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Relationships and the give and take that is part of the process of being in a relationship are present in our everyday lives.
As I reflect on what's written by so many of you, this seems to be a key component to thriving as a survivor. Your personal quality of life is directly affected by the quality of your relationships with others.
This includes your family, your partner or spouse, your work colleagues, your friends, and also your health care team. This connection of one to another is how each day moves forward.
A few of the key components to a relationship are communication, trust, flexibility, honesty and time. If you're not getting what you need from a relationship, it might be time to act on it. Here are some ideas for getting the most from your relationships:
Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.
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Join the discussion at #livingwithcancer.
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This is my first time posting a comment about my health, not very comfortable but here goes: 10 years ago, I was diagnosed with CLL. I told my husband of 28 years that I was worried about the future. He decided to work on a project 1000 miles away and said he would "be back"....well, gee....now the kids are in college and moving away and this is what I faced. So, in spite of it all, I decided to workout every chance I had and become as physically fit as possible. I loved working out, it was good for my mind. Then, my husband continued for the next five years to be away from me in another state. He always said "don't worry, I;ll be back it's just work. Even though I insisted he find another way to work. He didn't until our first grandchild was born. 2 years later I needed an Aortic Valve Replacement due to a genetic heart defect...yeah, and be this time my husband and I separated two years prior to this surgery. He cam back to "help" saving face with the family. It took me 1 year to recover from the surgery. Now two and a half years after this major surgery my CLL is now affecting my immune system. I need weekly infusions of IGg. Husband is back but still working 2 hours away. I'm so alone and my friends have abandoned me. My only solice is seeing my granddaughters 2 times a week. My son moved to Germany and has two children I rarely see unless I can fly to Berlin. Help! I am so tired of this situation. I pray everyday that this wi
I too have multiple myeloma. I believe that you caring for your husband was to help you cope with what is happening to your own body. I helped care for my father 3 years before I was diagnosed. When I had to step into the same clinic where he was treated I wasn't sure how to feel. But, I soon found comfort in going through some of what he experienced. Your husband, just as my father, are helping us in our cancer battles. And, I too find great strength in knowing God. He puts blessings in my path everyday. Cancer has taught me many beautiful things. And, my relationship with my husband and family have become stronger and more meaningful. I even treat strangers with more consideration. My life may be shorter than expected but I will trade quality for quantity. I like to tell other cancer patients to try not to waste today by worrying about tomorrow. And, the quote I have up on my fridge is; "Life is too short to take it too seriously". Make a point to laugh every single day. All my best to you Maria.
Althoigh this blog is old, I find the comments timely and unversal! I was a caregiver for my husband for 20 years--through 7 surgeries. The last two were for colon cancer and prostate cancer. He was an excellent patient and he was patient. However, it was hard, but I loved him. I stayed by him as I knew he would me. He was also a post-polio survivor and the most interesting man I had ever met. He's been gone for 6 years and we wstill miss him. Now I have multiple myeloma--a seemingly cruel joke. I have lived 3 years and look forward to more years in spite of maintenance monthly treatments. I travel am beginning find outlets in my retirement years. I am blessed with friends. Unfortunately, my family is far away, but we remain supportive of one another. I see this cancer as a journey and not cruel. My life may be used to help advance the science and lead to a cure. All things are possible through God and His Son, Jesus Christ who strengthens me. Be blessed.
Your articles are very helpful. I have just finished treatment, chemo and radiation, and I am just waiting to start to feel better. AFter almost two weeks, still waiting. I am very tired and can't do much without being wiped out. It is amazing how you feel so lost after treatment. I thought, What do I do now? I have just been living from treatment to treatment. It is taking longer than expected to get my strength back. I have plans to move on and try to get my life back after treatment but I have to feel better first. I am very thankful for my family and all my friends who have helped me get to treatments, brought food, gotten groceries, and just send letters of encouragment. They sure helped me through it all. I made a list of all who offered help and then called and set up a schedule for weekly radiation treatments. It sure made it a lot easier and less stressful getting to appointments, plus I enjoyed the company of my firiends. Now I guess I miss that connection. Have plans to have a party when I feel better.
