This holiday season, I have learned how to be thankful for my spouse. (And trust me - there was a time when I was a pretty lousy wife.)
I've been focusing on ways to improve my marriage, strengthen our bond, and make sure my husband knows that I appreciate his efforts.
Changing my thinking and focusing on the positive aspects of marriage has helped me to cultivate a new attitude of gratitude - and it looks like I may have one more very important reason to be thankful for my marriage.
Marriage just might be one of the keys to beating cancer.
In an article for the Journal of Clinical Oncology earlier this month titled, "Marriage as Protective as Chemotherapy in Cancer Care," Dr. David W. Kissane explained just how important that lifelong bond can be for patients facing the cancer diagnosis.
The article cited "noteworthy findings…which suggest that being single, separated, divorced, or widowed significantly increases the risk of oncologic presentation with already metastatic cancer, reduced adherence to state-of-the-art treatment, and greater likelihood of earlier death from this cancer."
So while the lack of a partner leads to significantly negative outcomes for cancer patients, what benefits can a married cancer patient expect?
"Strikingly, the benefits of marriage are comparable to or greater than anticancer treatment with chemotherapy," the article states.
The secret to the marital impact on cancer treatment, however, has more to do with the commitment and support levels that a spouse provides, rather than simply being able to claim a "Mr." or a "Mrs." on all those healthcare forms.
Sharing grief, having a support system in place at home and through treatment, and the ability to connect emotionally with others during the course of cancer are the real keys to beating the odds - and in general those aspects can all be found through the support of a marital partner.
Married persons are also less likely to be prone to stress and depression, both culprits in the healing process. Stress and depression both lower the body's ability to fight cancer, so marriage provides a built-in protection to help ward of those ailments.
For those who aren't married, the key to remember is that beating cancer is about sharing the experience with someone - spouse or otherwise, receiving physical, emotional, and spiritual support - and connecting with others.
The news comes as hope and encouragement to those who are fighting cancer to lean on the loved ones in their lives, as well as for those who have loved ones currently battling cancer, because now, more than ever,
Your love could be life-saving.
-By Chaunie Brusie
For how to survive the 7 stages of marriage, visit Babble!
MORE ON BABBLE
15 ways women are ruining their sex lives
25 ways to act like you love your spouse
9 things to NEVER let your husband see you do
Image via j & j brusie photography