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Looking after your close relationships

Your cancer diagnosis can affect all kinds of relationships. When you are given your cancer diagnosis it can affect all kinds of relationships. This includes not only partners but also parents, siblings, children, friends and colleagues. Even the strongest of bonds can be put under enormous pressure and it’s important that everyone is aware of this.

During this traumatic time, communicating feelings and thoughts are so important yet this can be so difficult.

Everyone is worried about upsetting each other by talking about what’s going on, so often will say nothing.

What can sometimes happen:
  • Partners feel helpless as they can’t make everything ok.

  • Parents are anxious for you (whatever your age) and can become overprotective.

  • Friends and colleagues don’t know what to say to you, so don't say anything.

  • You can begin to feel more isolated.

  • Children can withdraw as don’t know what’s happening and especially if you start to look different.

  • Physical contact may be painful so cuddles etc. so may be out of the question.

  • Partners become isolated with their own fears.

  • You may withdraw as you have just about enough strength to deal with your diagnosis and treatments and therefore may feel unable to support other family members as you would have done previously.

  • Partners can feel pushed away and physical relationships can suffer.

What can be done

Acknowledge these things can happen and it’s quite normal.

Talking is the key but sometimes you may need help with this. Please talk to your specialist nurse or member of your healthcare team if you need extra support. Many hospitals have psychologists working in cancer care and if this would be helpful, please ask for a referral to them. Your partner should be able to access support with you if this is helpful for you.

There is information available to help to understand some of your feelings, which you could share with others, including:

You can also talk to your healthcare team to find out about other support in your local area. Many cancer support centres offer groups, alternative therapies, meditation classes and counselling for you, your partner and family members too.

Forums, like ours, offer an outlet for you to talk about things with others experiencing similar difficulties.

Happy Family
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