Partners of seriously ill patients are now recognized as "cosurvivors." The experts share a few tips on how partners can maintain their own strength:
The Couples' Survival Guide
Find a Confidant
Marc Silver, author of Breast Cancer Husband, says that after his wife's 2001 diagnosis, regular phone calls from a cousin whose wife had survived cancer allowed him to express his fears and still remain positive for his wife.
Maintain a Sense of Normalcy
"Keep as many good moments as you can," suggests psycho-oncologist Jimmie Holland, MD. Make time for date nights, physical intimacy (when possible), and conversation—the same things that helped you connect prediagnosis.
Break The Problem Into Segments
"If you say, 'How am I going to care for my wife?' that's overwhelming," says social worker Louise Knight. "'Who's going to drive her to chemo while I'm at work?' is more manageable. Start with just a sliver of the pie."
"Couples who infuse humor into the way they process things find it to be a very helpful coping mechanism," says Elizabeth Crabtree-Hartman, MD, who treats patients at UCSF Multiple Sclerosis Center. "It tends to be a good stress reliever."
We Hear You!