“Yes, it’s cancer.” At that point your life changes in ways that you can never imagine. As a spouse, your job becomes even more complex than it ever was. Your mate is going to go through a variety of reactions from denial to obsession. This will depend on personality and view of life. Your job, however, will be to help to face the diagnosis and prognosis. You need to help your spouse go on with life.
Here are some things that you can do to help:
As a spouse, you should be involved in the medical care from day one in order to fully understand the treatment plan, its physical effects, and its expected outcome. By being a partner, you let your spouse know that they are not facing this life-threat by themselves.
Keep in mind, however, that being involved does not mean taking over. It’s not your place to make all the decisions for your spouse, after all, it’s their life. You are merely there to help understand what’s coming.
Your spouse is going to want to be treated like she’s sick one minute and then the next minute she’ll want you to treat her normally. It’s a tightrope that you’ll walk and she won’t be able to help you because she’s dealing with these conflicting feelings too. You have to be patient and understand that it’s “not personal” and it’s a part of dealing with the disease.
It is vital that you and your spouse open the lines of communication as wide as you can. There will be a lot of stress coming and you need to be able to deal with it together. You need to be able to listen to what she has to say without offering an opinion unless you’re asked. You need to be able to talk to her about her expectations for you and vice versa. Talk openly about your fears, hopes, and plans. Keep focused on the future.
4) Outside support
Your spouse needs to learn to open herself to her family and friends and let them “take care” of her. They will offer rides, meals, and other things because that’s all they can do. They really wish they could cure her right away, but they can’t, so the best they can do is offer a ride to treatment. You both need to let them. Family and friends don’t consider that an imposition, it’s their way of supporting you.
In addition, you will need personal support of your own. You need an outlet for your stress and you need “time off”. This will be an extremely hard time ahead and you need to be on your game for her, and that means some time off occasionally for you. By allowing family and friends to help from time to time, it allows you to take time off for yourself.
Breast cancer, if caught early, is not the death sentence that it used to be. It is survivable with time and treatment. Even ultimately terminal cases are not usually immediate which means you have life left to live together. As a couple, you can make it through and make the best of the time you have.