Our Special Person
I don’t think that anyone who hasn’t had cancer would truly understand the impact that a cancer diagnosis has on a person. And I’m absolutely convinced that they wouldn’t truly understand the impact that a prostate cancer diagnosis has on the partner of a man.
Telling my wife
When I received my stage 4 diagnosis by telephone, due to circumstances, I was away from home and the 15-minute drive home was horrendous. There’s no easy way to tell your wife of 37 years that you’ve been told that you’ve got cancer and aren’t going to be alive to share the “golden” years of retirement with her.
I totally completely botched it up as well. Such was my horrendous emotional state that the first thing I said to her was that we should split up so that she could find someone who could look after her properly, as I wouldn’t be able to fulfill that part of the marriage contract any more. I pushed her away because that was easier for me to cope, but it was also selfish and thoughtless.
My wife has been an absolute rock since my diagnosis, but I know that it’s not been easy for her. She copes to a degree by using denial, but she’s always realistic. I know that she suffers like crazy when my 12 weekly PSA blood tests come around that will eventually tell me that my treatment has stopped working. Phoning her after seeing my oncologist to get results of those tests has not been problematic as yet, but I can still sense the relief when I tell her the good news.
It impacts her, too
As readers will know, a stage 4 diagnosis can result in treatment that includes chemical castration, and the impact of that on me was horrendous. Being emasculated as a man and also as an athlete at the age of 60 was really difficult to cope with both emotionally and physically, but there was also a massive impact on my wife.
I know that she’d say that she prefers to have me here, sharing our lives with our children and grandchildren, and me be impotent than the alternative, but I know it must impact on her negatively as well. Despite what youngsters might think, we weren’t ready to give up our sex life at 60!
Then there are the practical things. I’d worked really hard all my life to build a future where we could enjoy our years in retirement, travel, have fun, look after our children, and spoil our grandchildren. However, a stage 4 diagnosis has a significant impact when you get a worst-case prognosis of 2 years. There was no way that I wanted to be working 60-70 hours per week in a stressful job and deal with cancer as well. The reality is that I actually couldn’t have done both even if I’d been inclined to!
Getting in the way of our relationship
Exiting my business interests when the value was very low wasn’t great financially, but it was definitely right for us. But there is a knock on impact in that our financial position is finite and what we have now will have to last my wife’s lifetime when I’m gone. And maybe that’s why I’ve let my illness get in the way of our relationship.
Sometimes I’ve blamed her for things that were entirely down to me. I realized that I had been pushing her away, avoiding intimacy because it was easier for me to do so. It definitely wasn’t easier for her though!
That realization that I was getting things wrong led to lots of soul searching. The reality is that I can’t love her, physically, in the way that I want to, and I wasn’t loving her, in other ways, as I should be doing. But I realized that I still love her more than anything I’d loved in my life, and I still desire her hugely.
I think we’re going to be just fine!
How familiar are you with inherited gene mutations and cancer?