Is It Possible That My Partner Is Having Difficulty Dealing With the Breast Cancer Experience, But Is Coping Privately?

Question: Is it possible that my partner is having difficulty dealing with the breast cancer experience, but is coping privately?

Answer: Many times in families, members of the family will feel that it's important to keep an optimistic face, in terms of dealing with the patient, while maintaining a very fearful kind of approach to the situation in private. Expect that people will be showing perhaps a different aspect of their coping to you and also to other members of the family and to their friends. This is, again, a natural part of the process of the family's adjustment to this new stressor. The stress associated with a diagnosis and treatment of cancer -- I tell families quite openly -- I think is one of the most difficult stressors that a family can move through. It will affect people differently and in different ways. And I think the key to, in the end, coming through this difficult time is to keep communication open and keep support open, and allow people some degree of privacy in their response at first, moving towards more openness and more open discussion of their fears and concerns.

Michael Zevon, MD

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