25 February 2022

How Can You Support Your Wife Who Has Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer among women. And although men can also get breast cancer, in Singapore, only about 1 out of 1000 people diagnosed with the disease are men. Women ages 40-44 should schedule an early breast cancer screening as soon as possible to be safe. Ask your gynae about the different types of breast cancer screening if you or someone you know has suspicious breast lumps.

Naturally, if your wife or partner is diagnosed with breast cancer, you can expect many changes to occur in your home life. For instance, most severe breast cancer cases often lead to a mastectomy. This could prompt women to feel insecure about their bodies. In addition, chemotherapy and other treatments may also come with physical, mental, and emotional side effects. This is why getting a breast cancer screening should be a priority for women over 40 to avoid late diagnosis.

During this difficult time in your partner’s life, constantly reminding them that they are not going through the process alone is one of the best things you could do.

Receiving life-changing diagnoses such as these could come as a shock to the whole family; if your spouse is having a hard time, surely you must be too. However, if you are unsure about how you can offer support and approach the situation, here are a few tips to help you out:

  • Pay attention during doctor visits 

An overload of information may be overwhelming for cancer patients. Doctors will lay out all the possible options, treatments, medication, etc. While getting diagnosed in itself may come as a shock already, imagine being forced to listen to all the medical terms during checkups. Part of your job will be to take in all this information on your partner’s behalf. Decision-making will also be a regular part of this scary journey, so make sure to absorb doctors’ advice and requests.

  • Provide help when she experiences fatigue 

Apart from the massive emotional toll that cancer can bring, physical fatigue is also part of the illness. Some patients even require daily tests and monitoring. Your partner will inevitably feel weak and exhausted most days, and it would be a good idea for you to help doing simple to difficult tasks.

  • Do not label or ignore side-effects 

Ignoring a problem would not make it go away, let alone medical-related side-effects. For example, some days, your partner may seem moody and overly sensitive; this is normal. Acknowledge your partner’s emotions but never label these moments because your partner might make it seem as though you are invalidating her feelings.

For instance, when your partner is lashing out, simply saying that she is in a “bad mood” may seem insensitive. During cancer treatments, expect your partner’s emotions to be all over the place. Fear, anger, depression, and stress are what they are probably feeling, sometimes all at the same time. Labeling this as a “bad mood” may seem like you are downplaying her condition. Similarly, saying things like “don’t worry” or “you’ll be fine” may not be as motivating as you think.

  • Do not force her into sexual intimacy 

You may think that wanting to have sexual intimacy with a partner who is going through a difficult health problem is flattering for them, but in most cases, it is quite the opposite. You may notice that your partner may avoid such intimacy with you and you should not try to force her. Instead, redefine intimacy; intimacy does not always mean sex. A warm embrace or a comforting cuddle would be very satisfying for your partner.

  • Always communicate 

You are only human; having a partner may be in constant pain physically and emotionally will be hard on you too. The thought of possibly losing someone you love dearly could strike fear on even the toughest men. Some even feel an overwhelming sense of inadequacy and helplessness. In times like these, it is important to communicate with your partner. Let her know that you are feeling the same things she is feeling. But it would be best if you also let her know that you will be her support whenever she needs something to hold on to. Help each other out. No matter what happens, you are in this together.

Conclusion

As much as you want to take care of your partner and make her feel that she is the number 1 priority, it will not be easy. Especially for couples with children, do not forget to take care of your family as a whole as well. Each family member may not seem emotionally stable all the time, but never let them feel like they matter less than your partner. Just be there in any way that you can.

A gynecology clinic can provide counsel to couples and families going through life-changing situations like dealing with a cancer patient. If you feel like you require professional advice, do not hesitate to contact your trusted gynae.