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PC and Your Marriage
Zen9 posted:
I'm curious:

I have read over and over that prostate cancer is a "couple's disease" and that it is very important to communicate and deal with it together. Yet my wife reacted to my PC and radical prostatectomy as if I became "damaged goods." I'm not blaming her for her reaction - it's just a fact.

So many men on this board say that they couldn't have gotten through prostate cancer, its treatment, and its side effects (especially sexual) without the love and support of their wives. Yet a few have suggested that they have had other experiences, and some men I have talked to personally say they ended up getting divorced after getting prostate cancer. I am beginning to suspect that losing your wife or girlfriend is one of the usually unmentioned side effects of getting prostate cancer, particularly for those of us in our 40's and 50's.

So ...

Men, did your wife/girlfriend help you deal with your prostate cancer and its effects, or did she become distant or even leave you because of it?

And ladies, did PC cause you to become closer to your husband/boyfriend or did it make you want to leave him (whether you actually did or not)?

Gary0329 responded:
My wife was completely supportive, and has told me many times after that she would rather have me around, cancer-free, than have intercourse. Besides, there are other things that can be done that are just as satisfying.

Ask your wife what she would think if she had to have mastectomies, and you viewed her as damaged goods?
stxdave responded:
Hi Zen,

Great thread. I think, as with any crisis within a family, a strong marriage closes ranks and becomes even stronger. A weak marriage is unable to support the additional burden and tends to crumble.

The point Gary made about a mastectomy is, in fact, a breaking point among weak marriages. If you listen in on the breast cancer patients you will find it to be a formidable issue.

The root of the problem is not as curable as breast or prostate cancer.

marleybone59 responded:
Zen9 am so sad to read your post because i know for sure that my husband means more to me now than he ever did. sex is a wonderful part of a relationship but to have sat next to my husband through this entire process has made me realize what an amazing man he is all over again. if i never had sex again but got to hold his hand every day for the rest of my life i would be a very happy woman. i have posted throughout the past year from diagnosis, through surgery, hormone implantation, radiation and the members of this board are amazingly helpful and insightful. i agree 100% with the post suggesting you ask your wife how she would feel if she had a mastectomy and you said she was damaged goods. is it possible that she was always this way and you are just realizing it now? the most important thing is that you get care and support throughout your journey. mental health is a huge part of the healing process and the additional stress is not doing you any good. am sure i speak for all the members here that we are here for you but please, do yourself a huge favor and work through this issue at once and if she is not the woman you need in your life make the appropriate changes to get that woman/person to share everything with. i am a huge believer in "home is where the heart is". you need to have a strong home, more now than ever. all our best wishes, S&M
Zen9 responded:
I really appreciate your concern but that's not what this thread is about. It's not about me or my situation. I'm not sad, don't be sad for me. Life is what it is.

I intended something more like a survey - unscientific, perhaps, due to a statistically insignificant number of responses, but interesting nevertheless.

I am curious as to whether almost every man who gets prostate cancer can count on the emotional support of his wife/girlfriend


whether many men lose whatever emotional support from their wife/girlfriend that they once had.

I suspect there are more men in the latter category than most people realize, and more than the medical and popular literature about PC acknowledge, but I started this thread to investigate if I am correct about that.

So ... thank you for the responses so far and let's hear from some others!

mspt98 responded:
I Zen have had a somewhat mixed message from my wife after getting prostate CA. No signs of CA recurrence, incontinence totally gone after 3 months since surgery on 09/11/08. ED remains. Not much sign of spontaneous erections, have to use trimix solutions 2x/wk for any chance of sex. Sometimes I inject at the wrong spot and NO erection occurs at all, happened last Sunday. Yesterday my wife said she wanted sex tomorrow or else, I don't know what else is since she can't financially support herself, she hasn't worked in years. I feel like telling her to inject me to see if she can find the right spot since I seem to miss it some of the time. My wife and I had issues long before the prostate CA so I guess the CA has just brought them to the front burner. I dont't think she'll leave since she has nowhere has to go but the depression in our marriage has certainly increased since the prostate CA..........
JustanotherGuyaroundhere responded:
As Dave pretty much said above, the good marriages get stronger and the weak ones crumble.

I had a radical at the ripe old age of 41 in 2000 and honestly the sexual problems are tough. But overall our marriage was important to us and we remain together. We have adjusted to other methods.

But on the whole, I'm pretty sure you would see a spike in divorce rates for PCA patients, sadly.
bruce869 responded:
Speaking for my partner, I have always been here for him. He was diagnosed early and had successful surgery. ED was a problem with him and not with me. I loved him and there are other ways of romance and fulfilling someone's needs. Nothing worked, he had an implant about 6 weeks ago, which was about 2 and 1/2 years after being diagnosed. He didn't want closeness and I did. He got his way.

He was not depressed, and I suspect he has experimented with himself often. I'd catch him touching himself during the first few weeks. He didn't want sex with me. I'm sure he's an addict so I didn't really want him to have the surgery. He said he wanted to feel good about himself.

The problem is, he is only turned on by others although I'm an attractive lady. That's how it is..normal sex or partly mechanical sex is normal for men like him. It makes their world go 'round. He's retiring soon and seems to be talking of finding a spot in another state, which will be without me. I tried so hard for counseling for us. He went twice and I was not permitted as he is x-military. There are selfish men and selfish women and it's too bad they don't find each other. I feel for each one who is abused in their relationship, who doesn't have a mate to stand by and love them with heart and soul. I am torn and yet I wait for the selfish one to change. He won't. Good luck to all who stay and wait, and good luck to all who don't.

