Advice for couples coping with cancer

Once you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, it changes you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually — and it’s not just you. Cancer changes the people around you as well.
For a relationship to survive a partner’s cancer diagnosis, it must evolve to meet the varying needs that a cancer journey requires. Not all relationships survive the pressure, stress and trauma that cancer can bring, but the possibility of the struggling bringing a couple closer than ever exists as well.
The wisdom that a cancer patient gains during treatment is about more than just their disease. So for Valentine’s Day, we asked our Facebook community to share their best advice for couples coping with cancer.
Here are the most inspiring, thoughtful and honest answers we received.

Communicate openly

Share everything. It is the only way to understand what is going on with your loved one. My spouse was with me from the initial diagnosis and never failed me through all of the battles, setbacks, anger, laughter, pain and suffering. They never missed a doctor’s appointment, a chemo treatment or anything on our way to beat cancer.

Be honest about your feelings

Don't be afraid to cry or be ticked off, don't expect anyone else to understand, don't get upset when people offer thoughts on how to cope, they have no idea what you’re going through. It's a long and lonely road that the two of you must navigate together with all the love you can muster!

Practice self-care

Besides a close relationship, make sure, as the spouse, you take care of yourself so you don’t crash. You will be more clear of thought and able to help with decisions. Even if it’s a walk outside or hopefully to sleep in your own bed, take a bath and get back somewhat refreshed. You can call the nurse’s station for updates until you return. They will also call you if needed. I did this and found it necessary for my own sanity and your spouse will feel relieved seeing you refreshed.

Offer support

Be strong for each other. Both being the patient and caregiver is hard. Be kind and patient with each other. Take breaks from each other if you can, even an hour here or there. You can do this, together.

Ask for help

Don't be afraid to accept the help given by friends. When I couldn't stay any longer at the hospital, a dear friend would come in and stay until midnight.

Remember to laugh

Support, have humor in most situations, communication and above all, tell each other you love each other every day, every hour, whatever you feel like.