How to Cope with a Spouse’s Cancer Diagnosis

Hearing that your loved one has cancer is incredibly difficult and overwhelming.  When it is your spouse that has cancer, it can leave you reeling.   Depending on the prognosis and outlook, you may be feeling a range of emotions.  In the meantime, you will also be a critical part of your spouse’s support system while they navigate their own emotions and begin the process of treatment.  But ultimately, hearing that your spouse has cancer is very upsetting and you will have a lot of questions and emotions to work through as you try to cope with the diagnosis.

When you first hear that your spouse has cancer, it will likely feel like a punch in the gut.  We all know that being the one diagnosed with cancer is very hard and upsetting but often, people do not realize the toll it takes on the spouse.  Taking care of a spouse recently diagnosed with cancer and supporting them through the treatment process will probably be one of the toughest jobs of your life.  As the spouse of someone recently diagnosed you will hear about the disease, hear about treatment options, make decisions during treatment and support your spouse in whatever ways they need.  Whether you take on the role of nurse, chef, cheerleader or more, you will be supporting your spouse through a difficult time.  It may feel like a lot of pressure and you may be dealing with yoru own feelings of fear, frustration, resentment and sadness.  When your spouse is diagnosed with cancer, it is important to ensure that you still take care of yourself.  While taking care of yourself may be the last thing on your mind, it is very important because if you burn the candle at both ends, it will not end well for anyone.  Supporting someone going through cancer treatment is stressful and exhausting and you may need your own support system to get through things.  Enlist friends and family to help you so that you do not feel alone and isolated in the world of cancer.  Get help with things like cooking and cleaning when you can so that you can take one of the less important things off your plate and focus on being there for your spouse and yourself.  The dynamics of your relationship may change and that is a reality that you need to face and openly deal with during cancer treatment.  Your spouse may withdraw, become depressed and be sad often.  But, your relationship will also become deeper and more intimate through the process.  While relationship changes during cancer are unavoidable, there are things you can do to help ease the transition.  Speak to a therapist or trusted counselor about the changes and  keep an open line of communication as much as possible.  Each situation and diagnosis is unique and, often, one of the best things you can do is simply listen.  Allow your spouse to voice their feelings, frustrations and concerns and rather than making promises that you cannot keep, simply listen to them and be a loving support through their trying time.  By caring for yourself, talking about your emotions and listening to your spouse you will be the best support system to your spouse that you can be.

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