Bruce's 2000 toss
texkat55 responded:
I have been married for 38 yrs. Stood by him thru thick and thin and there was alot of thin. Now being cancer free for 2 1/2 yrs. I feel not so much let down by our situation but being pushed into a guilt trip about me in his words" never caring about sex anyway, so it really is not such a big deal to me and that I probably glad his prostate was removed. " Well, he is right in one way, I still have him here and he is cancer free,we could live a wonderful life, but having his prostate removed he thinks"he is not a man anymore,his manhood has been taken away. I try to be patient but it is very hard.
Zen9 responded:
I thought that this thread had died.

I am very grateful that texkat55 has revived it. I strongly suspect that there are a lot more stories out there, good, bad, and mixed. As texkat55 and others know, some of the stories may not be easy to tell, but I am starting to believe that disintegration of marriages and other similar long-term relationships is a side of prostate cancer that has been intentionally buried by the medical community - which frankly doesn't have the best track record when it comes to candor and prostate cancer in general ... but I digress.

chrisnz responded:
I had seed implants last year, when I got home the boss moved into another bedroom saying I was radio active inspite of all the literature I produced. This is very much a case of 'it's your disease get on with it'. I have managed all aspects through 5.5 years of active surveillance to deciding on my treatment and getting 300km to and from the hospital. But there again I take no active part in her hypochondria, so what else can I expect?
heistheloveofmylife responded:

My husband was diagnosed just this past January and had the DaVinci radical prostatectomy in February. He has come along pretty well but is very frustrated with incontinence. His doctor has prescribed a therapeutic dose of cialis but we believe the cialis is causing him terrible back aches. He has not spoken yet with his doctor about this and I have not pushed him to do so. My concern right now is to help get him through the incontinence issues, keep him from being discouraged and depressed and be as supportive as I can be in any way that he needs me.

We are fairly young (he is 56, I am 51). We have always had a great sex life and I won't lie, I am afraid to not share this with him again. He wants to take care of me but it hurts me terribly knowing that he will never experience again what we have had for more than 30 years.

Leave him? I love him and want him in my life. Mostly, I want to know how to relate to him. I just don't know how to approach him in a way that will not make him uncomfortable or make him feel that he is "not the man he used to be."

Tell me, what should I do and say? He is the love of my life and I am way more concerned that he believes that than anything else right now.
mspt98 responded:
Honey (not to be sexist or anything!) just let him know you are there for him and willing to do whatever it takes to have some kind of a normal sex life. I'm not going to lie to you, when I was diagnosed at 52 with prostate ca my sex life with my wife of 27 years was already on the down hill slide of 2x/wk MY CHOICE, not hers, my libido was wearing out for no apparent reason. I'm just not that into sex I guess. Now I have to use trimix injections for any kind of real intercourse. If it was up to me I'd just quit altogether since my wife has made it clear all these years that she has never had an orgasm with me (or with any of her boyfriends for that matter) in her entire life. Still she wants the intimacy of sex for the closeness if nothing else. 6 months out from surgery I am continent but I still use trimix for sex although at a lower dose than in the beginning. . I am hopeful that someday I can get by with cialis, viagra or levitra. Still trying to hold my marriage together............prostate ca survivor
Zen9 responded:
Sounds like we have situations all over the board:

- men and women retaining and even strengthening their emotional bonds

- men trying hard to stay emotionally close to women who are growing more and more distant

- women trying hard to stay emotionally close to men who are growing more and more distant

- men and women falling apart

Thanks to all for sharing their stories (and more stories would be very welcome). I think that this is a part of PC that the medical profession sweeps under the rug.

Along that line, anyone care to comment abut how well (or how poorly) the medical profession prepares us and our spouses for the possibility of changes in our marriages and other close personal relationships? Personally, I went to four urologists and two radiologists before chosing a urogist to perform my radical prostatectomy. I think all of them were technically good - and by that I mean each of them did or would have performed his respective medical procedure well - but none of them cared about my personal well-being and all of them saw me and my cancer primarily as an opportunity to make money. Heck, the guy who told me my biopsy had come back positive could barely contain his glee (I chose someone else for the operation).

Agree? Disagree?

mspt98 responded:
ABSOLUTELY TRUE! The reason I didn't pick my local urologist of 17 years,who was the "king" of the open procecdure to do my surgery was because all he cared about was money. All the years I went for yearly DRE and PSA ,appointments meant nothing to this guy. It didn't matter if you had a 830/930/ 1030 appointment he always showed up after 1100 to jam all his patients in after his surgeries. You knew you would have to blow away half a days pay to see this MD every time. And this wasn't an isolated incident, it happened year after year. I mean, I too want to make money as much as anybody but my time is valuable too. After my second biopsy was positive for prostate CA, I asked his PA what he thought about the robot procedure. I knew he would be loyal to his boss, but what he said to me convinced me to go elsewhere: "Oh I would never have the robot operate on me Dr."King" has done thousand of prostatectomies. He's so good at it he can knock one out in less than an hour!" Wow, I'm so glad Dr. "King" can do 8-9 prostatectomies/day. WHAT ABOUT MY NERVES? WHAT ABOUT MY QUALITY OF LIFE? He couldn't care less. I went to a Devinci Surgeron 70 miles away who at least acted like he cared, even though he was probably just slow for business at the time. He was a much nicer man.............

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