A Young Husband and Wife Offer Their Tried and True Tips to Other Couples Battling Cancer

By Samantha and Kyle Stephenson

Living with cancer is one of the hardest things a person may face in his or her lifetime. Cancer patients battle not only the disease and its side effects from treatment, but also the fears, doubts and concerns that can creep into their relationships. Samantha and Kyle Stephenson, a couple from Racine, Wis. who met on a Christian dating site, remained strong in their relationship when faced with cancer, and want to encourage other couples facing the same fight.

In June 2014, Samantha wasn’t too worried when she found a lump in her breast. After all, she was only 28 years old. But after undergoing surgery to have the lump removed, she received a shocking diagnosis – Samantha had stage II breast cancer. That did not prompt a flicker of doubt, however, for her boyfriend and soul mate, Kyle, who — unbeknownst to his girlfriend — already was planning to propose. A month later, and only a week after beginning chemotherapy, Samantha and Kyle exchanged vows.

For Kyle and Samantha, their “in sickness and in health” vows were tested early in their relationship and Kyle, being brought up in a Christian home, knew he needed to support his wife’s struggle. Along with the encouragement of her family and friends, Samantha said her husband’s commitment helped her focus on making it through each day. “Cancer has been an interesting journey,” she said. “Kyle has been with me through the whole thing. He’s real with me. We can cry together, be scared and still support one another. I don’t know if I could have done this without him.”

On this Valentine’s Day, Kyle and Samantha offer the below tips to other couples facing cancer or other health challenges:

· Rely on your faith. For us, the strongest foundation that we had was our belief in God. Faith gives you a bigger perspective and helps you look towards the end result. It gives you an extra support when you are struggling.
· Lean on each other. When first diagnosed with breast cancer, there is shock. It is okay to cry together and go through the roller coaster of emotions. For the person diagnosed, share what medical information you are getting. Allow your partner to have the full details and support you.
· Settle your soul. Sometimes it can be difficult to talk with family members about your situation. Talking to a professional who is unbiased can reinforce that what you are feeling is natural.
· Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Friends and family members want to offer support. Be comfortable asking and receiving help.
· Never forget why you fell in love in the first place. A cancer diagnosis shouldn’t define you as your partner still has the same qualities that you fell in love. Cancer isn’t a death sentence; there are good treatment options.

According to Michael Uhl, MA, MDiv, LMFT, licensed marriage/family counselor and mind-body therapist at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® at Midwestern Regional Medical Center in suburban Chicago, where Samantha was treated, “There is a great story to tell here. From what I have seen, the vast majority of couples stay together if they are willing to work together,” said Uhl. “When you look at a crisis moment in a relationship or marriage, such as cancer, it can be compared to the heat in a welding torch. With the heat, you can either cut a piece of metal apart or bind two pieces together.” This is what Samantha and Kyle succeeded in doing. Today, Samantha has no evidence of breast cancer, and she and Kyle are celebrating a year of being completed with treatment this Valentine’s Day, as well as over a year of marriage.