A few things I think everyone wonders when their SO is diagnosed, is how can I help? What can I do? What do they need?
If you are living with someone with cancer or a life threatening illness, just be kind. It’s amazing how deep your mind and “the unknown” can go. It’s so hard adjusting to life while battling something that you can’t be sure that you will win. We go through some terrible treatments that bring us all the way to death before we come back to life, not knowing if it will even work! With these deep feelings, emotions are flying all over. They may be very emotional: angry, sad, scared, ect. Keep this in mind and know that supporting the patient is all you can do.
Ways to support your loved one:
1. Let them know often that you are there for them, they need someone to lean on.
2. Be kind, they are going through deep emotions just like you are.
3. Find things to do together, stay attached.
4. Take them out of their “cancer bubble” whenever they are feeling up to it.
5. Hold them, hug them, love them.
It’s a very helpless feeling when your loved one is diagnosed. I have always said that I am glad it was me and not my family, because I can’t imagine how hard it is to watch helplessly. Feeling helpless sometimes leads to feeling detached. People will say “well, there’s nothing I can do”, and stop trying. Patients need to lean on as many people as they can. We need to know you are there because the stress is palpable. I could not breathe in anxiety for months after my diagnosis, it’s awful feeling trapped. It’s like looking the grim reaper right in the eye. That being said, I am an emotional mess myself. It’s hard to stay focused while living with dying. But my husband and two boys keep me going each day.
My husband has always been extremely supportive and helpful with everything, because he is proud of me and wants to see me succeed. But, when I was diagnosed in 2010, I was shaken. I had been given a little push to go to the support groups in the area. I met women that had been left by their husbands because they couldn’t handle it, or just didn’t want to deal with it. Seeing this shook me to the core, already feeling so lonely and scared. I went straight home to tell my husband that if he planned to walk out, do it now. I explained that I know this isn’t what he saw in his future, and I didn’t blame him if he did not want to stay. I was feeling inadequate and broken, like those women in the support groups, and it didn’t even happen to me. But emotions are flying for me, being 7 months postpartum, having the stress of this diagnosis, and all the while dealing with hateful family members . My husband looked at me like I was crazy and said, if I ever thought he was going anywhere, I must not know him at all. He said he could never leave me, and we would get through this together. And we have, it’s my fourth year of this battle.
So with that, our battle had begun. I had weekly treatments weakening my immune system so I couldn’t work full time anymore. Not to mention daily doctors appointments, made it difficult to be a reliable employee. I was flying 4 days a week with my career, so I had to figure out how to bring income in from home. I was already in direct sales, I continued with my business, and focused mostly online in order to work from home. I did Facebook parties while I was going through chemo, and everyone loves it. This is wonderful for me to have something to focus on, and no one has to go anywhere. My imagination soared, while keeping me positive. Making soaps and wreaths, even starting my own business as a social media consultant, with my husband supporting each step I took. He still does now, and he is my biggest fan.
We have a very full marital plate with all that normally comes with having a family, then add my health and finances. We have definitely had our ups and downs, but I can’t believe how strong he is each day. Some days I am too sick to get out of bed and he does everything for the kids and myself. He is so tired, but somehow finds more energy for us, all while finishing his degree. Our relationship can handle anything at this point, we’ve been though it all. He still makes me laugh each day after knowing him for 12 years. I know I would not have made it this far without his support and strength. He is always doing little things for me like getting a hot tea, or bringing me flowers. And he encourages the boys to make me pictures or pick flowers for me. I know I am always on his mind, which makes it so much easier to fight this fight.
Thank you again for reading, please comment about ways you like to help your SO.
Next week I will talk about Paying it forward with cancer.
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