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Hope you don't think I am crass, but I do need advice

(206 Posts)
grandtanteJE65 Tue 15-Aug-23 12:15:51

Yesterday we were hit by the bombshell: my husband presumablly has a malign tumour and the prognosis is not good.

He quite understandably has managed to understand the doctor's words much more favourably than I did, and I do realise that this is a coping strategy that he is using to find the strenght to fight the cancer.

I have no desire to undermine his efforts, but these include refusing to discuss the subject and initially asking me not to tell anyone - son, SILs friends etc. although he later agreed that I need someone to talk to about this.

So please, if any of you who have been the healthy partner in a marriage that looks like being dissolved by death very soon, can you give me any pointers?

How do I balance his needs with mine?
How do I help him best?
And how do I find the strength to smile "Although my heart is breaking"

I am looking at support groups right now, but as we don't live in the UK, you don't need to suggest any by name, as we have different ones here.

I know I married him for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, and I know we are both shell-shocked right now. and the prognosis may not look so dire on Friday when the biopsy report is in, but I need to soldier on without weeping, as obviously that distresses my husband and does me no good either.

2020convert Tue 15-Aug-23 12:25:52

Sorry to hear your news. Can’t offer any experienced support but I’m sure many will be able to relate and do so. You are both in shock. Good luck for Friday and do accept all the support that is offered professionally.

grandMattie Tue 15-Aug-23 12:37:47

My husband died of metastatic prostate cancer this time last year.
At first, he wouldn’t tell any one, but I persuaded him that his children needed to know.
The only thing I can say is that I followed his desires as far as possible. When I cried, it was in private. Accept help from any agency offering it - MacMillan was a waste of space but the community nurses and hospice were fantastic.
Be strong, sadly you will have plenty of time to fall apart later. It is a horrible, horrible time…

Urmstongran Tue 15-Aug-23 12:38:01

Oh grandtante my heart goes out to you. It’s such an awful shock isn’t it? I howled in the shower where I played the radio too - that and the sound of the water camouflaged my own noise. It’s beyond devastating isn’t it?

P.m. me any time. I don’t like to say too much about our lives now on a public forum.

Katie59 Tue 15-Aug-23 12:51:09

You have the initial shock, it will get easier, when you know the prognosis you will make your plans, this happens to most couples, a friend is going through this now.
After several rounds of therapy it’s palliative care, prognosis is less than a year, they are doing all the things they didn’t do, for as long as they can, there are good and bad days of course.

You should do as much as you can for as long as you can, you are only going to get limited help from social services, when mum became immobile I was able to find local paid help to give me some respite, you will be surprised who is willing when you start asking.

Hithere Tue 15-Aug-23 12:54:16

So sorry!

Anticipatory grief is part of the process you may be going to go through and therapy is so helpful

Your needs matter too - so glad to recognize that

Start making a care plan and decide what you can do cs what you don't have the knowledge or physical strength to do

You won't be able to fully take care of him because it is not a realistic expectation

Weeping is a very normal feeling right now - choose the right place to feel them, suppressing them is not a good idea

Things get better once you know the diagnosis and treatment plan - this is the worst moment of the whole journey

Carve some time daily for you to decompress

If you have pets, have a support system that can petsit in case of emergencies

Whitewavemark2 Tue 15-Aug-23 12:55:06

My heart goes out to you all.

We all know by the time we reach this age that one of us will be left and it is the most difficult road any of us will have to travel (unless it is a child) .

I think of those travelling this road every day, but words never seem enough, so I say very little.

Hithere Tue 15-Aug-23 12:57:48

Also sent you a PM, op

littleflo Tue 15-Aug-23 12:58:47

My stepfather refused to allow anyone to know he was ill and the fallout for my mum was horrible.

I would ask him to give you a month where no one is told and then ask him to discuss it again. If he still refuses, I think you have an equal duty to your son as to your husband.

Be truthful with your son and tell him that you are speaking to him about this against his father’s wishes. I lost my Father to cancer when I was very up young. Knowing he was sick helped me cope with his death. I would have felt betrayed if I had not been allowed time to prepare myself.

