The burden of supporting someone you love can be both a privilege and a responsibility. It is vitally important to identify the limitations that may exist emotionally, relationally, and psychologically for a couple that is battling cancer together.
One of the most difficult aspects of coping with a chronic or long-term illness such as cancer can be expressing to friends and family members what exactly you are experiencing. The stigma of cancer can be enough to cause confusion, anxiety, and speculation from those who are closest to you and distant relatives whom you rarely see. Although friends and family have the best of intentions, the result of the numerous phone calls, texts, and cards can be overwhelming. Often the weight of this burden is thrust upon whoever is the closest person to the situation, which may be a husband, wife or partner.
The burden of supporting someone you love can be both a privilege and a responsibility. Many caregivers wear this title with pride. However, it is vitally important to identify the limitations that may exist emotionally, relationally, and psychologically for a couple that is battling cancer together. Often you hear people say, “Well, if you can make it through cancer, you can make it through anything.” While this is a motivating statement, the reality for couples experiencing this disease may be more complex. Cancer can be a unifying experience for couples, but it can also cause immense emotional strain and stress on a relationship.
The good news is that we are in an age that is beginning to view cancer in a more holistic way. There are resources available for individuals and couples navigating the cancer journey. For example, the Cancer Survivors Network is a place for “expressing feelings and experiences and supporting one another…” This community, like many others, is a platform for those going through cancer and their caregivers to share the burden of cancer with others who often can relate.
Many community hospitals offer community cancer support groups that help serve as a great outlet for those battling cancer and their caregivers. At Mercy Medical Center, we offer many support groups and services, which you can read about here: https://www.cantonmercy.org/cancer-support. Sometimes the issues are intimate and you may not feel comfortable sharing them on an online forum or a local support group. In this case, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) suggests talking with a counselor or seeing a specialist, like a sex therapist, who may be able to help you talk openly about any problems or concerns.
Going through cancer can be an isolating journey, but with the availability of resources for couples it doesn’t have to be a destructive force on your relationships.