Cancer Lessons from a Five-Time Survivor: Cancer Support for Family Members

Kim Potts shares some advice based on her experience as a spouse of a five-time cancer survivor.

By Bill C. Potts

By now, you have assembled your care team, which includes the medical team as well as non-medical cancer support for family members from resources like SYNERGY HomeCare, family, friends, faith leaders, your health insurance company, therapists, and even a lawyer. This blog is dedicated to caring for your immediate family during this challenging time.

While your extended care team focuses on helping you, it is crucial as the patient to be aware of and respond to how your cancer journey impacts your spouse/partner and children. The stress on the family of a cancer patient as you fight your battle is significant. You must work to ensure they do not become collateral damage.

How to Support Your Partner

If you have a spouse or partner, ensure that they can have a life outside of supporting your cancer journey. You must support your partner with cancer care services like SYNERGY HomeCare and encourage outside mental health help if required. Frequently ask how they are doing. Listen, then provide support as needed. 

How to Support Your Children

If you have kids (including ones in college), watch them intently to see and gauge any issues as early as possible. My wife and I closely monitored our three kids’ grades in school, their performance in part-time jobs, the amount of time they spent with friends and their moods at home. We even monitored their attitudes while playing sports. We also kept a close eye on them when they left the house for college, monitoring for any changes that might highlight an issue.

Next, we listened to them, intently and intentionally. While we did not disclose too much about my cancer while they were too young to understand it, as they got older, we discussed it more.   When they were in high school, we provided full disclosure about my situation. We always honestly answered any questions they had about it.

Thirdly, we allowed them to live their own lives despite my cancer. We encouraged them to take their dream job in another city. We coached them to travel, to spend time with friends, to engage in the community and to play sports. Keeping busy helped them not only build their own life but also provided them with outlets for stress.

Most importantly, we provided our kids with outside support. All three have used professional therapists and faith leaders to guide them. It has helped immeasurably. 

As my cancer is currently incurable, we know that our children will continue to deal with the emotional burden of my health. I am grateful they can handle it well. I will continue to keep a close eye on my wife, too, to ensure she has a life outside of my cancer and the support she needs. 

You will learn a lot from my wife, Kim, in the following article, as she shares her insights about living with a spouse fighting cancer.  


Bill C. Potts is the author of “Up for the Fight: How to Advocate For Yourself as You Battle Cancer, from a Five-Time Survivor.” Bill has a wife, Kim, and three kids, Nicholas, Anna and Sarah. His dog, Pippa, is constantly by his side. Bill is an entrepreneur, IRONMAN athlete, motivational speaker, and author—more on Bill at


For more information on caring for a loved one, download SYNERGY HomeCare’s free Cancer Care guide for family caregivers.

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