Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes
Last Modified: May 13, 2011
I recently spoke with a woman who was stressed because her husband has cancer and he seemed to be in denial over the seriousness of his situation.
What was especially upsetting to her was that he didn't want to address any end of life issues like drafting a will.
I've been mulling this over ever since. What happens when a couple faces cancer and they aren't on the same page?
It's sometimes a matter of perspective. Is the glass half-full or half-empty? With a particular cancer, the chance of surviving might be 80 percent. On the other hand, the chance of dying is 20 percent. Different people focus on different numbers.
It can also be a function of timing. Absorbing a diagnosis of cancer doesn't happen overnight and people have to do it at their own pace. Your partner won't necessarily process the news and their accompanying emotions on your timetable.
And realize that a partner's seeming denial might be a useful coping strategy in the short-term. It's how they can get through the next few weeks without falling apart.
Here are a few recommendations:
Sometimes the person in denial is the individual with cancer. Just as often, it's the partner of the person with cancer who's the one in denial. Either way, the principles of being patient and supportive of your partner while addressing your own needs works equally well in either situation.
Bob is the Executive Director of the Cancer Resource Center. His articles about living with cancer appear regularly in the Ithaca Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Reprinted with Permission of the Ithaca Journal
Original publication date: April 9, 2011.
Sep 28, 2010 - Male partners of women with breast cancer have a significantly increased risk of an affective disorder severe enough to require hospitalization, and this risk increases with increasing severity of the cancer, according to research published online Sept. 27 in Cancer.
Mar 11, 2014 - Health care use increases in partners of cancer patients following the cancer diagnosis, according to research published online Aug. 31 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Oct 18, 2010 - Changing sexual practices, including increased oral sex, multiple sex partners, and an early start of sexual activity, are behind an epidemic of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) linked to sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV), according to an article in the November issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Mar 11, 2014 - In oncology, best supportive care studies exhibit ethical and methodological shortcomings, and systematic bias or error that may be due to ad hoc supportive care and lack of standardized delivery, according to a study published online June 29 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Dec 30, 2013 - Adults are concerned about electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use among children and express widespread support for regulation of e-cigarettes, according to a report published Dec. 18 by the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.
Jul 25, 2013 - Most adults support banning smoking in locations where children are present, including vehicles, businesses, and daycare/babysitting facilities, according to a report published by the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.
May 13, 2013 - Terminally ill patients who are well supported by religious communities use less hospice care and receive more aggressive medical interventions near death, according to a study published online May 6 in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Sep 24, 2010 - Chemotherapy, particularly modified gemcitabine and oxaliplatin, appears to be superior to best supportive care in the treatment of patients with unresectable gall bladder cancer, according to research published online Sept. 20 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Mar 11, 2014 - The finding that younger women with metastatic colorectal cancer survive longer than younger men -- which is not seen in older patients -- supports the idea that estrogen may play a role in improved outcomes in the disease, according to research published online Sept. 29 in Clinical Cancer Research.
Mar 11, 2014 - Breast cancer patients who are socially isolated may be more likely to have tumor growth as a result of the stress caused by loneliness, compared to their more socially supported counterparts, according to a study in mice published online Sept. 29 in Cancer Prevention Research.
Mar 11, 2014 - Exercise, diet and weight loss support can slow the functional decline of long-term cancer survivors, according to a study in the May 13 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Mar 11, 2014 - Evidence supports screening postmenopausal women for risk of breast cancer and the consideration of chemoprevention for women at high risk, as well as the use of lifestyle changes for cancer prevention, according to research published in the March 18 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.