Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dual Diagnosis Couples

From a recent New York Times article by Tara Parker-Pope: A Couple’s Knot, Tied Tighter by Dual Diagnoses.

"....On Valentine’s Day, he learned he had Stage 3 rectal cancer..."

"Her doctor had only recently ordered a mammogram after Ms. Bond had found a lump in her breast, but it had to be delayed for a few weeks so she could wean Sadie from breast-feeding. Because she had a history of cysts, she wasn’t worried. Yet within a week of the diagnosis she learned that the cancer was Stage 4, the most advanced: it had already spread to the liver, pelvic bones and spine...."

"Having a spouse with a life-threatening illness is hard enough. But what happens when both partners get sick?"

“Our lives are not tragic,” Ms. Bond said. “We’ve always felt blessed and happy. It’s hard to take that away even in the face of something scary and seemingly insurmountable.”

"Elisa and Nathan both had similar reactions to the dual diagnoses. They didn’t immediately worry about themselves, but both worried about how they could take care of each other."

"Even so, they both say that having cancer together gives each of them unique insight into the other’s needs and challenges, and has surprisingly allowed them to spend more time with each other."

“If you’re going to be sick in bed, at least the person who is next to you is a person you enjoy being with,” Elisa said. “It’s a small thing, but it helps.”

"The shared experience helps them focus on the importance of keeping life as normal as possible."


I am continually amazed at people's ability to cope, endure, and even grow closer under the hardest of circumstances. I know having one partner in the couple be ill can be so difficult. The situation described in the article sounds overwhelming (and at times I bet it is), yet this couple copes.

Are you in a relationship in which both partners have a serious health condition? What is that like for you? How do you negotiate dealing with daily practical demands; and how do you deal with providing each other with support when you're both feeling the strains of illness?

1 comment:

HealingWell said...

Wow, I can't imagine both my wife and I struggling with chronic illness. This is an eye opener for sure. Thanks for this. ~ Peter