Emotions Experienced by Breast Cancer Patients and Their Significant Others
Breast cancer doesn’t just affect the person who is diagnosed. Often, the patient’s spouse has many of the emotions they are feeling and is equally full of anxiety and worry, just without all the unfortunate side effects of cancer treatment. Here are some of the emotions that breast cancer patients’ significant others endure:
It’s a horrible feeling when someone you love is in pain and undergoing something you cannot help them with. Spouses often feel helpless and a total loss of control because there is nothing they can do to stop the cancer. To help your significant other through this, consider giving them something to do. While they probably can’t personally remove a tumor or administer radiation treatment, they can help make healthy dinners for your family or clean the house when you’re feeling exhausted. Help them to feel like they are being productive by giving them tasks.
Similar to feeling a loss of control, anger is a natural reaction to a cancer diagnosis. Thoughts like, “Why my wife?” or “What did I do wrong?” are common among the significant others of cancer patients. You likely will experience this feeling as well. To cope with anger, recognize that it exists and find healthy ways to express it. That may mean doing some exercise, talking through your feelings or even yelling. However, avoid taking your anger out on others.
Some significant others turn to “go mode” and immediately want to be as helpful and productive as possible in the face of a cancer diagnosis. They start asking people to bring over meals, help with the kids and come be with you in shifts if they have to work. While this intense need to help is understandable, it can also be overwhelming. Be sure to communicate what you need and want in the moment so that your significant other can channel their energy into something that is productive not only to help them cope, but to assist you in the moment.