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Topic: When Frustration Leads to Violence

Forum: Caring for Someone with Breast cancer —

A place to share your struggles and concerns about supporting and caring for a person you love diagnosed with breast cancer with others who understand.

Posted on: Jan 29, 2017 09:58AM

RZT wrote:

After a years-long run of Tamoxifen and side effects my wife recently spent an entire weekend slapping, punching and kicking me before her oncologist visit. No bruises, no welts… but it is escalating, and it is coming with threats… against herself as well as me. She feels that I caused her breast cancer, so when tensions pile up one on another leading up to a "doctor day" it seems there's really just one outlet for it all. She's hurting on every level, and it's my job to at least provide comfort, but it feels impossible to earn enough trust to provide effective support.

First, I should ask if anyone knows of marriage counselors who specialize in strained relationships where one person is bearing the strain of a nightmare diagnosis like breast cancer? I haven't been able to find any agreement with my wife in seeing a third party;the latest response was "We don't need help, you need to be nicer to me.F@cking loser.I wouldn't have to hit you if you weren't such a stupid f@cking loser." But honestly, if there's somebody with professional experience in cancer-strained relationships,maybe I can quietly reach out to them myself at first to bring better support into this marriage.

Full disclosure: I'm not perfect.I don't hit, I don't cheat… but I don't get it right when my wife needs me most, either. Her body has been through sheer hell, stress has burned her out and I'm desperate to keep that frustration with the whole world from becoming permanent… is this how it all goes after a spouse gets diagnosed, or is there any way at all to build some trust at least if not peace?

Roland

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Jan 29, 2017 10:26AM pupmom wrote:

Does your wife have a history of diagnosed psychosis?

Life is what happens while we're making other plans. Dx 10/18/2011, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 1, 2/21 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 29, 2017 10:27AM ElaineTherese wrote:

Roland, I am so sorry. I am sorry that your wife is suffering and that she is taking it out on you. I don't know much about counseling for your situation, but I just want to say that you don't deserve to be treated that way. Slapping, punching, and kicking are not warranted, no matter how much you feel like you haven't adequately supported your wife.

I would definitely seek counseling for yourself so that you can find a way of responding to your wife's behavior without exacerbating it. You may not be able to change your wife right now, but you can change how you respond to her behavior. It may require walking away from her when she gets physically and emotionally abusive. Please find some help for yourself; you may need to feel better about yourself before you can be of help to your wife. Best wishes and ((Hugs))

DX IDC June 28, 2014, 5 cm., 1 node tested positive (fine needle biopsy); 0/20 after neoadjuvant chemo + ALND; Grade 3; ER+ PR+ HER2+ Neoadjuvant chemotherapy starting 7/23/14 ACX 4, Taxol X 12, Perjeta X 4; Herceptin: one year Chemotherapy 7/23/2014 AC Targeted Therapy 9/17/2014 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Targeted Therapy 9/17/2014 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Chemotherapy 9/17/2014 Taxol (paclitaxel) Surgery 1/12/2015 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Underarm/Axillary Hormonal Therapy 2/25/2015 Aromasin (exemestane), Zoladex (goserelin) Radiation Therapy 3/9/2015 Breast, Lymph nodes
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Jan 30, 2017 10:12AM RZT wrote:

Dear Yorkiemom,

No, no such diagnosis. I wish she would get counseling (either with or without me present; it would be entirely her call), but (in my totally amateur opinion) the counselor would more likely find that our marriage is based on considerable differences (we grew up in different countries, with different native languages, different definitions of family... and full disclosure I keep trying to be the "peacemaker" when she most needs an advocate fighting for her). She worked so hard to accomplish her personal goals under those conditions, and then wound up getting her diagnosis only a year later... it seems obvious why she would be so frustrated and angry.

She wants to avoid stress in order to keep her health, and yet my sheer presence is raising her stress. I was hoping that a counselor would help me present myself as more of a help, a value in her life than as someone whose very presence is toxic to her well-being.

