Friday 11 May 2018
Robyn Volkers â€“ Maggie's
Cancer and its treatments affect lives in many ways, including personal relationships
The information on this page will help you to find out more about the emotional impact of cancer on your personal relationships. Weâ€™ll look at ways to cope with the changes cancer brings to a relationship, and how ²Ñ²¹²µ²µ¾±±ðâ€™s can help.
A personal relationship can be hard to define â€“ the bonds you form with those closest to you are unique to you. Itâ€™s an emotional connection formed by the experiences shared, and feelings of love, trust and companionship.
You may be part of a small or large family, and have friends who are part of your close relationship network.
If you have a partner, then they may be a key part of your day to day life too, sharing the world you live in, and experiencing similar distress when cancer is diagnosed.
It is often at times of crisis that relationships are truly tested. No-one knows how resilient they will be when facing cancer. Itâ€™s natural to feel scared about what the future holds, and couples and families often try to protect each other from the emotional turmoil theyâ€™re experiencing.
Stress levels can build up, as normal daily routines are turned upside down by appointments, tests and treatments. You may be aware of roles changing - the person who is usually strong, may be having to rely on others more. Relationships can sometimes feel more like a carer/patient relationship than an equal partnership.
The effect of treatments and the cancer, can also affect confidence levels.
Tiredness, and other side effects may mean that a physical, intimate relationship is less of a priority - particularly for the person with cancer. This can sometimes lead to feelings of rejection and loss of sexual confidence.
Children, whatever age they are, will also be affected by what is happening. It may be tempting to protect them from seeing how you feel, but they may be keen to be included in day to day events.
Friendships can sometimes feel tested when you have cancer. Good friends will rally round, offer help and support, and be there for both the good and bad days. Other friends sometimes donâ€™t know how to handle the situation, and may withdraw.
Personal relationships may change during cancer and its treatments, and there can be grieving for the way things were. Many couples find their relationship strengthens as they face the situation together. Sometimes, relationships fail, as couples struggle with the stress of living with cancer.
Being aware of some of the potential problems can help â€“ as well as knowing where to get additional support.
Whether it is you, or someone close to you, who has the cancer diagnosis - itâ€™s likely that both of you experienced similar feelings on hearing the news. Many people feel shocked, scared, and concerned for each other. Here are some tips to help cope with the impact on you as a couple, and as a family:-
With so much going on in your life, you may find that you or those closest to you, are feeling anxious, panicky or depressed. The feelings can be overwhelming, and it can help to talk about how you feel with your doctor and healthcare team.
If your relationship is struggling with the pressures of cancer and its treatments, seek support early. Joining forums, support groups and contacting an organisation like , or visiting ²Ñ²¹²µ²µ¾±±ðâ€™s can help you feel less alone.
If youâ€™re a carer, and youâ€™re finding relationship problems and tensions are causing you anxiety and worry - let someone know. You can contact local carer support groups, for advice and support.
Have a look at our blogs and links on this page to find out more personal relationships and cancer.
Talk with others about what you are experiencing. It can help to hear that what youâ€™re feeling is not unusual, and help you feel less alone.
Call into ²Ñ²¹²µ²µ¾±±ðâ€™s to talk to our cancer support specialists and to connect with others in a similar position to yourself.
Last review: Mar 2022 | Next review: Sep 2023
To find your nearest Maggie's centre, enter your postcode or town below.
Stay up to date with our news and fundraising by signing up for our newsletter.Sign up