1. Speaking up for and supporting your partner when dealing with doctors, nurses, and the hospital bureaucracy when he or she needs your help. Ask your healthcare professionals to a) limit their use of medical jargon, b) give you enough time to discuss your concerns and ask your questions, and c) explain things to you so they are perfectly clear. This new world you have found yourself a part of speaks a language you may not understand. Do not leave the hospital or doctor’s office until you understand what has been said.
2. Acting as a go-between with family and friends. Be your partner’s advocate by screening calls and visits if he or she wishes. Tell friends and family what is helpful and what is not.
3. Making a list of questions before doctors’ appointments and understanding the answers. If necessary, write down the answers for easy reference in the future. Stay organized and keep a calendar noting important dates and events.
4. Accessing useful information about the diagnosis and treatment process. You and your partner will likely access the Internet for information. While there are many useful sites, there is also a great deal of inaccurate and out-of-date information that may both misinform and frighten you. Be cautious when you visit a website; make sure the source is reliable. You are unique, so avoid trying to compare your story to someone else’s experience.