Cabbie21 Tue 15-Aug-23 13:01:52

I am so sorry to read your news.
Although not quite the same, my late husband was not really hearing the reality of his situation, ie heart failure. In one sense that was good, as he had such a positive attitude and was determined to get better after his heart attack, but sadly it was not to be. I had to encourage him, and not be negative, as he often suffered from anxiety despite his positivity. But if the opportunity arose, occasionally I gently reminded him that his heart was very weak, and he might not be able to manage to do x, y or z.
In particular I wanted him to make sure his affairs were in order, but he did not manage to update his will, which has caused us a few problems.
I did not need to worry about telling the family as they heard it from the consultant in hospital themselves.
Friends who heard he was in hospital did not ask questions but prayed for us, which was a great comfort.
I am not sure how helpful I have been. Most of the time we were just getting on with coping with whatever needed to be coped with, as indeed I still am. You will need all the support you can get from your family, so I think it is essential that they know so that they can be there for you.

crazyH Tue 15-Aug-23 13:02:39

So sorry to hear this news flowers

sodapop Tue 15-Aug-23 13:03:05

So sorry to hear the news about your husband grandtanteJE65. It does take time to process everything. Take all the support available especially from your family. There are support groups here in France for families as well as the patient I think. CSF comes to mind. The local nurses were a great help to my friend when her husband was diagnosed. They visited regularly and offered advice as well as treatment. I hope you both find the strength to deal with this, you have my sympathy.

Iam64 Tue 15-Aug-23 13:22:19

My husband died 10 months ago, 6 months after a devastating stage 4 metastasised cancer which had spread extensively. I’ve pm’d you.

Kate1949 Tue 15-Aug-23 13:35:11

I'm so sorry to hear this grandtante. My DH was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014. Fortunately, after treatment and many hospital visits/scans etc, he is still in remission.
The shock of that diagnosis is harid to explain as you have sadly discovered. My DH didn't want anyone to know as we were going in holiday with family. That holiday was very hard. On oir return, we told people and were glad we did. The support was much needed and appreciated. Our daughter said she would have been devastated if we hadn't told her and the worst happened. McMillan can give help and support. I wish you both all the luck in the world.

Iam64 Tue 15-Aug-23 13:42:33

Kate1949 - we told our daughters, siblings and close friends. Their support wonderful. Like your daughter, ours say they’re so relieved to have been aware and able to make the best we could of the time we had left
We were unlucky - his cancer was extensive and aggressive. Treatments, including palliative treatments can stop some cancers and extend life and it’s quality for msny

Kate1949 Tue 15-Aug-23 13:46:20

Yes Iam we were lucky. I'm so sorry about your DH. My heart goes out to you and all others in this horrible situation.

MadeInYorkshire Tue 15-Aug-23 13:50:38

I am very sorry and send my very best to you.

I think that finding out what will happen when the time comes re finances etc is important, even though he may not want to talk about it, it will impact you in the future, so maybe a bit of googling about what happens in the country you are in, ? France in the meantime?

I certainly do think your son should be told, as if something happened and he did not know he would be very resentful, and he would be able to help you through this hopefully? My ex-husband didn't take our children to see their grandpa even when he was ill but able to talk to them etc, and he died, they were heartbroken that they weren't able to say goodbye and hadn't seen him in years. He hasn't taken them to see their Grandma either, so when my eldest daughter died in November, she was very upset as she hadn't seen her for about 10 years. The last time either of them went to see her was when I took them years ago as we were sort of passing on the way up from the south to my mum in Yorkshire, (we didn't even get on) but I just thought that it was the right thing to do! She is now well into her late '90's, my daughter can now drive herself, but has 2 young children, and taking them on a 2 hr car journey each way to go and see someone for 20 minutes would really be too much. She is very deaf so they can't call her, and although she used to email, she can no longer see ... it's very sad, but shows how resentment can build.

3dognight Tue 15-Aug-23 14:16:08

A post up thread suggested telling no one for a month and having a rethink.

I think this is the way to go.

There will be a way through all this, it won’t be pleasant or easy but you will get through.

My DH is slowly dying from leukaemia, and has been for seven years, and he’s pretty ok at the moment
We get through by just laughing about it. I realise this may be unusual, but I cannot start stressing and worrying before I absolutely have to.

But to answer you on some points -
Balancing his needs with yours, you will know how by seeing how he is day by day, if it’s a bad day I know I would put my immediate needs on the back burner. So long as I could walk outside and see some greenery and sky and do abit of deep breathing for five minutes that would enable me to get through.

Help him best,
By quiet observation, being on hand to help with all and everything and enabling him to attempt to have the sort of day he wants.

