Your Dilemmas: My wife has become distance since her breast cancer diagnosis

In her weekly column, JOAN LONG, a Bishopstown psychologist and psychotherapist, answers readers’ queries
Your Dilemmas: My wife has become distance since her breast cancer diagnosis

"My wife has been very strong up to now but I have noticed over the last two weeks that she has become distant and does not have much communication with our children."

Dear Joan,

Two months ago, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a huge shock for me and our children when we got the news but my wife and I decided immediately to be open and honest about it all to our children.

My wife has been very strong up to now but I have noticed over the last two weeks that she has become distant and does not have much communication with our children. She becomes angry when I ask her about this and isolates herself even more. I understand the side effects of chemo and I get why she is behaving like this but I find it difficult to handle.

Our children now say very little to her and they spend more time away from the home in order not to be around her. I’m worried that if anything were to happen to my wife, that the children would be left with the memory of an angry and distant mother.

It’s hard enough trying to cope with a sick wife, but the family situation is making it even more difficult. I wish my wife would be more open with our kids so that we could be a close family again.

Dear Reader,

Right now, you and your family are going through a very traumatic time and experiencing a wave of emotions. The closeness that was there has now been shattered by the reality of living with cancer.

Your wife is clearly feeling the physical and psychological effects of the treatment and it sounds like she is having a very difficult time. It’s possible that she is becoming distant in order to shield your children from witnessing the effects that she is enduring and maybe she wants to protect them from that.

For now, it is important that you continue to communicate with your children and ensure them that they are loved by you and your wife. They also need to know that their mother’s anger and distance is a result of the treatment and not based on anything personal.

I would suggest getting in touch with Cork ARC Cancer Support House or Cork Cancer Care Centre, both of which provide support to people with cancer and their families. It will also allow you and your children to meet and share with other families who are having similar experiences. For now, you are doing all you can at this very difficult time and I sincerely wish you the very best.

Joan.

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