I JUST WANT HIM TO STAY ALIVE! (DANUTA, AGED 67)
How did the story of your husband's cancer begin?
It began inconspicuously ‐ with a frequent need to urinate. These symptoms became worse, but my husband didn't pay much attention to it. He wouldn't listen to me when I was trying to convince him to go and see a doctor. Then I simple let go, and now I blame myself for that. Eventually he couldn't urinate and was in huge pain. Only then did he finally go to a doctor.
Why was he so reluctant to consult a doctor before?
He was afraid. I can't provide any other explanation.
What did you think and feel when he was diagnosed?
I was terrified, to say the least. It was as if I was hit by a bus. And I was very, very angry. I was angry because I couldn't understand why it happened to us. But when I saw how bad my husband was doing, I had to get a hold of myself and take care of him.
How did you take care of your husband?
I adopted a very task-oriented approach. I shook off my tears, I put my emotions aside, and set off organizing treatment. I asked my friends and relatives about the best doctors and this is how we came across this terrific doctor of ours.
Why is he so special?
He has a very human approach. He never spares his time and explains everything in detail. I obviously accompanied my husband at each and every visit. I took notes, asked many questions, and our doctor provided us with all the information. I felt calmer after each visit. We no longer created black scenarios of therapy.
Apart from the oncologist, who else supported you? Did you visit any psycho-oncologist?
Yes. Our doctor advised us to consult a psycho-oncologist. My husband resisted, but I persuaded him to do that. I myself needed this and attended a visit. Now I sometimes go and see a psychologist. I think that the role of psychological support in the process of treatment is much underestimated.
When the therapy began, how did you feel?
For the most part, I felt relief. As mentioned before, I am very task-oriented, and therapy meant action. Our doctor and psychologist discussed with us the possible adverse reactions to treatment, complications, and sexual dysfunctions. My husband even asked me if I would consider it to be a problem. I told him to go and have his brains examined, perhaps I was too rude. I just want him to stay alive! It's been three years since he was diagnosed. We've gone through some rough times, but now we're doing pretty fine. Our priorities have changed. We do get a little crazy from time to time. We travel, we go to the cinema, theatre, restaurants. We are very close, like we've never been before. We live life to the full!
What would you advise women who support their husband in the disease?
Talk to each other. Do not isolate yourself, seek help from your friends and family. Give yourself the right to be supported. Stay close. It'll give you the strength. And do not worry about tiniest little things that don't matter. I no longer do that and I feel it's much easier now.