How will you smile when you’re heart is breaking.
You may not, you’ll probably weep in front of him, as well as laugh. You’ll weep together and both weep alone.
It’s hard to keep it all bottled up.

Sorry such a long post, I really do feel for you. If it helps come on here and talk to all of us anytime. Xx

Sago Tue 15-Aug-23 14:30:43

So sorry to hear this news.

I was in your husband’s position when I was 37 with 3 young children.

I too asked my husband to keep it between us.

I could not deal with other people’s reactions and emotions, I needed time to come to terms with it myself first.

My husband dealt with it badly as he was frightened of the prospect of child rearing alone,he kept saying “it will be alright “.
Honestly I could have killed him…he didn’t know it would be OK and I needed him to help me with a plan to move forward if it wasn’t.

I had successful surgery and further treatment and hit 60 this year, I am in overall good health.

I hope the prognosis is not as bad as you fear but either way formulate a plan together, find someone to confide in,talking is cathartic and take any help or support that is offered.

Smileless2012 Tue 15-Aug-23 14:35:23

I have no experience grandtante but didn't want to pass by without saying how sorry I am flowers.

Norah Tue 15-Aug-23 14:47:53


Wheniwasyourage Tue 15-Aug-23 15:03:19

Very sorry to hear your news, grandtante65. I have no experience as difficult as what you are going through, but when my DH had cardiac problems and was waiting for major surgery (which turned out to be successful, fortunately), I found my family and my close friends gave me a lot of support. Even knowing they were there if I wanted to talk was helpful. Once your husband has started to come to terms with what is happening, he may find that family and friends are helpful for him as well, and it's early days yet, after all.

As for keeping a smile on your face, it's hard when the initial shock is still raw, but don't be afraid to treat yourselves to things, food, days out, even TV programmes or films that you enjoy, and make the very most of what time you have together. The dusting will always keep.

I hope the biopsy report is not as bad as you fear. flowers

Gymstagran Tue 15-Aug-23 16:04:26

There is no right or wrong in this situation. There are just daily struggles to get through. When my daughter was on palliative care I told her I had to be strong for her. She told me that meant she had to be strong for me. We both struggled and did our best which is all you can do. Its a very lonely scary time.

Georgesgran Tue 15-Aug-23 16:38:57

DH received his devastating news on Christmas Eve 2015 - stage IV, metastised, terminal and given 3 months - despite being assured that tests in November had shown nothing and a kidney stone was likely to have been responsible for his aches and pains. It was surmised that it must’ve broken down and been passed.
We had all the family here and couldn’t face keeping the news, so all were told and DH ‘announced’ it on his FB page before NYE.
In January ‘16, I took a call for him - despite the rules, the Consultant told me his diagnosis was wrong. He did have cancer, but a kind that could not only be treated, but also cured.
We launched into 5 years of treatment, 18 months of which he spent in remission. Unfortunately, after a relapse, every time we got near the date for a breakthrough treatment, he went down with sepsis, 3 times - touch and go, but he fought through it. In the end, palliative chemo took over until he could fight no longer.
No-one knows how, but we lived day to day. There were monthly appointments, a drug trial, weekly treatments, weeks as an in-patient at times, but he placed all his hopes in his Team - knowing they would look for any options he could take, with new treatments coming through. Gradually, he withdrew from his main hobby and embarked on his second choice, continuing looking forward and making plans.
Covid was awful, literally time he would never get back.
Eventually we did come to the end of the road. DH thanked his Team and told everyone he’d had a good life although devastated he wouldn’t see DD2’s baby born. He’d managed to retire at 55 and had 10 good years, before the illness, the 5 with it. To this day, I often look back and wonder how we dealt with it all - the DDs were devastated but helped, as did their DH’s and gradually, weeks turned into months and we just tried to live our lives to the best we could, without going too far or doing anything stupid. MacMillan were worse than useless, but Marie Curie and the District Nursing Team amazing. The GP got me carers towards the end, who were invaluable.
People look at me and think how well I coped and still do, but it’s often a front and I miss him more than I thought possible.

I do hope you can share your ‘journey’ here and as I did (along with many others) take comfort and help from wherever it’s offered.
My best wishes. X

Hithere Tue 15-Aug-23 16:42:03


You dealt with it because you are strong and had no other choice - with lemons you make lemonade

It is amazing what we get used and cope with