Being diagnosed with breast cancer is one of the most devastating experiences that women may have to go through. Cancer treatment will further put them through physical and emotional distress so that these women need all the emotional support they can get to battle this deadly disease. That is why it is no surprise to know about the latest study in the US shows that marital distress may affect the chances of women of recovering from breast cancer.
This latest research shows that marriage problems may result in lower survival rate in women with breast cancer. This report was based on data from 100 breast cancer patients who were married or living with a partner at the beginning of the study and remained in the relationship for the next five years. All of these women had high and almost equal levels of cancer-related stress at the start of the study. Seventy-two of them claimed their marriages are good while 28 claimed they’re having marriage problems. The results showed women with good marriages have lesser cancer-related stress compared to women with marital problems. Women with marital problems are found to have higher stress levels, slower recovery, lesser physical activity and more symptoms and signs of illness compared to those women with good marriages. The positive effect for women with good marriages still holds true even after the researchers adjusted the participant’s cancer stage, depression levels, cancer treatments and other factors that may influence the results. This shows that improving the quality of a relationship may also improve not only the emotional well-being but also one’s health.
“The quality of the marital relationship may not be the first thing women worry about when they get a cancer diagnosis. But it may have a significant impact on how they cope physically and emotionally,” study co-author Hae-Chung Yang, a research associate in psychology at Ohio State University, said in a university news release. “Our results suggest that the increases in stress and other problems that come with a distressed marital relationship can have real health consequences and lead to poorer recovery from cancer.”
To be fair, partners-caregivers of cancer patients are also subjected to a lot of stress in taking care of their loved ones. Depending on their coping skills, this stress can cause the strain in a relationship. That is why there are support groups out there, not only for patients but for the partners as well.
Following the saying “it takes two to tango”, it takes two to make a relationship and cancer recovery within the relationship a success.