How Cancer Affects Your Relationships

A cancer diagnosis affects many relationships, from your marriage to your kids and friends. The feelings you have upon diagnosis are complicated and overwhelming. By understanding the different relationships in your life better, you can best interact with others to receive their support to get through this difficult time.

Your Relationship with Your Partner

Cancer can upset marriages and common-law relationships, unlike ever before. Along with your sadness, anger, and fear, your partner likely has a range of emotions they are experiencing too.

Precisely what changes occur vary as every couple is different. While some couples grow stronger through the hardship, others feel a division due to the shocking news.

You, Your Kids, and Cancer

While you may wonder whether to hide the diagnosis from them or not, it’s best to be open and honest with them instead. Children can feel when something is wrong and keeping it a secret can be confusing for them. Kids may also worry more when they think they are not being told the truth or the whole story.

When you provide your child with information about your cancer treatment, ensure that you keep it appropriate to their ages. Doing so will help them to fully understand things without feeling like it is too much to handle. Also, be open about what changes they can expect in the future, such as how your appearance might alter, so that they are less scared when they see this happen.

Relationships with Friends and Adult Family

When telling your friends and family about the diagnosis, recognize that they will respond differently, depending on how close you are to them and their experience with cancer. Thus, prepare yourself for relationships to change, especially if your news brings up bad experiences for them. In this case, they might not be able to support you in the coming days.

For most of your friends, though, they will likely want to help you. It’s important to let them do so. From helping you with housework to going grocery shopping for you, they can save you precious energy when you are tired and stressed.

Also, understand that family and friends might avoid you because they are not sure what to say to you. That’s especially true if they’ve never known someone who has cancer before. If you want to talk with them about it, explain that you do not expect them to provide you with answers but instead just want them to listen to you. Talking about things can be helpful as you get it off your chest.

Final Words on Maintaining Communication

In all the relationships mentioned above, it’s imperative to maintain good communication. That’s true as a parent, spouse, friend, or sibling. Failing to do so, whether it is you or the other person, can lead to misunderstandings and frustration.

Instead, be honest and open whenever possible. Explain what you need in terms of support and answer questions as well as you can, in a way that you deem appropriate to the type of relationship.

Lastly, consider seeing a counsellor if you want extra support. It’s okay to ask for help during this tough time.

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