Advice for Spouses and Partners
The wives, partners and significant others of men diagnosed with prostate cancer are typically actively involved in the care of their partners and also in decision-making about treatment. They have a significant role and are an important source of support for the patient.
They often keep track of medical information and treatment appointments and bear the responsibility for the patient’s happiness, such as making sure he is doing OK. This is a big responsibility, and they take it willingly, but they need some support themselves. For example, the majority of people with a partner facing prostate cancer will face challenging emotional turmoil themselves, and they are in need of support and strategies to help them cope.
A support group can help the partners of men with prostate cancer learn how to deal with changes in their partners, which may include fluctuating moods, symptoms of depression, and anger.
Partners of men with prostate cancer may also face issues such as a partner who is not following his doctor’s treatment recommendations, or the question of what to tell children and grandchildren about the illness.
And, of course, partners need to remember to take care of themselves, which includes dealing with their own fears and insecurities surrounding their partner’s cancer. They may find themselves experiencing excessive worrying, frustration, sadness, tiredness and anger.
Caregivers need to watch for signs that they are focusing too much on their partner’s well-being and neglecting themselves or other members of the family.
A support group for spouses can help. Come each Wednesday of the month, from 1:15 to 2:15 p.m., on the third floor of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance clinic in room 3102.