How to Support Your Partner with Breast Cancer
It’s the worst news to hear – the dreaded C word. You’re probably feeling a range of emotions right now. It’s completely normal to feel anything from fear to anger.
However, it’s important to remember that 76% of people with breast cancer survive. It’s not a death sentence, and there is plenty of professional help.
After a diagnosis, it can be difficult to know what to do. But your priority should be supporting your partner. So, how can you do this?
Communicate with each other
A cancer diagnosis can put a strain on relationships. With so many emotions on both sides, it can quickly lead to bickering.
To avoid easy misunderstandings, prioritise communication. Try to talk things out and encourage your partner to discuss their feelings. While it’s difficult and affects both of you, remember they’re the one with cancer. You need to concentrate on listening.
The best way to beat cancer is to act as a team. This means going to appointments, tests, and check-ups together.
Dropping your partner off at their appointments isn’t enough. Go with them, hold their hand, and be a comfort for them. Also, don’t be embarrassed to ask questions. The more you know to help your partner, the better.
Cancer can greatly impact a person’s self-esteem. Due to chemotherapy or surgeries, cancer can significantly change a person’s body. Having no control over these changes can add additional negative feelings.
Women with breast cancer can often struggle with low self-esteem if they’ve had to get a mastectomy. This is where your encouragement comes in. Compliment them often, buy them flattering outfits, and offer positive advice. Breast reconstruction surgery is a common option for women who have had to get a mastectomy. This often helps confidence levels, so it should be considered.
Offer physical support
A common symptom of cancer patients is fatigue. This is the feeling of extreme exhaustion that sleep won’t cure.
Fatigue can make completing everyday tasks difficult. If you notice your partner is struggling with their energy levels, try to help where possible. Offer to cook dinner, go shopping, do housework, or drive them around. You don’t need to mollycoddle them, but taking on more responsibility will help your partner’s feeling of fatigue.
Look after yourself
Lastly, while looking after your partner should be your priority, I shouldn’t be your only focus. You’ll need to care for yourself to ensure you can still be there for them.
Schedule some time for yourself during the day. This could be going for a walk, listening to music, or watching TV. If your partner’s cancer diagnosis deeply affects you, don’t hesitate to ask for help. You can go to your family, friends, or professional help such as doctors or therapists. There are also multiple charities that can put you in touch with other people whose partner has breast cancer for additional support.
It’s incredibly scary when the person you love most in the world is diagnosed with cancer. You’ll experience a range of emotions, and you should allow yourself time to experience each.
The most important thing you can do for your partner is just to be there. Being there as a hand to hold or a shoulder to cry on is invaluable.
All the best.