I had a rare cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma, nose & nasal cavity. I was a stage IV. Yes I agree if you have a supportive spouse it helps tremendously. But a close, daily communication with the lord & support of others works wonders. I had to be my own encouragement also, that is very important to think positive. Daily I looked into the mirror & said....I can, I will & I am gonna make it. Thats what it takes folks.
Relationships the big if in cancer, friends abandon, some of us are widows/widowers, my family of origin has made my illness a topic to suppress. My significant other fled. We are often left with casual relationships only. Tough home alone with cancer and the presumption we have the health and energy to start anew.
There is wisdom in all you have written. I am now over one-year cancer-free having fought off a rare recurring melanoma. The love and steadfast support of family and dear friends have been, and continue to be, a source of comfort and strength. Some of what has worked for me: I had to learn to ask for and accept help; when God sends you an angel, just say "YES, thank you, that would be so nice." and continue to say thank you. Appreciate every healing hand that administers treatment,greeting caregivers,nurses,and everyone you can by name. Visualization and meditation daily also help. On my frig is a quote from an AARP magazine : "Attitude is a choice made daily" and, as Winston Churchill said, "When you're going through hell, keep going."
I had stage 111c colon ca. My wife could not cope with that. Since my original dx I have had several life threatening health problems. Ultimately my wife could not handle my constant illness and left me for another man. Now I live,work and play alone. I don't find anything in religion I rely on self belief. I have nearly reached year 14 of survival and am suffering long term side effects of chemo. I am 61 and still work tho it is getting harder to get by with some of the auto-immune problems I have. I have two grown up children that I rarely see. In hindsight I can't blame my wife or children for not wanting to be around. Cancer is not just inflicted on the sufferer but the entire family.
Hello, it is interesting to read all your comments about self, spouse/caregivers who may be in denial and perhaps scared themselves of the stigma of having cancer(old views). I have been blessed to have wonderful caring family including my husband. I was diagnosed with Cancer of the Gallbladder in October 2010. I was hospitalized for 2 months b/c of complications and recuperated for 4 months because of my large incision due to Necrotizing Faciitis complication. I went through both chemo/radiation therapy just 4 weeks ago. I was told my being alive today is a miracle because of the gravity of the complications. My little nephew who is 3 years old recited this Bible verse to me everytime his mother and him came to see me:"Be brave and be strong because God is with you."- Joshua 1:9. He learned this at Sunday School. It gave me so much consolation and comfort. Indeed God is with me and with all of you regardless if you believe in God or not. Because there is nothing we can do without the Spirit of God in us. I am at peace with my diagnosis and treatments. At the end of this month I will have another Pet Scan/CT Scan to see if the cancer has reduced in size or what not. I am in a 6 weeks break from treatment. I feel well and very much at peace. God is in control of my life. He has "began work" in me way back in October/November 2010. And I firmly believe that He "will see His work to completion in His Son, Jesus." May the good Lord Jesus generously b
I am finding it very challenging to continue supporting a person who cannot or will not say thank you, nice dinner or I know you are tired from driving 65 miles to work and back and taking care of everything else in our lives. My mantra is "He is sick". However, in reality he has always been somewhat ungrateful, so I suppose that I shouldn't be surprised. It seemed that he was much more pleasant when he was very sick with sepsis, now that he is getting a transplant the worm has turned.
Don't get me wrong I love my husband and have always been the person who shoulders the most responsibility in this relationship, so that is not new, but the constant questioning and criticism is very wearing.
As I read the comments that have been posted I feel both sad and happy. Sad for the women whose husbands or significant others treat them so terribly while having to deal with this disease and everything involved and happy for those who know God is ultimately in control. I am one of the blessed ones who has a supportive husband during my double lymphoma stage 4 experience of hell. I am 2 months clean and learning to enjoy each day God gives me. But it absolutely breaks my heart for those who don't have support. I pray for each of you and will continue too. It is scarey enough never knowing if it will come back or when but it is even more scarey if you don't have faith in God to give it to. I was suppose to not have survived as I have many other health problems with this that are terminal as well but He healed me because I put my faith in Him. I pray this will speak to someone and know my prayers are with you all.
