Breast cancer is life-changing, so knowing how to support your spouse with breast cancer is crucial to their recovery. Taking proactive steps to comfort and support your spouse during their journey with breast cancer is key to maintaining a healthy relationship. However, the impact of breast cancer and marriage can leave partners feeling strained and unsure how to help.
Breast Cancer and Marriage: What Are the Effects of Breast Cancer on Your Spouse?
The effects of breast cancer are threefold: physical, spiritual, and emotional. Understanding these changes is essential to offering your spouse effective breast cancer emotional support.
Physical Effects of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer treatment changes a woman’s body immensely. Treatment can leave your spouse with intense fatigue, hair loss, decreased appetite, nausea and vomiting, pain, and more. If surgery is a part of their recovery plan, whether a tumor resection or mastectomy, your spouse will have to manage post-operative pain and recovery.
Spirituality and Breast Cancer
Breast cancer can have an effect on a woman’s spirituality as well. Your spouse may be feeling hopeless, withdraw from attending religious services for a period of time, or need the guidance of a spiritual mentor.
The Impact of Breast Cancer on Emotions
Breast cancer also has a significant impact on a woman’s emotions. Breast cancer raises many concerns, such as telling family members or affording treatment. As such, your spouse may feel an array of emotions, such as depression, sadness, anxiety, fear, or anger.
What Can You Do to Help Your Spouse Through Breast Cancer?
With a better understanding of how breast cancer affects your spouse, here are some practical ways to show breast cancer emotional support.
Lend a Helping Hand
Your spouse may be unable to run needed errands or do household chores like before. These changes are hard on your spouse, so offer a helping hand wherever possible, like cooking dinner or taking the kids to school.
Respect Boundaries and Listen
Your spouse may not want to talk about their emotions yet, so respecting their boundaries is important. They may need some time to process their diagnosis and the emotions they may be feeling. If they ask for some space, give it to them as they need. However, if they choose to discuss their emotions with you, listen carefully instead of offering solutions.
Show Your Love
Intimacy can suffer when it comes to breast cancer and marriage. Show your spouse that you care in ways that they best reciprocate love. If they enjoy quality time, plan a date night by cooking their favorite meal and watching a movie at home. They may feel loved through gifts, so consider surprising them with their favorite book, a sweet treat, or a thoughtful note.
Attend Doctors Appointments
Your spouse will attend countless meetings with different doctors during breast cancer treatment. Attend doctor’s appointments if you are able. Your presence will provide your spouse with much-needed comfort during these appointments.
Join A Breast Cancer Support Group
It is hard to understand the complexities of breast cancer if you have never walked through it. Your spouse may benefit from being in a community of women with breast cancer. Suggest joining a breast cancer support group for your spouse. If they are intimidated by attending a group on their own, offer to go with them for support.
Supporting Your Spouse Through Breast Cancer
Breast cancer can put a strain on marriages. However, having a thorough understanding of how breast cancer impacts your spouse and what you can do to help can alleviate some of the stress. If you and your spouse are interested in joining a breast cancer support group, please reach out to us at Project31. We have monthly support groups and events throughout the year to foster a supportive community for breast cancer survivors and their families. We would love to see you there.
If you would like to contribute to Project31 financially, please donate here.