My partner finished treatment and has been feeling really down

Hello, I’m new to this whole talking to Cancer research group, I’m after some advice or maybe some of you have been going through similar. My partner had bowel cancer treatment in April and luckily they only removed half of the bowel, he recovered well, which I’m over the moon about as I’ve been struggling with anxiety and panic attacks.

A couple of months after my partner had his treatment he’s settled back into work things are going good but I’m finding his personality and outlook on life is damn right miserable, it also has a rub off effect on me and I suffer with low mood anyway. Everything he does he’s negative, if he’s got a bad cold or cough he blames on severe illness, he had bleeding in his bowel the other day and wouldn’t call a doctor after everything he’s gone through? I’m in a position where I’m sick and tired of even suggesting anything because I feel like no matter what I say it’s the wrong answer and most things come back as “I’ve got cancer I’m allowed to feel depressed or worried etc” he had cancer and they removed it. I feel like I can’t talk to my partner and support him. Sympathy is very difficult it just turns into an argument. Is this normal for someone who’s had cancer and is their any support? Thank you.

  • Hello Kindfluffybear, awww that's a cute username and profile picture you have!

    A warm welcome to our friendly forum. I hope that you will meet others here who have been going through something similar and that they will be along shortly to share their insights with you. I am so sorry to hear about your partner's diagnosis but I am glad he recovered well and he only needed to half half of his bowel removed. Unfortunately it is not uncommon after going through cancer to feel a little bit down or depressed once treatment is over and life gets back to some kind of normality. It's also completely understandable that this is having a negative effect on you and that you are also feeling down as a result. I think you were right to encourage him to see a doctor after he had the bleeding and since he is feeling so low and it's having a negative impact on your wellbeing together, it might be a good idea for him to also talk to the GP about how he has been feeling since his diagnosis and since treatment finished. It's really difficult though to find the right tone or the right words to talk to him without running the risk of sounding patronising when really you only want the best for both of you and would like to see his mood improve.  This is something many of our members will have experienced before and I am sure they will have good tips for you based on their own personal experiences to help you find the best way to communicate and be there for your partner. I hope you won't mind but I have slightly edited your title adding more relevant information so that it can be spotted by others on our forum who have been through something similar before. 

    There is a really interesting in-depth section on our website on mental health and cancer, this page on depression and cancer which I would encourage you to read as well as resources to help you find support for mental health. These pages explain rather well that "sometimes it isn't until everything is over that it hits you" because you have put so much effort into getting through the treatment that you don’t always have a chance to think about it all. Talking to a counsellor or to your GP about your feelings might be helpful for both of you and I hope that you will find the support you need to help you get through this difficult time and start making nice plans again for the future now the worst is out of the way. All this can take time though so be kind to yourself and as patient as you can with him and perhaps talk to your GP about all this so you can get some helpful advice on how to deal with this situation. Our nurse helpline is also open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm on this free number 0808 800 4040 so don't hesitate to give them a call if you would like to talk things through with them. 

    I hope things improve for you and your partner. We're all here for you anytime you need to offload - it does help to talk to others who understand what you are currently going through. 

    Best wishes, 

    Lucie, Cancer Chat Moderator

  • Hi,

    About the only thing I’ve learned through the whole cancer experience is that there’s no such thing as normal. According to this BMJ article “Depression affects up to 20%, and anxiety 10%, of patients with cancer, compared with figures of 5% and 7% for past-year prevalence in the general population”

    People with a really awful prognosis and terrible outcomes and side effects from their treatment are often as happy as Larry right up to the end and people with an improved prognosis and good outcomes are often utterly miserable and depressed.

    I’m no psychiatrist but a lot of people become depressed no matter how good the outcome of their treatment because they are convinced that it is only a matter of time before it comes back with a vengeance and kills them. I’ve been there and it’s a difficult frame of mind to escape from. I’m not too proud to admit that I needed anti-depressants from my GP and support from virtual friends on here to take the edge off to help with my own recovery and to escape from that nightmare. 

    He might not appreciate it, but a visit to his GP to discuss his situation and how to break out of his depressive mood might help. Maybe first ask him to read this link and consider whether he may have slipped into depression.  

    I hope everything turns out well for you both.

    Best wishes