reply by debbied2007
18 Jan 2013, 4:48 PM

Thank you NatR for your posting.  Your care and comfort brought tears to my eyes, as I read your kind words.  As a mother of 4 daughters and the oldest daughter of 5 sibblings, I am the pillar of strength for my family(s) and very rarely am I recognized for my strength.  So thank you again.  Reading your posting made me feel like you know me so well, and calling me your dear friend was another touching gesture.  Obviously you are a genuinely caring person.  It comes out in your words; your magic wand may not be able to take away some of the pain, but your words definitely do.  The stresses in my life are huge right now, but it is all relative.  Just to clear up a misunderstanding, both my husband and I communicate very well with each other.  He keeps me posted of what his day entailed, especially the appointments I cannot go to. 

The loss and stress that I have today, always heals with time.  When my dad passed away, the pain I felt was tremendous.  I couldn't imagine ever living without that pain.  We would be driving by a cemetary, and I would burst out crying, imaging my dad in the cold cold ground, all alone, in the dark.  Now I imagine him every now and then, walking beside me, guiding me through all this "horror story".  I enjoy when he comes to visit me in his dreams.  But yes, time does heal everything (I guess the medication helps too, for my high cholesterol and blood pressure). 

This forum is a GREAT place to vent; to just be myself.  As a caregiver, I DID NOT know I needed support, until a friend (cancer survivor) asked me on Wednesday, do you have a support group?  I couldn't believe I was so busy caring about my family, I forgot about me.  Unfortunately, all my very good friends do not live near me, so I did have virtual support, but not support in the way I needed it.  This forum is exactly what I need.  It allows me to be open, honest and without judgement.  It allows me to meet people with similar issues, and to respond in my own time.  Sharing is how I release my stress, but because I'm such a private person, sharing doesn't come easy.  Nor does trust.  So, again, the perfect forum for privacy.  I can talk about what is bothering me.  For the past 5 years, we've been focusing on family, rebuilding our relationship with our grown up daughters, which was lost when they were in the middle to late teens.  Because family has been so important, both my husband and I are best friends.  We do everything together!  We haven't had a chance to build our support and friendship group in our community. 

I've been trying to take care of myself - I know my health is just as important as those I am a caregiver to.  Both my daughter and I will be joinging Curves next week.  Not to lose weight, but to tone up on our muscles and to get in shape. 

With a positive body, comes positive thoughts.  Again, NatR, thank you.  You are awesome, and I am so happy to have you as a friend. 
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Reply by debbied2007
18 Jan 2013, 4:58 PM

Hi Brayden,

thank you very much for your posting and encouraging words.  The stress of all what is going on in my life does take it's toll on me.  It does wear me down and that is when I become angry and lash out.  This is an awesome forum, I am very fortunate to find it. 

Actually you are right about our daughter/granddaughter living with us, it is a blessing in disguise.  We've helped raise our granddaughter, Emily, since she was conceived.  Our daughter decided to be a single parent and we promised her as long as she needs help with raising Emily, we will be there.  She is so sweet and so smart.  Her mother has gone away for a weekend trip to visit her sister, so we have Emily for the weekend. 

My husband starts his radiation and chemo on Monday, Jan. 21/13 - so yesterday and today he's been attending the Cross Cancer Institute classes to learn more about the drugs he will be given, and possible side effects.  Today is a good day for me.  I actually got through the morning without getting angry Tongue Out.  I'm thinking that it is because I was able to vent yesterday. 

Enjoy sunny and warm Scottsdale, AZ...as it starts to chill in Edm...-15 tomorrow, brrrrrr.  But I think we will be taking Emily sliding, that is my goal anyway, hopefully my husband will be feeling good enough to do something active.  Those days are few and far in between and I know it will get worse before it gets better.  However, it will get better and we are looking forward to when we can do some hiking in Scotland this year.  Cheers Brayden and take care of yourself.  debbied2007
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Reply by NatR
18 Jan 2013, 5:05 PM

Dear Debbied2007,

you are very welcome. As a caregiver myself I know how you feel - in some Ways 
i am thrilled to know my nite was received favourably - I re read it and could have changed it for sure / in places

i am glad you and your husband are close and joining forces together.
 Its great you and your daughters have plans to go tone up, work out - just take care of you, a little time just for you.

i am a walker - ;) at least a couple hours a day!

i want to say thanks to Brayden who graciously interacts with the forum and always has amazing insight for those writing and those replying:)
there are so many forum connections - each of them have such great input and perspectives whether they are asking to be heard or replying to someone's need 

you are right Debbie it is a safe place.
we all need one.

thinking of you today and please know how happy it makes me to know you feel welcomed and safe here .we also are incredibly strong and protective of our loved ones - we are all or will soon be caregivers or need caregiving 

take care of you - as we are all struggling to do that .  
Be well;)
hugs NatR  
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Reply by marstin
18 Jan 2013, 9:57 PM

