After the initial shock of hearing the word, cancer, most turn to their significant other or close confident to share the news. It is where the beginning of a patient’s support outreach starts. What lies ahead is unknown. The path feels scary and sometimes it may seem there is no light at the end of the tunnel, yet cancer patients fight on. Navigating the unchartered waters is not always easy, and it is truly a different experience for each cancer patient.
When it comes to relationships and cancer, it can take its toll. There are ups and downs, and things can become strained or deeper connections can be made. Our Cancer Horizons Breast Cancer Reality Video ‘The Real Truth About Cancer Breast Cancer and Relationships’ is a conversation with six women who openly discuss their relationships and cancer.
Amy, fresh out of a divorce, felt she did not want her ex-spouse to know what was going on with her. When we sat down, she was two weeks post-surgery with a double mastectomy and one week post mediation, which made everything feel in the heat of the moment. She was not alone though, with great parents by her side and friends that showed up, her relationships with her inner circle strengthened. “I would cry in the shower so my little girls would not see me cry,” she stated.
It is hard to know who to let in and who not to let in, however the best thing you can do is listen to your own needs, your own voice. “Everyone that knows you, goes through cancer with you. It affects everyone around you,” were the words from Sally.
What cancer can do to intimacy can be heart wrenching for a cancer patient. Often your partner feels that he/she may hurt you if they touch you. From the eyes of a partner, they love you so much, and the last thing they would ever want to do is hurt the one they love more than anything else in this world. That is both sweet and gut wrenching. Many of us need touch and intimate moments, without them we can feel like relationships are strained. You have to watch Lydia’s heart wrenching realization and advice on cancer and intimacy for yourself.
There is not a manual on how to navigate relationships and cancer. It is a very personal journey that has to be done from the inside. Communication is necessary and the key in all your relationships while riding this wave. Intimate moments may need to be found in dancing to your favorite song, or something that is special and unique between you that can make you laugh, cry happy tears, or reminisce.
Ginger, a two-time survivor, asked herself, “What do I want my future to be, instead of being controlled by outside elements.” Her journey was sacred as it changed everything with the relationship she had with herself emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally.
Toni, shared her acronym for Cancer – Change Agent, Naturally Empathy Rises. During a cancer journey you will receive empathy from others, even strangers. “Sometimes things are good between me and my husband, and sometimes they are not.” She has difficulty sleeping at night, resulting in different schedules in the household. “It’s a whole new territory for everyone, there is no direct path, You just have to flow, and trust in the unknown.”
Our moderator, Mandy, offered her advice from her personal experience with cancer, “You have to fight. Deciding for yourself, what is worth fighting for. Cancer can make good relationships great, and not so good relationships bad. The most important thing I can urge you to do, is take care of yourself emotionally and physically, and communicate at an unfiltered level to avoid the guessing game. Emotions will run high one day, and the next it may be fine. Do your best at going with the flow. Everyone wants to feel appreciated and desired in life. Whether you are a cancer patient or supporting another, it is the little things that will make all the difference.”
To view our entire segment on breast cancer and relationships, click here.