I hope each of us will do what meets our needs and personal situations. For some, that will mean ending a difficult relationship; for others, it will require amending a relationship. I hope I do not judge individual choices. With a bit of time, we can be surer that we are making the decision that is right for us. Some people need a cancer survivors' support group. I prefer to focus on other things and activities. I am a natural introvert. I just wish that each of us can find a niche, this blog, for instance, where we will feel cared for and heard. Thanks Sheryl.
Judith and Kathleen,
I agree with Kathleen, and Judith, please forgive me again for my strong words. This disease is so cruel. The fact is that I was trying to convince myself of the power of positive thinking, that I would not die but will remain chronically ill, like people with heart conditions. And it is so difficult to comfort family members of your potentially imminent death when you're struggling to remain optimistic. In retrospect, I think I left my husband of 25 years mostly because his reaction to my cancer was so different than mine, because I could not stand the fact that his feelings were more important than my existential struggle and because I didn't have the strength to fight for for my well being and giving him the comfort he needed at the same time. I was very happy all these 25 years, but I felt I would not anymore. So, as egoistic as I have become, I decided that I did not want him to accompany me anymore, that I'll take care of myself alone, and will die alone like injured animals who leave their pack to nurse their wounds in peace. I might be in denial, but so far denial has helped me survive! Judith, Kathleen has good points, take your time, perhaps a vacation, to think things through, and listen to your heart, maybe this is just a crisis in your couple that you might be able to overcome with the help of a counselor, friends and prayers.
Continue writing, it does us good! Peace n'Love to you all!
Judith, I have been thinking about you, and while Helen has a good point, I also believe you may have to give things a bit of time to play out. While my own husband was not as brutal, his first thought on my diagnosis, just over four years ago, was to ask himself if I died, would he sell the house and move closer to his office. I pointed out that our children were still young enough to need a home, one was in high school. I was hurt that I wasn't foremost. However, as a dear friend said, just from watching him, "I hope you don't mind me saying this, but your husband is in denial." He needed his defenses against his own fears. Time has changed everything. In fact, he has become more aware of my needs. I have become more demanding. I do not always put myself second.
My first thoughts on diagnosis were about my family, as our children were still teens and early twenties. I lost my mom to cancer when I was twenty-one. Yet I also resented having to think about others, when I was so needy and frightened. With time, we have achieved a new balance. My family is showing greater respect and caring, and I am letting go more.I found the stength to let go of a longstanding "frenemy,"but I have also found other friends in my community and as a volunteer, many of whom do not know that I am a cancer survivor.
I hope everyone can find whatever comfort available. Sometimes that comfort comes in being available to others. Best wishes to all.
Thanks for your kind words -- your post meant more to me than you ever can imagine. I'm trying my best to get better -- both in body and in spirit so that I can move on with my life. thank you again for caring about a stranger in desperate need of a kind word.
ENDOMETERIAL CANCER - STAGE IVB; HIGH GRADE: I had a complete hysterecomy on St. Patrick's Day. Three Weeks later my CA was 71. Before I had my chemo#3 out of #6 last week my CA was 19! It is hard but I am asking Jesus to make Himself bigger and stay focused on Him. A friend recommended the book: "Power Healing" by John Wimber. As far as my friendships I am trying to let my friends call me as I do not want to burn them out with my fears, etc. Peggy P.S. Sure appreciate the postings as it helps me see I am normal with the fear of dying, etc.
I was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer in 2007 and was given 6 moths to live. And now in 2011 am doing okay. Am 82 years old. Have some issues but not complaining. Had a whipple at Mayo Clinic and am very happy with the wonderful job they did. Thanks loads.
To everyone, I'm just the mom, but I am so honored to be a part of this. To all of you who have jerks for family, I am so sorry. Please know that my thoughts are with you for your strength and health. There are good days and bad and you'll find out who truly matters. Dan Fogelburg had a song called "Part of the plan" that says, "love when you can, cry when you have to, be who you must its part of the plan, await your arrival with simple survival and one day we'll all understand...". You can do this because you must. It's here and no one gets out of life alive. Think your thoughts and do what needs to be done because most people don't. People are now spoiled and stupid, you aren't. You'll just see how unaware most people are.
Replying to Judith,
Please forgive me for being blunt. I know that feeling and I know how much it hurts. But you are already suffering so much. You don't need such a husband. You'll be better off alone. He is the looser and he is the one who has already lost you. May you find peace and love amongst other sincere people.
