‘Communication refers to the exchange of information about cancer and personal experiences (such as concerns and feelings about the illness) that occurs between cancer patients and their partners.’1

Communication between you and your partner throughout cancer survivorship is a key component in maintaining your relationship. Open communication allows partners to provide emotional support for each other, and make informed decisions together. Everyone has different styles of communication, and some individuals may not feel comfortable expressing their fears and anxieties surrounding the disease. Be open to listening to your loved one, but do not push them to talk instead be open, reassuring and supportive.2

Emotional support

During the cancer journey, patients often identify their partners as their primary caregivers and their main source of support. However, the emotional needs of the partner often go unaddressed as caregiving can be exhausting and demanding work. Seeking out assistance from a family member, friend, support group or mental health professional can give the caregiver an alternate way to voice their own thoughts and concerns.3

Communicating with primary health care providers

Here are a few tips if you are involved in the medical process of your partner’s treatments:

  • Write down any questions you have or things you would like to inquire about before the appointment.
  • Keep a folder of your partner’s health information, including a list of all the medication they take and bring it with you to the appointment. 
  • Share information with the healthcare team about any pain or side effects your partner is experiencing.
  • Takes notes during the appointment with the health care provider to help you remember information that can be important in the near future. 

To find out more about how to reach out and cooperate with your partner’s healthcare team, please visit the National Cancer Institute brochure on “Caring for the Caregiver”.

The role of family and friends

Prostate cancer predominantly affects men above the age of 70; therefore, other age-related chronic health issues may be present for both the patient and the partner. Having a support network of family, friends, or other individuals within the cancer community can ease your burden as the caregiver.

Whether it’s preparing meals, looking after children or going to an appointment, asking family or friends to help you with day-to-day activities can alleviate the emotional and physical stress you may experience during your partner’s cancer journey. It’s not selfish to ask for help when you and your partner need it; rather than struggle alone, reaching out to others makes them feel included and keeps you from becoming overwhelmed.

To view the resources cited above, please click here.


  1. Song, Lixin. “Couples’ Communication and Quality of Life during Prostate Cancer Survivorship.” Diss. U of Michigan, 2009. Couples’ Communication and Quality of Life during Prostate Cancer Survivorship. University of Michigan, 2009. Web. accessed 26 May 2014.
  2. “Nutrition, Exercise and Prostate Cancer.” Prostate Cancer Foundation. Prostate Cancer Foundation, 2009. Web. 29 May 2014.
  3. “Nutrition, Exercise and Prostate Cancer.” Prostate Cancer Foundation. Prostate Cancer Foundation, 2009. Web. 29 May 2014.