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Trying to help my Wife - Should the children be told?

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Trying to help my Wife - Should the children be told?


I find myself in a difficult position, so I thought it would be useful to get the views of people who have been in a similar situation myself and my Wife are currently facing.


In summary, my Wife was diagnosed with cervical cancer 12 years ago, she had a successful hysterectomy but the cancer returned about a year later. She had chemotherapy and radiotherapy and again it looked like it had been successful, but unfortunately it returned within 12 months and the only option was a pelvic exenteration, and she had a urostomy and a colostomy. Since she had this done about 10 years ago she has been cancer free and she is classed as “cured” despite a number of scares along the way. I’m a very lucky man to still have my wife, as the consultant told me she had a 20% chance of surviving for 5 years. Some would say she is one of the lucky ones when you see the tragic events where people don’t live to see their children grow up. This is where the problem arises and I would love to hear the views of others to help me deal with things.


My Wife doesn’t see herself as lucky, she sees herself as the unlucky one, yes she’s alive but because of the exenteration operation she thinks her life is finished. She worries constantly about her bags, but in 10 years she has had few major problems, but due to this worrying, she won’t do many day to day things and she finds being in public places and on public transport very stressful. She has gradually got more and more depressed and despite being prescribed medication and counselling suggested she hasn’t done anything. I feel guilty in saying that the last 10 years have been so very difficult for me in dealing with all this. When she was diagnosed and had the subsequent treatments she didn’t want anyone to know apart from her family, I was not allowed to discuss her condition with anyone so had to deal with things myself. We have 2 children who were only young at the time of the diagnosis, they are now adults but have no idea what their Mother has been through.


On a personal level, I feel that I am totally worn out and can’t take much more, I’ve had to cope alone with her condition, I thought I would probably be a single Father in the early days, I just want her to be able to enjoy life, but I can’t see how I am going to change things. She sees herself as a victim and tells me how lucky I am, she says she wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the children, not directly threatening to kill herself but indicating it. Anything I do or say is always wrong. She refuses to have anything to do with me physically and tells me to go and find someone else, I feel totally rejected after trying to do my best for her.


I know the current situation can’t go on, whilst feeling that I am at breaking point, I want to try and do something to help my Wife as she is becoming more and more reclusive. She always said she would tell the children about things when they were adults, but time has passed and nothing has happened despite me broaching the subject. I feel that telling the children would be beneficial to her, perhaps release some of her anger and not have to worry about things all the time in case they find out. I believe they would view her differently and want to support her, surely she would be in a better position with full family support. I want them to know what she went through and how they should be so proud of her. I need to get my Wife some counselling, but persuading her to do this is not going to be easy, I feel that if the children are behind her as well, there is a better chance that she can deal with things.


I am sure that even after so many years and knowing what their Mother has been through, they will have many questions. The point I would welcome your views on, is if my Wife refuses to tell the children, should I tell them so we can support her as a family, it would be a great help to me to be able to share the burden that I have carried for a long time and I’m sure it would ultimately help my Wife.


Any comments or guidance would be gratefully received to help us move forwards.


Thank you in advance.

nm_353's picture

I can’t answer that question for you. I was honest with my children. But they were 8 and 11, old enough to understand when I was doing treatments. That said, PTSD after cancer diagnosis and treatment is a real thing. I was diagnosed with it too. I even avoided this website for  nearly a year because it was triggering for me. The emotional turmoil it causes can be a lot of damage. I think it’s up to each individual on how they deal. I really hope she can one day view herself as a survivor. I can’t wait until I can say 10 years ago.  She did it! The issue is, in our brains we are just waiting for it to come back. She’s frozen and unable to move on from that. It’s very challenging!

June 2016- pap, not up to date, results abnormal

Julyy 5th-  After followups diagnosed with Adenocarcinoma

July 12th 2016- Met with oncologist, clinically staged at 1b2, staging confirmed with MRI and PET. Tumor is endocervical and approx 7 cm.

August 2016- Started chemorads. Post followup after treatment, NED

Sept 2018- Still NED

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Moving forward from a cancer dignosis