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Question
Posted by: Nicky | 2011/05/12

my boyfriend has cancer and has withdrawn from me

Hi

My boyfriend and I are in a long distance relationship for the past 8 months. He is 45 and resides in Australia I am 36 and in SA. For the past 8 months we had continuous contact, speaking twice a day and mailing several times a day every day. lat year Dec he developed a tumor which was found to be cancerous. We went to HK on holiday and he was operated on when he returned. During our holiday he had proposed and we were planning our life together. he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and is on chemo and radiation treatment. we decided that I should relocate asap as to assist him. That was 2 months ago. Since then he hardly talks to me. he stopped mailing or calling. He disappears for days at a time, once it was a full 2 weeks before i could get hold of him. He always has some excuse as to why i couldnt contact hm. My concern is that I want to support him in any way possible. could it be that he doesnt really want me to relocate anymore. has the fact that he has to face his own mortality cause him to change his mind about me? or is he just not that into me. If we were planning a life together surely i should be the one he want and needs when he is scared or in pain? Ive asked him and he swears he still feels the same about me. I''m losing my mind because every time he goes missing for days i get anxious and i have no way of finding out if he is ok. how do i help him? does his reluctance to be in contact with me mean that i should give him space and leave him alone? how do i help him? I''ve never been in this kind of situation before. I send many emails a day reminding him of my olove and that i''m praying for him. i try to encourage him and i send him articles re cancer and nutrition and messages of hope from people who are survivors of stage 4 cancer. What do i do? am i smothering him too much.../// is it best to leave him be until he decides he wants me around? or is it just that I''m not who he needs during this period in his life?
Please help? thank you

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Having cancer is never easy, not at any stage. And especially at stage 4, when the possibility of death may haunt one, and the combined symptoms of the cancer and the chemo / treatment can be a heavy burden. Many people become markedly less communicative at this stage. He nay indeed need more emotional space to be alone with his thoughts, but its not practical to guess from a long distance. You might fly to his side to find he does not welcome close company at present. Or that he does. Its not likely that there is "someone else" in an emotional sense, better able to be close to him than you are, but it can be easier to deal with more business-like clinical people than friends, even or especially really close friends.
He may be very aware that it could be unfair to you to ask you to relocate at this stage if he is losing the battle with his illness. The emotional distance may not be because he feels far less about you than you thought - it may be precisely because he DOES care about you.
It might be that you are trying a bit too hard, at a time when his resources to cope with multiple e-mails and articles.
Maybe he is adjusting and becoming prepared to accept his possible end ( always a possibility ) and worries that your way of showing support suggests that you could not face that possibility with him.
Maybe in a face-to-face calm conversation you could get clearer about all this, though with the distances involved, that'd be an expensive undertaking. Maybe you can gently ask him, by e-mail, to clarify what he wants and how you could be most useful, making it clear you will adapt to his wishes.

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3
Our users say:
Posted by: cybershrink | 2011/05/14

Having cancer is never easy, not at any stage. And especially at stage 4, when the possibility of death may haunt one, and the combined symptoms of the cancer and the chemo / treatment can be a heavy burden. Many people become markedly less communicative at this stage. He nay indeed need more emotional space to be alone with his thoughts, but its not practical to guess from a long distance. You might fly to his side to find he does not welcome close company at present. Or that he does. Its not likely that there is "someone else" in an emotional sense, better able to be close to him than you are, but it can be easier to deal with more business-like clinical people than friends, even or especially really close friends.
He may be very aware that it could be unfair to you to ask you to relocate at this stage if he is losing the battle with his illness. The emotional distance may not be because he feels far less about you than you thought - it may be precisely because he DOES care about you.
It might be that you are trying a bit too hard, at a time when his resources to cope with multiple e-mails and articles.
Maybe he is adjusting and becoming prepared to accept his possible end ( always a possibility ) and worries that your way of showing support suggests that you could not face that possibility with him.
Maybe in a face-to-face calm conversation you could get clearer about all this, though with the distances involved, that'd be an expensive undertaking. Maybe you can gently ask him, by e-mail, to clarify what he wants and how you could be most useful, making it clear you will adapt to his wishes.

Reply to cybershrink
Posted by: Maria | 2011/05/13

Perhaps he feels that he cannot expect you to relocate, just to nurse a very sick man who may not survive. He may feel that you are better off without him, rather than moving halfway around the world only to bury him? Have you asked him about this? He may not know how to communicate this to you, so rather avoids the issue.

Reply to Maria
Posted by: Nicky | 2011/05/12

i just want to add that my boyfriend had told me when we met that he has a history of depression and takes anti-depressants. I''ve also had a history with depression so I am very open to the situation and never judged. We are also very mature re depression and know that it is better to go for help than become emotionally drained and unstable. I am just wondering if depression could be playing a part.
thank you

Reply to Nicky

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