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Cancer's effect on relationships

(12 Posts)
shipark Thu 18-Feb-16 09:01:29

I feel so sad, bewildered and useless. My DH is going to have his prostate removed due to cancer. I already have an incurable cancer myself for which I have had numerous operations and which is now in remission but obviously no one can say how long that will last.

The consultant has told my DH that there is a risk of lifelong incontinence and erectile dysfunction. The extent of this will not be known until they have removed the prostate and know how many nerves have been damaged or had to be removed. He also said that although these side effects can be minimal in some patients, things are never going to be as they were before completely. I am finding this very hard to deal with. My DH is excellent at burying things and ignoring them until/if he has to face them. I always need my I's dotted and T's crossed, I NEED answers and have to know where I stand or things go round and round in my brain and drive me crazy (not just with this - it is a personality trait)

We have been married 30 years, both in our mid 50's. I iknow sex isn't everything but it is a glue that keeps a relationship together doesn't it/ I know from previous years when for one reason or another our sex life has waned (such as illness, having children etc) any closeness seemd to go out of the window and only starts to come back when our normal sex life resumes.

If things go badly after the operation I know his way of dealing with it will be to ignore the status quo and distract himself with whatever hobby or interest he is enjoying. He will give me hugs, he will seem on the surface to be the same as ever, but he won't be. I've seen it before - there will be nothing behind his eyes, I will feel like I am pounding on an impenetrative pane of glass screaming let me in.

I can't bear the fear of the loneliness ahead. This isn't something I can share with my grown up children, I have no supportive family (my mother acts as though we both have nothing worse than a cold all the while expecting me to support and sympathise with siblings who have minor health issues, which obviously in her eyes are far more worrying that both, both, BOTH of us having cancer, so both living with it and watching our spouse go through it at the same time).

I don;t know what I';m asking really by typing this. I just needed to tell soeone just how shit it is to feel so scared and be so alone. But I have no one to tell

Chimpfield Thu 18-Feb-16 12:25:50

I'm so sorry you are having to deal with this, I've no experience of effects on a relationship due to cancer, but I couldn't read and run - could you try Macmillian?
Sending a big hug x

Momamum Thu 18-Feb-16 13:36:56

Shit! I wrote to you and lost it when I tried to post...

My oldest male friend had his prostate removed cos of c. A few years ago. Your oh's consultant gave him the bottom line prognosis - my friend wore, his words, 'nappies' for a while, but not now. I don't know about his sex life, tho...shock if you want I could ask? But, as it's all individual and I've no idea what it was before, can't really see the relevance. However, the offers there...

Me, tho, I had a bi-Lat mastectomy some years ago, followed by a hysterectomy, and you know the best thing ever my dh said during all this? It's stayed with me...."I don't care if they chop them off and sew up the's you I love and you I want to be with.." (Hearts and flowers emoticon) .

Momamum Thu 18-Feb-16 14:59:51

Sorry, 'can't see the relevance'. Came out all wrong...meant it wasn't relevant to our chats, but I'll certainly ask him how it is for him now wink , no probs. Sorry.

Dh got a terminal illness after I had the c.lot, he's now dead, but for years with both of us crocked in one way or another, the song 'love you just the way you are' by Billy's Joel was playing a lot. Resonated with me at that time, in fact I played it this morning..

I really hope that you can come through this. It certainly won't be the same but fingers crossed that there's something there to hold on to and build upon.


passmethegunandaskmeagain Thu 18-Feb-16 20:09:51

I'm sorry to hear about your situation.
My father has prostate cancer, metastatic so removal was never an option. May I suggest you phone the Prostate Cancer UK helpline or use their forum?
You are not alone with these worries and the forum is a friendly place with supportive people.
I've used their helpline myself to talk through dad's treatment options so I could support him as best as possible.
My thoughts are with you.

SleepyForest Thu 18-Feb-16 21:13:53

What has happened to you both is shit. It is frightening and painful. It is terrible that yet another lovely part of your life is being fucked up by cancer. You are well within your rights to scream out loud at the unfairness of it.

You are both going to have to work really hard to keep the intimacy going. It is going to be hard and may be impossible, but what is the alternative? I hope for the best outcome possible for both of you.

I have been to a talk on cancer and sex. They recommended lots of sensual massage and modern sex toys.

Princesspond Thu 18-Feb-16 21:32:50

I second PCUK Website there is good info on there also they have a list of support groups round the country. The support and info the men give each other can be amazing. They have helpline nurses you can ring for advice. If your urology nurse doesn't give you one you can get a surgery support pack from the PCUK website which has useful info on ED and incontinence (and sample products). Unfortunately there is no way of knowing the degree of side effects and some men do get away with very little whilst others are more severely affected. If incontinence is very heavy or continues to be a problem in the weeks after surgery ask your GP or self refer to your local continence nurse specialist.

AugustMoon Thu 18-Feb-16 21:46:26

For reasons of my own i keep an eye on prostate cancer treatments and, well i'm no doctor, but if your DP is young, by whoevers standards, there are places you can go - Harley street - the prostectomy can be performed very efficiently by robotic operation. Like i said, i'm by no means an expert but it sounds like the devastation this operation could cause to your DPs lifestyle warrants a closer look into alternatives.

arsenaltilidie Thu 18-Feb-16 21:49:55

OP I can't help but imagine if your thread had been reversed the responses would have been quite different.
Your DH is going through a difficult time. Stop worrying about sex and just be there for your him.
If his way of tackling such situation is to bury his head in the sand, respect his decision. Afterall there is nothing to achieve by worrying about sex now.
When he is ready to talk or moan about something, as his partner your job is to just be there for him.

AugustMoon Thu 18-Feb-16 21:53:57

I wish you could talk to my mum OP flowers

Kr1stina Thu 18-Feb-16 21:56:39

Arsenal, what a harsh response . A bit of compassion wouldn't go amiss .

OP, please ignore that one rogue poster. I'm sorry for what you are both going through . It's normal to be scared, angry and worried . What is happening to you both isn't fair.

I'm so sorry flowers

Sparkyduchess Thu 18-Feb-16 22:02:40

My DH had a radical prostatectomy a year ago, using the robotic technology. He's been fully continent since very soon after the surgery, but sexual function hasn't yet returned. Mean time for that is ~18 months after surgery.

He's troubled by it but I think it's just a case of giving it time. There are several drug/device options which should help, but it is what it is for now.

I can understand your anxiety and fear, it's a horrible time for him and for you.

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