Coping during a Loved One's Cancer Battle
- Actor Pierce Brosnan will have his first real gallery show for his paintings in 2023. The opening piece of artwork for the show was created when Brosnan was coping with his first wife’s ovarian cancer battle in 1987. Sadly, she died of the disease in 1991.
- After a partner receives a cancer diagnosis, it’s very fair to experience a wide range of emotions. So, it’s important to take care of yourself as well as your partner. You should consider joining a support group or seeing a therapist.
- Losing a spouse to cancer can cause immeasurable pain, but it’s important to try to have uncomfortable conversations with your loved one – if they’re open to it – during their cancer battle.
Brosnan met his first wife, actress Cassandra Harris, in the late ’70s, and the couple married in 1980 – the same year Brosnan debuted in film with The Long Good Friday as Irishman #1.Read More
“My late wife was in her second year of ovarian cancer,” he says of the reason he started painting during an interview with GQ. “Dealing with that disease.”
Pierce Brosnan Turns To Art
Brosnan’s painting began quite simply – with his hands.
“Carrying the weight and pain and the fear of that illness, I took out the paints. And started painting. With my fingers. With my hands, actually,” Brosnan said.
And that canvas he made back in 1987 will actually be in Brosnan’s upcoming show – his first real gallery scheduled for Spring 2023.
“That’s how we start – heavy. But beautiful, beautiful,” he said of the opening artwork created during such a difficult time.
Harris tragically passed away after facing four hard years of treatment which included eight surgeries and over a year of chemotherapy. While she was alive, Brosnan’s family consisted of two children, Charlotte and Christopher, 49, from Harris’ previous marriage, and one son Cassie and Pierce shared, Sean, 39. Devastatingly, Charlotte also lost a battle with the same disease at age 41.
Now, Brosnan is married his second wife, journalist Keely Shaye Smith, 58, and continues to paint. Sometimes, even with one of his sons, Paris, 21, that he shared with Smith. Brosnan and Smith also share a son name Dylan, 25, together.
“He just devours these canvases,” Brosnan said. “It just fills me with the greatest pride, fatherly pride, to be painting alongside him, just to be quiet in the garage or wherever we’ve painted. It’s a really beautiful experience.”
Paris and Dylan grew up watching their father make artwork on anything everything – from tablets, to shoes, to Paris’s surfboards. And now, they’re excited to see their father’s work displayed at his show in Los Angeles next year.
“He’s, like, evolving into a legit artist,” Paris said during the interview with GQ. “And taking it to the top.”
Coping When A Partner Is Diagnosed With Cancer
After a partner receives a cancer diagnosis, it’s very fair to experience a wide range of emotions. Anger, fear, sadness and anxiety are often a part of the equation, but it’s important to try to do your best to take care of yourself while also prioritizing your partner’s needs. And if you’re looking for some ways to cope, check out these suggestions below:
- Consider seeing a therapist to share the feelings you’re dealing with.
- Openly discuss the diagnosis with your spouse if they are willing to discuss.
- Research the disease and learn about potential treatment paths for your partner.
- Be involved as a caregiver. “I encourage caregivers to come in to visits with my patients, because in that way, the caregiver is also listening to the recommendations — what should be done in between these visits, any changes in treatment plans, any toxicities [side effects] that we need to look out for, changes in dietary habits, exercise, etc.,” Dr. Jayanthi Lea, a gynecologic oncologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, previously told SurvivorNet.
- Think about joining a support group to connect with people in a similar situation.
- Try to stay positive when you can. “The only advice I have for anyone watching this is laugh — and laugh often, laugh at yourself. Don’t take yourself seriously. Things are already bad. Because once you do that, it’s a game-changer,” Jesus Trejo, a stand up comedian who took care of his parents during their cancer battles, previously told SurvivorNet.
- Take care of yourself and find ways to express your emotions. “I try to stay strong, but then sometimes you just want to go and cry, and you need to cry… it’s good to cry,” Jayne Wexler, a caregiver who took care of her son when he battled cancer, previously told SurvivorNet.
Losing A Spouse To Cancer
Losing a loved one to cancer can cause immeasurable pain – as Pierce Brosnan can surely attest to. And while it’s difficult to imagine life without someone like your significant other, it can be important to have difficult conversations with your loved one in advance if both parties are willing to talk.
John Duberstein can attest to the importance of these conversations. After losing his wife, writer Nina Riggs, to metastatic triple negative breast cancer, he told SurvivorNet all he wished for while she was suffering was for things to go back to the way they were – but Nina had already accepted her new normal.
“I really wanted things to go back to normal, whatever that meant,” John said. “She was not for that. She wanted to embrace the existence that she had, even before she knew she was going to die imminently. I did not want to talk about what was going to happen with me after Nina died. Nina is the one that really brought it up, she brought it up a number of times. She wanted to make sure that I knew that it was OK … she really wanted me to have another relationship after she was gone.”
John said that even with the pain of losing Nina, and even though he didn’t want to talk about it at the time, he’s so glad that his wife started those seemingly uncomfortable conversations.
“In retrospect, I can’t even explain how glad I am that I had that,” John said. “And I think, across the board, the people who have had those conversations who I know who have lost a spouse are immeasurably glad that they did.”
There’s definitely no one way to cope with the loss of a spouse, but Doug Wendt shared his thoughts on grief in a previous interview with SurvivorNet after losing his wife, Alice, to ovarian cancer.
“We’re never gonna move on, I don’t even think I want to move on, but I do want to move forward,” Wendt said. “That’s an important distinction, and I encourage anybody who goes through this journey as a caregiver and then has to face loss, to think very carefully about how to move forward.”