There are many truths in what you wrote. I was diagnosed w/ breast cancer in 2005 and it looks like I may have a recurrence now, but still waiting for the final diagnosis. I can't hide that I hate it and hate talking about it even more. Relationships do matter a lot. While I believed I had a supporting husband, I ended up being the one comforting him! He had already buried me in his head It took me 5 years to realize that and I finally divorced 3 months ago and he still does not have a clue! I now live alone and enjoy my new freedom. I am also staying away from friends who have relatives who died of cancer. It's a very strange feeling. I never felt guilty about staying alive, being fully aware that it would happen one day, but somehow I felt that these friends were resentful of my temporary luck! Oh, well! I decided to stop my successful career and retire "early" even though it meant a serious cut in income. I am determined to live my life and what's left of it to its fullest. Being an atheist, I can't find comfort in god, but in friends who are generous with themselves and in art! I have also decided to never compromise again, and enjoy being egoistic and doing whatever I please that I can afford. Peace to you all
Hi everyone. Happy memorial day weekend. I am still here with this stage IV metastatic breast cancer. Sitting on the very pelvis that was fractured last year - being supported by the very spine that was radiated 15 times in 2010, walking on the legs that didn't work last year! Happy to be here and happy to be spending time this summer with old friends from my child rearing days, my first marriage days. I'm seeing girlfriends and family that were so important in our growth and development years, coming of age years. Just to look each other in the eye(s) and realize how much stuff we have all been through, and hopefully how much stuff still to come. Though I've been in that black hole of depression several times, this summer I will try to spend as much time as possible with all the positive people in my life. No negativity allowed past my carefully constructed wall of faith. We all have so much to learn from one another. Thanks for letting me chat - enjoy your summer.
I have a big question for anyone on this post. I have just gone through a radical hysterectomy and 17 lymph nodes being removed for uterine cancer. Trying to feel good about myself and be positive, but my husband informed me "that I was such a 'Loser' for having cancer, and that he was too old to find someone else to marry at his age if I died." Trust me, this was a huge hit in the gut. I am devastated and trying to keep my faith in God as my strength to get through this. Thanks for listening.
This will be my first and last post because I was a caregiver for my husband of 40 years. He had bile duct cancer. He was so positive through his 5 chemo treatments. One thing that I believe helped him was that he wrote every med and food/water on a chart every day. He also did crosswords and watched his favorite shows and took a book to read to appointments. He used to tell me that he had 8 hrs. to work (when he was working), 8 hrs. to sleep, and 8 hrs. to do everything else. He always tried to get me to write a "to do" list and schedule my time, but I resisted being micromanaged. However now I see wisdom in his ideas and see that he truly valued life and the time he had been given. I am now trying to live more like that--valuing my friends and each day as a gift. At one time we thought well, if we wake up, it's a good day. Then I thought because of our faith in what Jesus did, if I don't wake up, I'll be in heaven--so it will be the best day. I know to some that sounds strange. I pray that you will trust God and thank Him that this can make a difference in your thoughts. I will pray that you all will stay in remission. May God richly bless you, your families, your friends and co-workers and everyone that your life touches. You matter to God. God loves you.
I JUST CELEBRATED MY 2ND ANNIVERSARY OF ESOPHEGEAL CANCER. COMPLETE REMOVAL.TRUST IN THE LORD. GOD BLESS ALL OF YOU AND KEEP MOVING FORWARD.
GOD BLESS each and everyone of you. In 2008 I was diagnosed with three form of cancer. Three percent of the people in the world have the one form. They said I had about 6 mos. to live since there was no cure for it. I laughed and told my oncologist GOD gave him the knowledge, be God was still in control of my life. That was About Three and a half yrs. ago. In Feb. of this yr. they found lung cancer. I have elected each time not to have any treatment. I just leave each day up to God
and let him take care of everything. My choice is for me, Your choice is yours. You all will be in my daily prayers. I'm glad this happened to me instead of my husband, children,grandchildren or my great grand children. I'm 70 yrs old and have had a wonderful life, and planning on being around for the next 20 years. GOD BLESS each and everyone of you and your families who have this terrible disease. Maybe one of these days, they will find the cure.
