Help her by helping yourself

You probably also need help and support. The following tips may be useful:

  • Ask for help if you’re overwhelmed. This isn’t a sign of weakness. It takes courage to face reality and take control of the situation. Talk to your friends and family. If they can’t relate find people who can. Find out about cancer support groups in your area. If you’re not a talker find other ways to understand what you are going through. Write them down.
  • Take time out to recharge your batteries. Look on it as ‘filling the petrol tank’ rather than trying to run on ‘empty’. Women often worry about their partner and it can be a great relief for them to see you having a break. There’s also some evidence that having some ‘normal’ things in your life helps.
  • Talking generally helps make it better, not worse. Open up the subject for discussion. Talk about thoughts, feelings and fears. Some people feel uncomfortable broaching the subject. Bring it up with them. Let them know you need to talk about it. Acknowledge the impact this has on your life.
  • Active coping not positive ignorance. You may worry that if you are not being positive and strong, she may take longer to recover. There’s no consistent evidence that this is the case. Keeping all the concerns to yourself adds to the burden. There’s also evidence that active coping (i.e. thinking things through, getting information and talking) helps, and avoidance of issues is associated with more distress.
  • Monitor your relationship. Acknowledge the difficulties you’re facing. If you were having problems with your relationship before, they will be magnified by the stress you’re now under. The same goes for work or social problems. Issues don’t disappear with diagnosis. Be as active (not passive) in thinking through and solving problems as you can. When in doubt – get a second opinion.