My wife has breast cancer, how to cope with it (Attention to Men caring for women with breast cancer)

A cancer diagnosis is often a devastating event and a huge change to deal with for many people. It throws life out of balance and kickstarts a change to how things are. The effects of a cancer diagnosis are not limited to the diagnosed person as it affects the whole family as well as other loved ones, especially the lovers of affected persons. Every year, hundreds of thousands of women will be diagnosed with cancer which means that many partners will need to step up and become caregivers and be

Husbands of patients with breast cancer can experience as much or even more distress than their partners. They often have to readapt to accommodate the changes their partners are going through and have to provide support for their wives physically, financially, and emotionally. They often report great levels of stress, anxiety and distress as they try to keep up with their usual lives while providing support to their loved one. They are often regarded as second-order patients as they are also affected as they seek to provide support for the patient.

Coping with this dual job of ensuring that minimal changes occur to the existing family structure (e.g. caring for children, work and house chores) and the best care is provided to their wives (e.g. with appointments, eating, dressing, shopping and taking medicines) is often tasking. Some of them tend to get stretched out at the detriment of their own health while others may altogether give up one or both jobs at some point.

How To Cope

Dealing with a cancer diagnosis, the treatment journey and life after treatment in your wife or partner is a difficult task. It is however less arduous if approached the right way. The following are ways to cope when your wife or partner has a cancer diagnosis.

  1. Be prepared: It has been shown that people who have a great caregiver in their lives get through the cancer journey better than isolated patient. Make a decision to be there for your partner at all times as your support is potentially life-saving.
  2. Be informed: you should get all the information necessary on the specific cancer type, treatment plan and what to expect, including side effects of cancer treatment. This will leave you better placed to providing help for your wife as she goes through treatment. Endeavour to take notes during consultations with her managing team to get first-hand information. Ask questions when necessary.
  3. Get necessary help: While the burden of the tasks your partner handled is now in your capacity, endeavour to get all the help you can from family and friends. Talk to your employer about getting flexible hours or a review of targets and expectations.
  4. Join a support group: This is a group of people who are making the same journey and experiencing the same realities. Some of them are ahead in the journey and may offer insightful ways of coping as well as acting as an inspiration for you. You can also share your fears and worries with them.
  5. Look after yourself: Looking after your partner requires you to be in great shape as well. As such, it is important that you eat properly, get regular sleep and attend to all health concerns swiftly.

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