Monday, April 16, 2007

Cancer Takes Its Toll - On Spouses, Partners...

news you may not know

Wait - Let's Go

Back to Yesterday

It's 3 a.m. You should be - what? Sleeping? Sure, like you're going to be able to sleep after the news you got today. Things were looking good and, well - today's scan just blew your life apart all over again.

News like this sets you back on your heels in a hurry. All the indications were positive. Tumor size was down, no detectible spread, blood counts and other labs strong. How can it be? Forty-two years old, always active. Shoot - if anything, somewhat over the top when it comes to health, diet, exercise. It just makes no sense.

And, now - you may lose him...

This is the often silent torment of those whose spouses are affected by cancer. Not only do the partners of cancer sufferers experience the agony of each bit of bad news, they often do so without adequate support.

Researchers at the University of Florida, Gainesville report the spouses of cancer sufferers are 3.5 mores likely to suffer from clinical depression than people without a sick relative. Their study indicates the partners suffer similar levels of emotional distress as the cancer patients. In addition, in a surprising finding, it's the partners who pay the highest social costs over the long-term.

The discrepancies may be attributable to two key aspects of cancer treatment. First, patients who suffer from depression are quickly offered assistance through a variety of social service networks within the health care system. Second, the short, intermediate and long-term burden of caring for the cancer patient falls squarely on the shoulders of the patient's partner. As the hospitals streamline treatments to send patients home quickly, spouses are relied upon to provide nursing care, emotional and financial support, handle childrearing responsibilities, watch over...

Well, it's a long list of responsibilities for which partners suddenly find themselves solely responsible.

This is the first study to assess the long-term impact on family and friends of cancer patients. The results indicate that much more attention needs to be given to establishing support mechanisms for the spouses and partners.

To read more about the study, see this from ScienceDaily. To read more about coping with cancer, including the ways in which cancer affects family and friends, see this from People Living With Cancer.


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