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Emotional Backlash - How to Handle?


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Hello. I am wondering if some of you could share your exeriences with me in this area.

My husband was diagnosed December 5 w/extensive stage IV SCLC. He has taken the position [imagine John Wayne getting off his horse]; that he doesn't want to discuss it, nor can I, with anyone~ He believes he will prove the doctors wrong [five to nine months prognosis] and doesn't want well wishes; concerns, letters, cards or phone calls. I made the mistake of telling him that my family [out of love], is so concerned about his welfare and he went ballistic.

The way I deal/handle MY emotions and fears is to talk about them; so to ignore friends and family and not talk about 'it' with them is almost impossible for me to do -- I feel like I'm in "hiding".

Have others experienced this with this disease? Is this a normal reaction to cancer for men or is this my husband's way of walking through his own stages of grief, denial and/or acceptance?? I feel stuck in a closet, and confused.....

Thanks for your feedback~


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While your husband's reaction seems a bit "over the top", the answer to your question is "yes".

I don't know how old your husband is, but it is VERY normal for men over a certain age to have been taught not to show our feelings. Especially fear. We were taught fear equals weakness. It isn't right and it isn't fair to us or our loved ones, but that's what we were taught.

The BIG problem with that is this: Emotions, especially strong emotions, MUST find an expression. So if we are not allowed to show fear it's going to come out masked as some other emotiion, almost always anger since THAT emotion was considered "acceptable".

I don't know how to get around this with your husband. Maybe someone else here has some ideas about that. But I do know this. In NO way will I allow myself to be a target for someone's anger. Period! End of statement! Nor, I believe, should you. In cases where I think the real thing going on is fear I will often let the person know I understand where the anger is coming from, but I will also let them know *I* will not accept that anger being directed at me.

The other thing is that nobody, and I mean NOBODY, tells me who I can and cannot talk to and what I can and cannot talk about. Someone may ASK me not to divulge (sp?) something (and I will usually respect their wishes (to a point)), but they do not TELL me. And I'm completely upfront with people about that, especially those closest to me.

Beth, I don't know your family dynamics, but it seems to me your going to have to, at some point, stand up for what YOU need. That can be done with full respect for the other person. It's a bit tricky depending on who you are dealing with, but it can be done. I think you're making the right start by trying to understand what your husband is going through. But I wouldn't stop there. Once you understand you need to use that understanding to find what you need for yourself so you can be there for your husband ... and yourself.


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Beth, Dean has given you some excellent and wise advice. I would add that you as the caregiver must take care of yourself. That usually means talking with others about the situation, so do so for yourself. You need to stay emotionally healthy, as much as the situation allows. And feel free to vent here as much as you need. Lots of support and understanding here. Don

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In a way I can relate to your husband feelings about not telling people about his illness. I only told my family and close friends and asked them not to tell anyone about it. I am a very private person and I have always kept my business and my families business to myself. The reason I didn't want to tell a lot of people was because I don't want a lot of false sympathy and a lot of questions about my illness. My close friends know how I am and respect my wishes and of course my family does too. I would not get angry if they happened to tell someone about it though.

I am not saying I am right but it is a personal thing and everyone deals with the situation differently. In my case I own my own business and deal with a lot of people in the community and just the thought of all the questions if everyone knew would drive me crazy. As it is when my friends ask how I am I know they are disappointed if I don't have good news for them on how my treatments are going or the latest results from my scans or tests. It is bad enough that I AM disappointed but I know they want to feel good about my situation and when there is no good news it just puts an extra burden on me to try and make them feel better.

I do not think your husband was right though in getting angry at you and I would tell him that.

Bess B

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Your husband is robbing himself of love and real friendship

that are much needed in time of sickness.

He may do what he wants, but he can't force you to stay


Do not let him rob you of what you need the most at this

time, love, family and help, so speak openly about

yourself and the way you feel and just keep the line of

communication open if he change his mind.

It is his sickness, if he wants to fight alone let him be,

that road is very lonely when one fight alone, but it is also

your life and your need is to communicate

and get as much understanding and help as you can.

Good luck and prayers going.



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Ditto all of the above that has been said. Considering though that you have told your family, I guess my only other piece of advise would be to ask them to respect his wishes in not talking to him about what is going on. You though my dear are a different story. I guess I look at cancer as not only is it your hubby that has it, but the whole family unit has it. You all have to deal with it. It impacts your immediate family the most. So talk to those you feel comfortable talking with, but just make sure they know that he is not willing to discuss what is going on.

Keep in touch with us on the board and let us know what we can do for you. You should not have to walk this alone. I don't know anyone that strong. If you need support, here is the place to come.

You have my best wishes and prayers as always.

Take care dear,

Much love,


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I was diagnosed on Christmas Eve and I had the exact same attitude that your husband has for a few days.I had not even seen a cancer doctor yet but was told by a neurosurgeon that I had 30-45 days max to live.I decided to just come home and let it happen.We even called in hospice.I am not really sure what changed my attitude but I did go to a special place in the woods and pray and God told me to fight.My family told me that as well.I dreaded the phone calls,visits and emails that were sure to come when the news got out.I was afraid.What Dean says is so true.We men mask our emotions because we are ashamed to admit fear.My siblings went into immediate action.Scheduling appointments.Calling MD Anderson and doing things that I sometimes did not agree with.I was mad at first at them trying to manage my future.They did it out of pure love and I am so grateful that they did.I did a 180 on attitude.It may not happen with your husband but like everyone else has said.You must take care of you.This site has worked wonders for my whole family.I need more computers so we can all keep up.Now I look forward to the calls,visits and emails.Without them I would be in turmoil.And all my family looks forward to the daily encouragement found here.I just wanted you to know that I felt the same way that he feels in the beginning and took a long time to say it.I didn't intend to write a book.I want you to be at peace too.That means so much to me that my family has somewhere to vent.It really brings me comfort.I hope you keep posting and when he sees what it is doing for you maybe he will come around to a different place too.I hope and pray that he does..Take care of you and all our prayers are with you and yours.TBone

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I agree that what you need now is patience. I think you will find your husband will come around soon. At first it is just too much to take. As Earl says men have different ways of handling this sort of thing too. I find my husband doesn't talk much about his desease , he prefers not to think about it. When he does however, I try to get him to expand on what he has said so that I can find out how he is thinking. I find that if we can talk about it together a lot of the stress is relieved. Otherwize it is just like having , "An elephant in the kitchen"! (That hasn't come out quite right, however I hope you understand what I mean. It's late and I'm not thinking straight :) . )

Positive thoughts and prayers coming to you,


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