- Question from Marco: It's getting harder and harder to be strong for my wife—she's more than halfway done with chemo, but her mood is worse, when I thought it would be getting better. She's not sleeping, she's started "chemopause," etc. I'm worried about her, but I get frustrated by her negativity. What do you recommend?
My wife was also very negative during the chemo months and unfortunately she did feel worse as the months wore on. But I'm more of an optimist, so I would be thinking "three treatments down, three to go."
What I learned is that she copes by letting all of her negative feelings out, and I had to step back and respect that and let her say what she wanted to say, and not try to force my optimism on her. But deep down inside, I was still counting the days until chemo was over, and that made me feel better.
Rosalind Kleban, L.C.S.W.
For many patients, they begin treatment with energy and optimism. This optimism takes a lot of energy because a diagnosis of cancer induces negative feelings in most people, so a display of optimism takes a tremendous amount of energy. With each treatment the patient's energy is sapped. The effects of chemotherapy are cumulative, so after the fourth or fifth treatment, the patient no longer has the energy for optimism and how they truly feel becomes apparent.
I would take Marc's advice. Take a step back, respect your wife's feelings and never invalidate those feelings regardless of how optimistic you may feel. With treatment over, and your wife regaining her strength, if she was an optimistic person to begin with, she will slowly regain that.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Partners, Loved Ones, Caregivers: Taking Care of You featured Author Marc Silver and moderator Rosalind Kleban, L.C.S.W. answering your questions about how you can take care of your loved one and yourself during and after breast cancer treatment.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in February 2007.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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