Hi Debbied2007,

As others on this site have said, please feel free to vent. It has brought me much consolation to know that there is a support system just waiting to reach out on here. I can hear the frustration in your words and how much you want to stay strong. You have suffered many losses in your lifetime and probably met them head on and dealt with them with strength and dignity. From personal experience, I can tell you that when it comes to your partner, it becomes harder to cope with. My husband of 23 years,Len, was having issues in his lower back in October 2011. Scans showed no sign of a tumor. We were so relieved. He was to see a specialist in January 2012 but the pain got so bad that he went to emergency a few weeks before his appointment. After many tests, it was determined that he had bladder cancer. His doctor was so upset when he heard, that he sent the scan back to be rechecked. It came back the same and negative. So began the the back and forth to the hospital with pain issues and such. My healthy man was not doing very well and I, being so dependant on him for everything ,was frightened. Like you, I did not want to ask too many questions in fear that the answers were not what I wanted to hear. In some ways I still believe that I needed to be like that to get through all that was going on. I too stressed over the weight loss and the times where communication was difficult. I was angry with Len quite often. I think it was the fear that our lives might never be the same and I felt so powerless to do anything about it. This was something I could not fix. Sadly, for my two daughters and myself, Len lost his battle on July 15th which had a huge impact on my mom and we lost her 7 weeks later. I can only hope that your outcome will be different. Keeping active is a key to your mental health during all of this. Do you have anyone who could get out and walk with you? It sounds like this has been a key element in your life. Talk, talk, talk to anyone who will listen to you. This will bring you some comfort. Surround yourself with good friends. Although it is your husband fighting this disease, it can really take its toll on you, the caregiver. In our household, I was the one with all of the health issues so it was a huge surprise when Len became so sick. We on this site will be there for you no matter how you want to share it . Sometimes it is easier to honestly share your emotions with strangers. Please continue to reach out, there is always someone here to support you..
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Reply by debbied2007
18 Jan 2013, 10:31 PM

Thank you Tracie for your kind words and the sharing of your experience.  I cannot imagine my life without my husband...I just can't.  I've thought about it, but try to get rid of that negative energy and replace it with the good memories we've had of hiking and snowshoeing, spending time with family and knowing that we are both strong to make it through this. 

I am so sorry fo you and your daughter's loss; you are obviously a very strong person to have to endure the loss of your husband.  Being a caregiver to a partner is a difficult role.  I too, am dependent on my husband for everything; love, comfort, joy, friendship, everything.  I've just learned that the weight loss is normal, and I shouldn't force him to eat.  Understanding what is happening to his body really helps me cope.  One less stresser on me to try to "control". 

The loss of my father tore my world apart - it took me 3 years to grieve his loss - with  strength and dignity, hmmmm, perhaps at times, but not all the time.  I was with my dad for 8 days, as he wanted to die at home.  So for 8 days I helped take care of him day and night...in a community where I didn't belong and was not respected in the fact that I was his oldest daughter.  I was a stranger in his and his wife's home, so only lasted 8 days.  I wanted to stay with him until he passed but the stress of no support took it's toll and I had to leave.  I didn't return until his funeral. 

I have a friend who I can talk with every day.  We go for a half hour walk every lunch hour, and she allows me to talk and vent.  She just lost her father in law to cancer, so I was her shoulder when she was going through this.  I am so comforted in knowing there are "strangers" out there willing to share.  Once contact is made with me, you are immediately a virtual friend.  You've shared your story and experiences.  This has helped me, not only in your words, but in the comfort that there are people out there listening. 

I chose nurturer vs. independent, because I am the nurturer, and my husband is totally independent.  I now know why we are together.  As a caregiver who is naturally a nurturer, the stresses that I put upon myself are HUGE!  No matter what I do or say, it will always be there.  I will always worry...I will always care...I will always help...this has made my relationship with my husband very strong.  He walks past the panhandlers, and I stop and give them my last 5 dollars.  He says sorry once, and I apologize profusely, very different and yet so alike in many other ways, which is why we are the perfect match ♥  Thank you again Tracie for sharing and providing your support.  It is greatly appreciated.  debbied
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Reply by moderator | modératrice
21 Jan 2013, 7:28 PM

Hi Debbied and Tracie,

How are things with both of you today?
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Reply by marstin
24 Jan 2013, 6:11 PM

Hi Debbied,

Sorry for the delay in answering you. I did start writing back a few days ago but when I hit send, it disappeared into cyberspace.

I am sorry that the loss of your dad was so painful. With both of my parents, I was able to be there when they took their last breath but my brother was away when my dad passed and even now, nearly 5 years later, he suffers and feels guilty.

I am glad that you have a friend to talk to. It can be difficult if you are without that support. For myself, my life was totally focused on Len, my Mom, and my daughters. When I lost Len and Mom back to back I truly didn't think I could make it through, they were my best friends. I had many people swoop in offering all kinds of help in the beginning but what I found was that only a small handful followed through. These people are the gems in my life, Although most of them live at a distance, they have helped me keep my sanity by their neverending support and constant phone calls. It's funny in a way but they are my friends from back when I was in highschool and in my early 20's and just resurfaced when I was so desperately in need of a shoulder to cry on. How fortunate I am.

It has been 6 months since Len lost his battle and yet it feels so new and so raw. I don't think there is anything in life that can prepare you for the emotions that take over when you are fighting for someone's life and in some cases, when all of your love and effort can't make things better. I hear you talk about anger and I know that emotion so well. My daughter's tell me that I'm always angry  but they also don't have to deal with the same pressures that come with being the one and only adult and having so many people take advantage of you because there isn't a man around. That is not to say that they aren't having to deal with their own pain and fear since Len's illness and death have created such a horrible financial pit and we are now having to sell our home, which the bank owns most of, and relocate. I have been a stay at home mom for nearly 19 years so I live in fear of what the future looks like and what we will do. What I do know is that we will do this together.

How are your husband's treatments going? How is all of this affecting you? I hope you continue to share so that we all can be there to help support you when you need it.

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