When an individual is diagnosed with cancer, it is often one of the most challenging moments for their partner. All of a sudden, life takes a dramatic shift – and our roles as partners redefine as well. Usually we become the primary caregiver –counsellors, nurses, and spiritual guides, and the truth is, not many of us are equipped to take on this responsibility without some guidance.
One of the toughest parts of the journey is the initial diagnosis, when stress and depression often hit the patient and loved ones in equal measure. The key is to become future-thinking, and try to replace the feelings of dread and uncertainty with a more positive perspective – that this diagnosis is likely just a tap on the shoulder to encourage a personal transformation. Stress will only lead to a decreased immune system, so do what it takes to keep it under control. We recommend meditation and mindfulness – especially around the impact of our words.
In many medical settings there are words used like “terminal” or “incurable” which are not helpful to anyone trying to heal. Be self-aware in how you phrase explanations about your loved one’s diagnosis. Not just in front of them, but for your own sanity. The power of our words have exceptional and far reaching impacts, and learning to replace medical terminology with more positive and uplifting descriptions is a big step forward in changing mindsets.
Support your partner by adapting to the same new healthful lifestyle and dietary changes. There is nothing more encouraging than knowing “we are in it together,” and it will only mean a positive impact on your own health too! If you happen to smoke cigarettes, quit immediately – second hand smoke can also promote tumour necrosis. If your partner embarks on a juice fast, join them! Actually feeling the same changes in the body is one of the better ways to understand them. Do some raw food workshops, read the recommended literature on health and the body. Become a source of information and encouragement – leading by example also helps your partner to feel that he or she is not being “told” what to do.
An aspect that so often comes up is the “fix it vs. understand it” mentality. When we ask loved ones how they feel about a cancer diagnosis, the word we hear the most is helpless. This feeling can spark a variety of very understandable reactions – one of the most common is trying to control the process in order to reclaim the health of your partner as soon as possible. Sometimes it is forgotten that it takes quite some time to build up an environment in which cancer will thrive in our bodies. Conversely, reversing things and changing our body’s biochemistry with a variety of things such as detoxification, emotional and stress related healing, metabolic and immune therapies takes time – and it is a delicate balance which must be lead by a team of professional and like-minded people. Whilst we encourage everyone to question everything – especially in the sense that it enhances understanding and engaging in the treatment program; at some point we also need to surrender and stop trying to control healing – accepting that our bodies heal at their own pace.
Finally, remember to have fun. The experience of cancer is draining, overwhelming and sad. Whilst healing takes hard work, life cannot be one dimensional. Often, we see improvements in patients who plan a day or two away from treatment to enjoy each other’s company, and completely get their mind off the job at hand. The saying, “laughter is the best medicine” is also true. Try to find light in each experience, and keep smiling. Though a difficult experience, there is always so much to be grateful and thankful for – tell your partner that seeing him/her smile at you reminds you of why you fell in love. Remind them that this is just a chapter in your journeys together, not the whole story – and stop to admire your strength and commitment to each other.