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April 6, 2005

For better, for worse: Breast cancer brings a whole set of emotional problems to a relationship

Topics: Coping with cancer

Although both breast cancer patients and their spouses learn early just how taxing cancer can be on the emotional health of both of them, few spouses are prepared to deal with watching a loved one face off against a life-threatening disease. Like the patients, spouses can go through denial, experience depression, bargaining, and anger on the way to eventual acceptance that they play an essential role in helping their partners beat a terrifying disease. But eventually they learn that it's a journey that they must take together.

However, the journey can be especially challenging for spouses of breast cancer patients, who are most often men. Husbands often have to adjust to being a caregiver, something that can be especially difficult if they are shouldering a lot of responsibility without an outlet to talk about it. Often, spouses experience a sense of isolation, because necessarily, everything is focused on the disease. Fortunately, breast cancer husbands have been receiving more attention recently, and men are learning that it's a two-part healing process. Gradually, together, the focus can change from survival to healing and as a result of the process, many relationships are made stronger.

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Cross posted at Hyscience

Posted by Richard at April 6, 2005 8:19 AM

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