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Welcome to CareNotes. In this special section we will feature a reader's letter and provide an opportunity for an interactive exchange that will help find some answers and possible solutions to concerns. If you wish to respond to this letter, simple follow the link provided at the end of the letter and add your comments and thoughts to our CareNotes Board.

This Week's Carenote - 10/05/10
Hi All,
My boyfriend was recently diagnosed with C-3 colon cancer. He refuses to stop smoking, he refuses to get what exercise he can, he refuses to do anything at all for himself. Then when he is hospitalized due to blood clots, he blames me for his laziness. I need to find a cancer support group and a chemo support group for him in Enid, OK.
His behavior has been so outrageous that even a receptionist at a physician’s office would rather see me leave him right now, as sick as he is, than watch how he treats me in public. She said,  "If you’re not married to him, you need to pack and run as fast as you can!"



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Name: Dawn Song
Location: Oregon
Date: 10/06/2010
Time: 10:11 AM


RM, I know exactly how you feel, going through it with my husband of almost 50 years, sick for the last two. I do have some thoughts for you: 1) Whether you stay or leave is entirely your choice. Be aware that you do have a choice, one way or the other. I choose to stay, not only because we have a long history together, and have taken turns supporting each other for so long, and also because he's a neat guy (with some serious "warts" right now) but also because I am learning very valuable lessons from this illness. 2) It's really hard to be sick. It's even more hard to be male and sick, I think. Think about it, our male culture emphasizes being able to do things, fix things, be "strong and manly", not have emotions or at least not let them get in the way, and so on. Anger is a way to control things, and comes out frequently when one feels loss of control. For this reason, they have a really hard time being anything other than tip-top competent and OK and the fear comes out in blame and irritation, anger, frustration, etc. and yes, even refusing to do anything remedial (because that admits that they are not OK, that whatever they are doing is just fine for them.) 3) At the same time, he has absolutely no right to abuse you for whatever reason in any way. So, you must choose your battles--if you can let it slide off your shoulders, do that ("It's not about me"--this was the first lesson I am (still) learning.) If you can't, you have several options--stay and fight or talk about it, calmly tell him when he's ready to be respectful, you'll come back into his presence, return his anger and blame with silence (smiling inside knowing that it is not your fault), return his anger with a kind word--whatever works for you at the moment. I've walked away many times, fought many times, been silent many times, smiled and been kind many times. 4) Give up your expectations of what he "should" do. Focus on what you can do, let go of the rest. This is very hard to do, believe me, but it works! If you've decided to stay with him is worth it, remind yourself that this is your choice. 5) Read Gail Sheehy's "Passages in Caregiving". It's chock-full of ideas and resources. Read other books that may help you. 6) Forget about the cancer and chemo support group for him. Find a group for yourself. Let him find his way. Do what you can with love and let go of the rest. Hope these ideas will give you some peace. D

Name: M. Schihl
Location: WI
Date: 10/05/2010
Time: 08:34 PM


Like you, everyday, I live with the person you describe - the “Refuser,” & after 3 yrs., like you, I am beyond anymore ‘creative’ fixes &/or solutions to help me cope everyday. Only I can best change myself & all that comes with me &, the same holds true for all else that lives. Every step I witness that she takes; hand-in-hand, she walks a little closer to Death & I am her sole/ soul/ spirit Witness & am her sole heir & her only child & her eldest, still living matrilineage seed. :-( :-( :-( Everyday, like you, I feel my place in this world & it is Low on the Scale of Things. This person I live with is my mother, my only living parent who raised me alone with little family or governmental support. Mid-aged & childless by choice, ***I have become my mother's daughter*** in all the ways I have struggled to defy &/or correct/ resolve all my life. At 45, I am trying to UN- & RE-Learn dysfunctional familial patterns whilst living with the innovative manifestations of why I am who I AM & especially who I AM NOT. I pray that you also *look within for your soul-spirit solutions & just allow yourself to feel how you feel.* Then, no matter cost or sacrifices, do what you know must be done as only you can accomplish. Trust more in yourself & cast aside all else to the Eternal Cosmos. God bless you on your Soul/ Sole Journey. :-) Chalbelle



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