Three years ago my partner got cancer of the left tonsil. He is now cancer free, but the experience has totally changed him and our relationship. He has never fully recovered and is constantly having medical problems and going to doctors.

We used to have so much fun and now he depends on me to make most decisions. He has no energy to go anywhere and mostly watches TV when we are not together.

I am seriously grieving for our lost relationship and don't know how to handle it. I know I can't bring back what was, but it's so awful watching his slow decline.

You have to face the fact that what once was is no more. Ask yourself if you can and are willing to live that way for an indefinite time. Or would it be better to get him to safety and you move on? Only you can answer that and then do what is best for you. He is g o n e.
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Reply to Riley2166

I don’t have any answers for you. I’m going through pretty much the same thing. My husband had a stroke over 3 years ago, heart surgery before that, toes removed and now has a huge sore on his foot. They want to remove the foot. I understand about the grief that you’re talking about. I knew him for 40 years. He was young and healthy etc. of course, we both were. Anyway, thanks for sharing, I thought I was alone. Also, I’m his caregiver, especially now with it so hard to get medical appts. I even change his dressings, give him meds, go with everywhere etc. thanks. Dawn
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Reply to dawn1947

Imho, I am so sorry that your partner's cancer, even though he beat it, has turned him into a seemingly different person. Prayers sent to you.
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Reply to Llamalover47

Your kind and thoughtful answers certainly opened up the floodgates for me. There's nothing like knowing others are there for you that helps.

I will certainly look up The Grief Recovery Handbook as I am a reader and that may help.

With all the restrictions now, I'm not sure I can do counseling, but maybe in the future.

We are not married, but have been a couple for 19 years, so not much different.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your wonderful suggestions.
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Reply to BobsPartner19

All medical insurance programs allow for "psychological" help. In reading your narative a psychologist can help you see and get a healthy perspective. When you "see" can move thru your caregiving and relationship.
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Reply to DKelso34

You are certainly experiencing grief, and I am so very sorry.
May I recommend the book, "The Grief Recovery Handbook" by John W. James and Russell Friedman. It is amazing.
There may also be grief support groups offered at no cost through local hospice providers. I went through Crossroad Hospice and it was excellent; we read and discussed "The Grief Recovery Handbook" cover to cover and it was remarkably helpful.
Grief is grief is grief. We don't have to lose a person to death to feel it. There were people who participated who had lost careers, life savings, friendships, or were in situations similar to yours. The loss of an active, equal partnership in a relationship is not only very stressful, but is often the cause of real, undeniable grief.
Take care of yourself.
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Reply to princesssf

Years ago in a casual conversation a friend recounted what happened after she and her partner survived a critical illness. She stated-- we had all this fight for this common enemy and fought it valiantly. When it was gone, we still had all that fight in us and without realizing, we then turned it on each other.
After my husband survived a serious illness, I noticed we were duplicating what my friend had recounted. I shared this with my husband and we worked on re-establishing our relationship. Realizing it had changed, we  had to resist the excess fighting and come to a common ground. 
It wasn't easy, but with time, we found a new relationship.
I had cancer about three years ago and this is the first year I have enough energy to tackle anything above the basics. Thankfully, my husband gave me the time to fully recover.
Funny thing, I went back and thanked that friend for sharing. I truly believe it saved my marriage. She doesn't remember saying it. I do as it's one of those moments that sticks in your memory. 
I wish you good luck and with time and work it can get better from here.
Sending you hugs of support.
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Reply to eyeager

I have some thoughts from the perspective of the person who was treated for cancer:
1. During treatment most days are about the job of getting better, not dealing with the emotions. After it's over, it takes time to process what just happened. I echo the recommendations for depression screening or counseling to process how life changed.
2. Sometimes the treatments (chemo) can alter or dull thinking. Look up chemo brain. This does get better, but sure takes time. A neuropsychologist referral would help sort this out.
3. It is so easy to get tired. Either physically or mentally, stamina isn't the same. Energy conservation, choosing what to spend that energy on, is critical. It does get better.
4. My husband's faithfully being my stabilizer through it all was invaluable.
I hope these thoughts help some.
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Reply to MaryNTN
my2cents Jul 9, 2020
MaryNTn has some very good points. For her first point, I'm not sure if it's depression that kicks in. For me it was spending a year fighting something and then all of a sudden you aren't fighting it. I began thinking about that one cell that might still be floating around looking for a place to start growing again. Going from treating to nothing was hard for me to grasp. And yes, chemo brain or chemo fog is very real. It got better with time, but for a while it is exactly what they call it - foggy. The drugs changed the muscle ability in my legs, even 10 years later. I was the energizer bunny and could work a flower bed squatted all day, getting up and down. That strength never returned. Wanting to get out and about did return as other strength did.
Baby steps with him is what I recommend. Short outing to something he really used to enjoy. As he builds strength, in brain and body, you may be back to doing things you used to.
I agree with others here. He should be screened for depression and you should look into couples counseling. If he doesn't want to go, look for an individual counselor.
I have been treated for depression for 15 years and can attest to the fact that the proper medication can make life worthwhile again. But know that the meds can take 6-8 weeks to become fully effective, although there is improvement rather quickly. Also, there are different types that work different ways. I take an SSRI, but there are other kinds.
BEST of luck to you.
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Reply to swanalaka

Are his 'medical problems' valid, or is he acting like a hypochondriac now and wanting to go to the doctor out of fear? That's an important question, really, because if he's having a ton of real medical issues, then he may be in no mood to go out and have fun.

If, on the other hand, he's inventing medical problems that don't really exist, he could be depressed and benefit from medication to help with that issue. In certain instances, anti depressants can be like a light switch is turned back on in a person who's suffering the ravages of depression. Lack of energy and being uninterested in activities are two big red flags for signs of depression.

Wishing you the best of luck in a tough situation, my friend.
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Reply to lealonnie1

Of course you're grieving. That's very normal in the situation you find yourself in. I can relate. After only a year and a half of marriage, my husband had a massive stroke which left him permanently disabled. Because of his disabilities, he became a hermit and never wanted to go or do anything outside the house(unless I made him feel real guilty--LOL. Hey a girl has to do what a girls has to do) Now thankfully he never stopped me from going and doing what I enjoyed, but it wasn't the same. I often felt like a single woman. Sadly over the years my husband has continued to decline with more and more health issues. As of today he is under Hospice care and completely bedridden. I feel like I have been grieving for the last 24 1/2 years (we'll be celebrating our 26th wedding anniversary July 8th) for what should and could have been. You're right, it is awful to watch someone you love slowly decline. It's heart breaking. I don't know if you're married or not, but in my vows I promised to love my husband in sickness and health, and that is what I have tried to do, even if it has been very hard at times.
I know they have grief support groups for people who have lost loved ones, but now I am thinking that might be what we both need, even though our loved ones are still here.
Hang in there and enjoy the time you still have together, whatever that looks like. God bless you.
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Reply to funkygrandma59
Maryjann Jul 6, 2020
You are a good person for honoring the love you two have together. But I know it's hard. 26 years is a testimony to you and your husband
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The idea of couples counseling is excellent. Has his doctor been informed about the changes in his mood and energy? I’d think a medical evaluation could be in order
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Reply to Daughterof1930

Perhaps you and partner would benefit from couples counseling. You've had a profound change and some objective wisdom could help navigate it. Also, ask yourself if the situation were reversed, how would you want your partner to react, how would you want him to treat you, to think about your relationship? I wish you all the best as you work through this together.
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Reply to Geaton777

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