Supporting a Partner - Lets Fuck Cancer

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A caregiver’s guide to

Supporting a Partner

When your partner is diagnosed with cancer, it can feel like your world is crashing down. Supporting someone you love so deeply while they go through cancer is challenging. We’ve got your back, so you can have theirs.

Caregiving at Home

With more and more medical advancements, cancer care is transitioning away from medical facilities and into the home. This means that you, and anyone else who lives with you, may be responsible for both medical and non-medical daily needs.

Identify yourself

Make sure your partner’s medical team knows who you are and your relationship.

Complete the paperwork

Your partner should complete any necessary medical, insurance, or legal paperwork to allow you to make decisions on their behalf, if necessary.

Track information

Keep track of your partner’s appointments, medications, and treatment progress, as well as any social engagements.

Address finances

Cancer is expensive. Ask your insurance company for a case manager and help managing costs, and keep a record of costs, payments, and conversations.

Learn the ropes

Learn how to provide appropriate physical and medical care at home, including medications, symptoms, and side effects. If you see anything concerning, contact your partner’s medical team.

Ask for help

You need your own support system to lean on while your partner leans on you. Figure out who your team is before things get too overwhelming.

Get outside assistance

Consider hiring a professional home care service to provide your partner with medical care and other assistance, so you can focus solely on your relationship.

Things to Keep in Mind

When it comes to supporting your partner, you know them best. Every relationship is unique, so do what feels right for you.

Keep it simple

The little things are often the most meaningful. Just sitting with your partner or watching a movie with them can mean the world when they’re going through it.

Prepare yourself

Try to process your own feelings before discussing them with your partner. They’re going through enough already, they don’t need to take on the burden of processing your feelings too. Learn more here.

They’re not just a cancer patient

Your partner is still the same person they’ve always been. Don’t forget to talk to them about all the interests and passions you share.

Consider their perspective

While you should never assume you know what they’re going through, consider what your partner might be feeling and things you can do to help. This will make you more empathetic when you talk to them.

What to Say

When your loved one is first diagnosed with cancer, it can feel scary and overwhelming. You may draw blanks when you try to think of how to start a conversation with them, but just remember, your partner is still the same person you know and love. Saying something is better than staying silent and pretending it’s not happening.

“I’m sorry this is happening.”
“I love you and am here for you.”
“Whenever you want to talk, I’m here.”
“You’re my best friend. Always have been, always will be.”
“Fuck Cancer!”

Starting a conversation is the hardest part. But once you get the ball rolling, it’ll be easier to talk about the cancer elephant in the room. Practice makes perfect.

How to Help

You’re the expert in how to best support your partner. You know how they take their coffee, where they store the extra toilet paper, and their guilty pleasure TV show. Rely on your insider info of your partner to best support them. But if you need a few tips, we’ve got you covered.

Check in

Whether you have a standing date to discuss feelings or just talk about them as they come, check in with your partner so they know you care and that they can rely on you.

Be flexible

Make plans that can easily be changed and try to remain understanding if your partner needs to adjust the plan. Living with cancer means dealing with unexpected health changes.

Take cues

Follow your partner’s lead about discussing certain topics or their energy for certain activities.

Respect their decisions

Your partner’s health is their own. While they’ll likely ask for your opinion because they love and respect you, don’t try to pressure them into any decisions related to their cancer or treatment options.

Have fun

Don’t forget to laugh and have fun with your partner just like usual. Even with cancer, there’s still space for joy.

Acknowledge sadness

It’s easy to want to avoid sadness or talking about heavy topics with your partner, but it’s important not to ignore uncomfortable topics or feelings.

Follow through

If you tell your partner you’ll do something, follow through with that promise.

Talk about other things

Don’t forget to talk about other topics besides cancer. You can make plans for the future that you can both look forward to.

Gift Ideas

If your love language is gift giving, here are a few ideas that your partner might appreciate and use while they’re going through cancer.

Gift certificate

Food delivery, cleaning service, task rabbit, grocery store, or a massage

Things to read

Magazines, books, or audiobooks

Pictures

Your favorite memories or their favorite people and places

Activities

Crossword, sudoku, or puzzles

Crafts

Coloring books, needlepoint kits, or other creative outlets

Writing

Note cards or a journal

Something sentimental

A video message or scrapbook

Curated playlist

Music, TV shows, or movies they would like

Clothing

Something cozy or something to make them feel like themselves

Source: American Society of Clinical Oncology

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