Check out the great spouse tips featured in a recent Guideposts article, from a husband whose wife had cancer. Tailored ever so slightly, they apply to any spouse, friend or family member trying to help a loved one through a difficult illness. Johnny's going to add his two cents soon - I think he could write a book on the subject!
1) Give of your time: Whenever possible, accompany your loved one to a doctor's appointment (and treatments). Be their emotional mainstay.
2) Get ready for mood swings: Recovering from cancer (or dealing with a chronic illness) takes a staggering emotional toll. Your loved one can be hopeful one day, despondent the next. Be a steady, encouraging presence.
3) Do your homework: Learn as much as you can about your loved one's condition and be prepared to ask informed questions of doctors. It takes teamwork to stay on top of medical details.
4) Help them be healthy: Chemotherapy or drugs taken to help control a chronic illness have side effects, including loss of bone density. Learn how nutrition, exercise, and physical therapy can help, and join your loved one in those activities whenever possible.
5) Look forward, not back: Cancer, or any chronic illness, will change your loved one and, if applicable, your marriage. Life can be harder - but deeper, too. Learn to grow with the changes. There are rewards and blessings that will astonish you.
Tips adapted from In Harmony, by Amy Holland McDonald (tips from her husband, Michael)