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Jan 30, 2017 10:34AM pupmom wrote:

I'm sorry for your family's pain. We are here for you. Hug

Life is what happens while we're making other plans. Dx 10/18/2011, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 1, 2/21 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 30, 2017 10:58AM Beatmon wrote:

Wow! Roland. That sounds simply horrible. Did she have any of these violent outbursts prior to diagnosis? Can you call her Physcian and have a confidential discussion? Wonder if she needs her brain looked at if this is a totally different behavior. Counseling for sure for you if she won't go. Best of luck

Dx 7/27/2012, IDC, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Surgery 8/9/2012 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right Surgery 12/1/2013 Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Surgery 7/1/2014 Reconstruction (left); Reconstruction (right) Dx 8/9/2014, IDC, Both breasts, Stage IV, metastasized to lungs, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Targeted Therapy 8/27/2014 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Targeted Therapy 8/27/2014 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Chemotherapy 8/27/2014 Taxotere (docetaxel)
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Jan 30, 2017 11:12AM Spookiesmom wrote:

Can you contact a battered woman's shelter? Battering of men happens too, though not as much or well publicized. Maybe they can direct you to help.

Reoccurrence 3-19. Dx IDC, Stage IIIA, Grade 3
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Jan 30, 2017 05:48PM - edited Jan 30, 2017 05:50PM by lisabekind


I'm curious, why does she not trust you? Has she felt that you don't have her back? The best thing to do is be present. Ask her if she needs anything done, like things around the house. Does she have to ask, or do you just lend a helping hand.

She is living in fear, I am too, but fear can eat us alive.

Before she was diagnosed was your relationship good. Were you steering the ship, being the man of the house? She needs someone to lean on now. Be that person. If things in the past have harbored resentment. It might be a good idea to revisit them and speak from the heart, with humility and grace, with a splash of empathy.

I am assuming what may be going on, assuming.

Dx 12/23/2016, DCIS/IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 3/13 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 1/26/2017 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right Chemotherapy 3/1/2017 AC + T (Taxol)
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Feb 3, 2017 08:30PM RZT wrote:

Regarding the question about violating her trust, I've been doing some soul-searching.

The short answer is yes.It wasn't any of the "usual" stupid things which guys are known for which broke my wife's heart.I don't cheat, I don't hit.But what I have done caused a great deal of hurt nonetheless.

I was trying to be everybody's peacemaker and I gave my wife the impression that I was never fighting for her… like I was prioritizing everybody else.With relatives, with friends, with the job… it's true that I try to accommodate.More often than not I'll try to "go along to get along" or to "fix" things.This was my way before breast cancer, and even though I know it's wrong I'm still trying to fix everything when I need to show that I'm fighting only for her. Before BC, I had always tried to "be there" but sometimes blew the attempt (doing chores, but poorly; trying to lighten the mood with humor, but instead causing offense like I was trying to make fun of her). And now, these things carry even bigger hurt.

The other major mistake has been keeping things from her when I think 'wow this can't be a good time' to discuss something, or worse… when I just don't think it's important when it's vital to her.These mistakes weren't good before BC, but now… they're really bad mistakes.

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Feb 3, 2017 11:47PM RZT wrote:

And by the way, please know how grateful I am for your responses. This is all helping me better understand some next steps just to navigate all this, which can only help me and then hopefully my wife as well.

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Feb 4, 2017 03:40AM Traveltext wrote:

I don't think your wife's behaviour is normal unless there's an underlying psychological issue. Sure, bc is tough on the patient, but when a patient turns on the care giver that's a bad sign. You, and all those caring for sick people, need as much support as possible, and you also need respect and encouragement. I hope the situation improves for you


NED breast and prostate cancer. More on Male BC

Dx 03/14, IBC, Lgth. 2cm, Stge IIIB, Gde 2B, ER+/PR+, HER2- ; FEC x3, Taxol x3; Mx & 2/23 nodes; Rads x 33; now on tamoxofin.

