How to Help Your Partner Deal with a Cancer Diagnosis
Perhaps you're reading this because your partner has been diagnosed with cancer. For that, we salute you. It's admirable that you're taking the time to educate yourself about your partner's diagnosis, and about the physical and emotional fallout they will inevitably experience.
But what's even more important is asking yourself: What can I do?
When someone is presented with a cancer diagnosis, they often run through a gamut of conflicting feelings. One feeling is the fear of death. Another feeling is frustration, stemming from the belief that they are losing control... over both their health and their life. Finally, depending upon the type of cancer, your partner may feel betrayed by his or her body, and may even feel that they have lost their femininity or masculinity.
Knowing all of this, you should seek to control your own anger, frustration, and sadness, have patience, and just try to be there for your partner.
How? Help your partner regain a feeling of normalcy. Because of the loss of control they're experiencing, it can be beneficial to let them do as much for themselves as they can. They'll appreciate knowing that their cancer diagnosis has not robbed them of their independence. Also, don't force them to talk about their feelings before they're ready, tell them to "cheer up!" (so annoying), or jump through hoops to entertain them. Just be there for them, and follow their cues. If they want to talk, listen. If they crave alone time, do restrain yourself from hovering.
Eventually, they will be ready to talk about their diagnosis and their symptoms, their feelings and -- in due time --your sex life! When they are, don't guide the conversation too much. Ask lots of questions, and listen, listen, listen!
And don't let your relationship fall by the wayside. Show your partner continued affection. They may be feeling insecure about their body, and wondering whether or not you're still attracted to them. You're probably worried about pushing them toward intimacy too soon. They're probably wondering why you haven't made a pass at them in weeks. There's nothing wrong with a good, old-fashioned seduction at a time like this, especially if it ends in full-body orgasms for the both of you. As soon as you can, go back to having sex regularly, and aim to eventually have it at least once a week. Engaging in sex this regularly increases the production of testosterone in your system, which in turn will increase your libido levels. It's a win-win!
And in addition to straight-up affection, start dating again. Spend some fun, quality time together, and keep the conversation cancer-free. If you find that the two of you are struggling with your romantic connection, or with your sex life, be open to seeking out the help of a marriage counselor or sex therapist.
As far as the cancer-related logistics go, do be hands on and participative when it comes to doctor appointments, treatments, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Take the lead in finding the best physicians -- and treatment -- for your partner, doing research, asking all the right questions, and helping to make and keep track of appointments. Encourage your partner to be honest about their symptoms and, if they won't, talk to their physician yourself. Maintain patience, no matter how confused or helpless you feel. And above all, become an active participant in their care.