By Adrianna Holness and Jessica Borelli, posted Dec 9, 2015

Adrianna Holness is a fifth-year doctoral student in Loma Linda’s clinical psychology program. Jessica Borelli, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Pomona College; together, this team is spearheading the project described below and has asked for Adventist Today’s help in getting the word out.

Like many of our readers, their lives have been impacted by the loss of loved ones to cancer. By asking you to share your experience, they are hoping to improve the care that patients’ partners receive.

What we know:

Within the United States, cancer has become a household term. It may affect one’s grandmother, uncle, best friend, partner or even oneself. Cancer is a community disease that affects not just patients, but also their friends and families. Once the initial shock of the diagnosis has settled in, patients and their families are faced with feelings of anxiety, lack of control and the fear of potential loss.

Cancer can be especially frightening for couples. Although only one member of the couple endures the physical burden of cancer, both the patient and their partner experience stress in response to the diagnosis. Research suggests that patients’ partners are at a heightened risk for developing clinical levels of depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, while resources are readily available for patients, many hospitals and medical centers do not provide services for the partners.

What we don’t know:

While we know that both patients and their partners are negatively impacted by the diagnosis and progression of cancer, we don’t know how patients’ partners cope with these changes. By answering these questions, we can learn how to develop resources and tools for the partners of cancer patients.

Why we care:

Partners are integral not only to the emotional well-being of patients, but also to their physical recovery. The best way to say thank you for their support is by caring for the partners.

How you can help:

We are beginning a research project to improve our understanding of how to support partners of cancer patients. If you know the partner of a cancer patient, please share this article with them.

Participants will complete a survey that should take about one hour. As a thank you, we will enter participants into a raffle to win one of ten $50 gift cards.

You can find the survey here. There is also a link available on Facebook.

This project involves three institutional and medical partners: Loma Linda University, Pomona College, and City of Hope.

If you work with cancer patients, are part of a cancer support group, or just want to help spread the word, please contact Adrianna at pomonacaregiverstudy@gmail.com. She is also happy to provide free flyers or business cards to hand out.