Boyfriend has a terminal cancer

A place for those 18-35 to chat about all things caring.
Hi there, I'm 21 and my boyfriend has been diagnosed with a terminal cancer. He is going through chemo at the moment, following an operation and radiotherapy. Anyone going through something similar? Im not a full time carer as we have moved into our separate parents houses to reduce financial burdens so I am trying to do things long distance but I definitely do my fair share! I am also going back to uni full time in September and work part time. Very isolating, stressful, draining and just hard work. I love him to pieces though.
Never underestimate the power of prayer

Always try to be a glass nearly full type of person and think positive thoughts would be my philosophy
Dear Helena

My heart goes out to you both - this is a desperately cruel situation for you and him. I know that with his tragically young age, the oncologists will do all they possibly can to 'keep him going' and always remember that more treatments are coming out of the research laboratories all the time, so 'something new' might arrive in time when the current treatments 'run out'.

When cancer is deemed incurable, the name of the game is 'hanging on' and 'stepping stones', trying to hop from one treatment to another, to stay one step ahead and not let the cancer catch up with you. I do so very much hope this may prove possible.

The latest hope for drug treatment is a new look immunotherapy, which aims to stimulate the body's own immune system into attacking the cancer cells themselves. Thee has been considerable success with this new approach in several cancers, and trial are now rolling out across various different cancer sites, so I hope that perhaps this will be true for your young man too.

Although I think it's wise that you have both 'returned home', I do hope that in this long vac you are able to see a lot of him, and visit often with his parents. This might be easy to say, but if you can set earning any money as your 'lowest' priority (if that is at all practical) then I would urge you to do so.

The future is highly uncertain, and I know that if you can look back, should that dreadful 'look back' time finally arrive, you will feel great comfort from knowing you spent the most time you could with him. Though yes, I expect his parents will also want him 'to themselves' as well - though rejoicing that he has you in his life. You must be an immense, immense comfort to him, and them.

I lost my own husband to cancer some years ago now, but we were both middle aged, and had had thirty years together - thirty precious years. For you to face what you are facing, and him too, at your desperately young ages is hideously cruel.

Whatever the outcome, your live will survive - we take those we love with us all the time, and keep them safe in our heart. We can never lose them....

With kindest, heartfelt wishes, to two people who should not have to face what you are facing - kindest regards, Jenny
Hi everyone,

Thank you, Colin and Jenny, for both of your replies.

Jenny, your reply, in particular, did get me rather emotional. You hit the spot which a lot of people don't hit, especially if they don't know the circumstances.

I immediately was drawn towards immunotherapy - it is so clever. Unfortunately, it is being advised by many professions for people with GBM to not go forward with it for many reasons. The brain is an odd organ! I am able to see him most weeks if not then every two weeks. We also try to have about a week together once to twice a month. I have even applied to join university this academic year. I am earning a small amount of money, mainly with the incentive of holidays and trips away with him over the next year.

I really appreciate your advice Jenny, especially as knowing you have been through the same. Although, I am sorry to hear it too. I hope that you too are coping with the loss of your husband. I can't imagine what it must be like to have thirty years with someone and then for them to go. Cancer is heart breaking.

I wish you all the best.

Dear Helena - sorry if I made you emotional, but this is one of the most 'emotional' situations you will ever be in, as I know you know, and already feel like a knife in your heart....

I'm sorry to hear about immontherapy being 'resisted' for GBM, but I hope some breakthrough can be made all the same at some point. I know the brain is a tricky place to have cancer, not just because of the obvious dangers to essential tissues (the irony is, with cancer, so often it takes place, when older, in tissues we can easily 'spare', like our breasts!), but also perhaps because of the way the body protects the brain.

Our Blood Brain Barrier means that we have, as you probably already know now, a 'safety-catch' on letting chemicals get into our brains, in order to protect it - the blood vessels that run through the brain are very 'non-porous', which in effect means that only 'small molecules' carried in the blood can get through the walls of the blood vessels and into the brain tissue itself. This is why some cancer medicines just 'don't work' in the brain as the molecules the chemicals of the medicine are too large to squeeze through the extra tiny 'pores' of the brain's blood vessels. However, some of the meds can, but I don't know whether that applies to the new immunotherapy drugs, or whether there are other reasons why they may be non-functional, or even potentially dangerous.

I do know that in other cancers, that originate elsewhere in the body, but which has now 'reached' the brain as secondary tumours, doctors are often very loathe to include patients with brain mets (metastases, the secondary tumours spread in the bloodstream) (sorry if you know all this!) in any of the clinical trials, which is pretty tough on those with secondary brain tumours! However, there may be 'sensible' reasons for this while a drug is being tried, not least the issue of whether the drug can physically reach into the brain because of the blood brain barrier.

I do nevertheless hope that some breakthrough might be developing in time for your boyfriend - it seems so unbearable cruel that one of the most dangerous forms of cancer, brain cancer, can seem to affect youngsters almost more than it does in the older populations.....

I am glad you are planning on holidays and so forth, and I think this is so, so important to look forward to and aim for. I hope that maybe you can have something of a break with him this summer, which will mean so much to you both.

You are a brave young woman to be facing this at so young an age, and your boyfriend is, without doubt, what the Americans call a 'Cancer Warrior' - he is coping with what none of his peers have to cope with, and it is a tribute to his character and strength.

Speaking of Americans, may I recommend a website called Cancer Compass ... ,119,5.htm

I found this a very useful site with my husband's cancer, some years ago. The advantage over UK forums (which are also good, of course) is that in the USA they are likely to be able to get the very latest treatments (if they have health insurance of course!)) before they become mainstream over here. So it gives you a good glimpse of what 'might be coming' and then you can start to agitate for it.

For now, I wish you all that can be wished for, even in such a desperately difficult time, and hope that you enjoy ALL that you have with him, and make the very, very most of every day - after all, in the end, it is all any of us have. 'We call it the present because it is a gift' - I know that can be 'trite' but it is true, for all that.

Kindest, kindest wishes to you and your boyfriend - Jenny
Hi Helena,
You are in tough situation right now. Please don't let your own health suffer, it's really important you look after yourself too. Make sure you tell your tutor on your Masters course about your BF's situation.