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Feb 4, 2017 11:04AM - edited Feb 4, 2017 11:09AM by Jackster51

Roland, I'm sorry you and your wife are going through this. You sound like a wonderful caring husband to me. I will tell you that Tamoxifen made me this exact way as well. I had been estrogen dominant my entire life, so the sudden over night shut down of estrogen between chemo and Tamoxifen landed me in a mental state that sounds like your wife's. It was the darkest scariest time I have ever endured. To save my own life, I had to discontinue Tamoxifen, and my psychiatrist put me on a low - 2mg - estrogen pill. With the OK of my Onc. Along with 90 mg of Cymbalta. It's risky and I'm not advocating for it, but I would not have survived much longer. Some women do not tolerate low/no estrogen. There is a book called Menopause and Madness you might check out and see if anything rings true for you and your wife. It did for me. Just another thought as to what might be going on. Oh, and by the way, my boyfriend of 5 years that I was living with at the time kicked me out of the house during this time, as he could no longer deal with the 'new me' as he called it. In hind sight, I cant blame him. I was not easy to be around. I hope you guys can figure it out. ANd thank you for reaching out for help. I hope you find it.

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Feb 4, 2017 06:10PM pajim wrote:

Roland, I can't help with the relationship, but if you are looking for help I would start with the social workers at your wife's cancer center. Most major cancer centers have them. You could talk with them yourself, even if she will not.

They're accustomed to helping people with cancer.

I wish you the very best of luck.

Dx 4/20/2008, IDC, Right, 4cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 2, 1/15 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 2/1/2013, IDC, Stage IV, metastasized to bone, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy 2/27/2013 Femara (letrozole) Hormonal Therapy 4/22/2013 Faslodex (fulvestrant) Targeted Therapy 2/25/2016 Ibrance (palbociclib) Chemotherapy 6/19/2017 Xeloda (capecitabine) Targeted Therapy 8/15/2018 Verzenio Chemotherapy 1/2/2019 Halaven (eribulin) Chemotherapy 12/30/2019 CMF
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Feb 4, 2017 07:52PM cliff wrote:

since the roles are reversed, I can give you my point of view. I am not proud of the way have treated my family. aches pains, worries and such have me like an old bear with a toothache. they have been really supportive through the whole mess.reminding me of appointments, and putting up with me. please remember, people in pain and worry arent acting normal . I love my family and try to tell them so and appologise when I can. but I HATE CANCER.

Dx 3/16/2016, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IV, metastasized to bone, 2/21 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Surgery 4/1/2016 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Feb 5, 2017 10:37PM Kicks wrote:

You haven't said what your Wife's DX, Stage or TX (other than Tamoxifen) or how long it has all been going on - if you give that info (fill out your Profile), it might be easier for us to give thoughts. Length of marriage, family in the house, rough age, changes in financial situation could also all come into play. How long has the changes been going on and did they basically start 'overnight'?

There could be other health issues going on that are a part of the current issues. Perhaps a change in meds or levels would help IF her Drs knew of the changes in personality/aggression. Can you talk to them privately (in person or over the phone) to apprise them of the changes?

This may be totally 'off the top' but could she be using alcohol or 'self medicating' on nonprescribed drugs?

Someone mentioned seeking help/info from a battered woman's shelter - good idea. I recently read something about there probably are as many battered/abused men as there women - men just don't report it as much. You could get some tips on coping and protecting yourself safely. There might actually be support group for men if you live in a bigger town. You can't protect yourself (or her) without help. (And possibly documentation)

PTSD is a possibility - it can show up after any traumatic eexperience - not just battlefield ones. It does take a DR/Counselor with education to 'handle' it.

I really hate to mention this but brain mets might need to be checked for.

Just all the thoughts of possiblities I can think of, Perhaps none will make any sense as to what both of you are dealing with but perhaps might 'trigger' a thought that might help.


Dx 8/7/2009, IBC, Stage IIIC, 19/19 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Chemotherapy 8/25/2009 AC Surgery 10/21/2009 Lymph node removal: Right; Mastectomy: Right Chemotherapy 11/11/2009 Taxol (paclitaxel) Radiation Therapy 2/4/2010 Breast, Lymph nodes

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