Cancer is a piece of life we would never pick for ourselves, our family or wish on our worst enemies.
Resentment & abandonment of self and others are big issues for the cancer survivor and their friends & family. 'Victims' need to be offered forgiveness and then let God do the healing in his time and way are skills worth learning.
We have friends who can not deal honestly with our situation offering to divide and conquer by removing the caregiver's unconditional loving service from the patient. We are working to remember to pray for them daily.
Stick with the winners--those who are capable of encouraging,loving and supporting you. God does heal our minds as we trust in him.
I am a survivor of ano-rectal cancer, and I have a colostomy, but it really makes no difference to my life, except that I manage the colostomy by irrigation, and my means of defaecation is via a plastic sleeve into the toilet every three days. I had heard that 20% of people with colostomies consider that their lives have effectively come to and end; my response was to be one of the founding trustees of the Colostomy Association, to help colostomates. I am now Consultant to the Association, and I write and maintain two websites, www.stomadata.com and www.stoma.fr (bilingual English/French) to help others. I often forget completely that I have a colostomy, so unimportant is it in my life. When I met a friend who was very depressed after a radical mastectomy, and had numerous problems, she asked me for advice, and I simply said "Start a support group, to help others." Two months later the support group was thriving, and so was my friend. So to any cancer survivor my advice would be "Join a support group if there is one near you, and start a support group if there isn't".
Yes it`s hasrd this waiting room,it has been 29 months for me,and my family thinks i should forget and go on.Some days i can foget for awhile,other days not so easy.
I totally agree with Debbie. Until you walk in these shoes, you have no idea of all the mixed feelings that are involved. My life is a roller coaster ride! Cancer is such an ugy thing and it can get anyone of us at any time.
Wow,Rita,we are in the same place.My family wants me to be a strong little cancer survivor and just move on.Hard to do when dealing with cancer hanging over your head...and all the financial,social,emotional stuff atached to it.
I agree with Pam. Relationships are complicated even when someone has not had a lifethreatening illness. The patient after all the treatment moves on and maybe even looks and feels pretty good, but the haunting reality of the disease recurring or late side effects cropping up is always there in the back of the mind. And until you have walked in our shoes, you will never know what we deal with every day for the rest of our lives. A very hard thing to swallow especially when you were relatively a healthy, vibrant, person before the disease.
After getting past the "I'm going to die." stage and two rounds of chemo, I realize how very important life is and I try to be as positive as possible around those I love. There are few scars on the outside but internally I'm a better person - mind and soul.
I think cancer is more often suffered alone than in a big hugging group of pink-covered friends and relatives. After all, that's not how our normal lives go. At first it's got an almost fun vibe to it because so many doctors and nurses are involved. But there comes the time when we are left with our thoughts and that's a lonely place to be. Oversimplified concepts such as the ones listed in this article can be depressing because they're impossible to accomplish. The real healing happens when you realize that you're okay with today - yesterday was what it was - and that you can't possibly know what lies in store for you. God bless us all.
Hay there Rita, Yeah know what you mean about the family thing-O !!!! Am in the same situation re: Genetics pass on, feel my double mastectomy and left axillary clearance, plus long Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy, and now targeted therapy, is doing my head in Psychologically ! When there is selfish sibling support & they demand attention before your health, then I am now telling them to F*** off !!! Wow, if they could be me for one day things would be different !!! Take care to you ...
hello to you all, well I can not begin to describe how much I appreciate the support The Mayo Clinic has given, for me almost as a primary support for those whom have little, as with going on-line with the need !!! Thank-You again xo
sorry, can't put my real name- my "family" doesn't even know about my cancer, found & treated in 2006- estranged from them, but find comfort in my animal companions- if you can, volunteer with an animal rescue or shelter- the unconditional love is lifesaving.
I've enjoyed your posts in the past. This is my one obstacle, tho. I'm mid-60 widowed with no children. I have siblings (and their families) and some very close friends but I still feel that I have to handle this alone. It's been a year and a half since my stage 3 single-masectomy. My relationships tell me that I'll be OK and it's time to get on with my life. "We've all got our problems." I rely on my prayer life and meditation and favorite songs (especially Jazz) and working in the garden. It's so good to read the comments in your posts. Keep it up.
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