No one is ever ready to hear that they have cancer. It is normal for those diagnosed with cancer to wonder why it happened to them, or to think life has treated them unfairly. One may not even believe the diagnosis, especially if you do not feel or “look” sick. Shock and grief is a normal response as one gives up their old ideas of themselves and begin to develop ways to cope with the new, unwanted changes.
However, what about the affect that life-changing diagnoses like cancer, has on the loved one of the person that has been diagnosed? In fact, many cancer patients say that the cancer battle is more difficult for their well spouse. While the cancer battle rages, the needs of that well spouse are often overlooked, and those needs are immense. When one spouse is diagnosed with cancer, the magnitude of responsibility falls heavily in the well spouse’s direction.
Comfortable and secure daily routines are muddled for everyone in the family, particularly the well spouse. Even more unsettling are the sudden, dramatic changes that occur in the couple’s relationship. In addition to role changes, the well spouse must carry the additional load of routine task that the sick spouse can no longer manage. The relational stresses that these adjustments bring can be significant, even when circumstances are ideal.
Therefore, it is not uncommon for the well spouse to feel utterly overwhelmed and very alone. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to realize that your possible feelings of inadequacy are not due to lack of character or weakness. The reality is your life as well as the diagnosed partner has taken a UN expected turn. It might take time for you to become aware of these changes and inevitable losses, but sharing your grief with those close to you or seeking a professional, could help greatly because your feelings need care too, just like your physical body needs care to properly function.