Couples Coping with Cancer

//Couples Coping with Cancer

Welcome to the 62nd episode of The Couples Expert Podcast: Couples Coping with Cancer

One of the most devastating events that can occur in a relationship is to receive a diagnosis of cancer. For both patient and partner, the fears and worries of what is to come can be overwhelming. And talking about those fears and worries, having those open discussions, can be tremendously difficult. It’s hard to know what to say to someone who is facing death. It’s hard to express our own feelings and to allow the cancer patient to express theirs without responding with forced encouraging words. It would be easier, we think, to put up a big comfortable shield, to pretend that everything will be okay, even though inside we might know differently.

…each partner is trying to protect the other, trying to have a brave face, trying to be the cheerleader, and avoiding talking about the fears that they each have. There’s this elephant in the room and they both know it’s there, but no one is talking at all about it.

Join Stuart and Wanda as they talk very frankly and honestly about the effects that a diagnosis of cancer can have on a relationship, the difficulty that a couple can have to stay present and connected, and some of the ways in which they can help each other to make the experience easier. Join them as they talk about why it is so important to open the lines of communication and about how people in a relationship may be affected differently, depending on where they are in their relationship at the time of the diagnosis.

It can either be the catalyst that brings them closer together, especially if they have the benefit of wise counsel, or it can be the catalyst that totally explodes the relationship.

As human beings, we are not meant to be alone. In times of catastrophic events or natural disasters, we band together and are able to demonstrate a depth of caring and connection with one another that surpasses anything we could imagine on a day-to-day basis. In the face of death, when we are afraid and when we feel lost, if we have the courage to reach out, we can find friendship and solace. So with a couple presented with cancer, being vulnerable and authentic becomes so important. It becomes vital to talk and to share feelings and worries, and to let one another know how much they mean to each other, so that both patient and partner can survive their final journey with sweetness and with love.

We carry those [positive thoughts] in our hearts, and to hold onto those and not to share them when the sharing would help the other person know how cherished they were, to know that they were important to us, to know that they were a top priority to us, to help them feel special, is a sad thought.

Clarification regarding genomic sequencing as discussed in the podcast:
We can now sequence someone’s cancer cells to determine their specific genetic mutations. With knowledge of the specific mutation, we can choose the most effective drug protocol based on how people with the same genetic mutation have responded to various treatment protocols.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • About how to communicate effectively and empathetically with someone who has been diagnosed with cancer;
  • How important it is to do your own research in order to be able to take control of the situation without relying completely on the medical community;
  • A bit about the exciting advancements in cancer treatment in just the last few years;
  • That love and connection can actually change a person’s physiology and boost their immune system;
  • And about how important it is not to avoid the tough or the vulnerable conversations as these will actually make for an easier and more loving transition.

Wanda Garner, MS, MA
Strong Connections

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