A study found that when one partner in a relationship is diagnosed with cancer, the physical and emotional health of the other partner seems to strongly affect how the first partner handles diagnosis and treatment.
The study only looked at male-female relationships, so it's not clear if these results would apply to same-sex couples.
The researchers found differences in the way men and women affect each other.
Whether a woman has been diagnosed with breast cancer or is the partner of a man diagnosed with prostate cancer, the man's physical health (as opposed to his emotional health) affected the woman's emotional health more. This may be because women may get the emotional support they need from other women, so the man's emotional health may not play as big a role in her emotional health.
If a man were diagnosed with cancer, the woman's emotional health affected the man's physical health more than it did the woman's physical health. This may be because men tend to get most of their emotional support from their spouses and don't have other people to turn to. So if the woman is struggling emotionally, the man has little support.
Both being the person diagnosed with cancer AND being the partner of someone diagnosed with cancer is very difficult and stressful. A cancer diagnosis threatens the physical and emotional health of both partners.
If you've been diagnosed with breast cancer, your loved ones will be closely involved with you as you move through treatment. It's important to remember that your physical and emotional health is closely tied to the health of your loved ones. All of you have to do all that you can to stay healthy, both emotionally and physically. If you sense that your partner is struggling, ask your other loved ones and your medical team for help. Caring for someone who's caring for you is one of the best things you can do for them -- and for you.
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