A personal relationship can be hard to define – the bonds you form with those closest to you are unique to you. It’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. It’s natural to feel scared about what the future holds, and couples and families often try to protect each other from the emotional turmoil they’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 carer/patient, 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 don’t know how to handle the situation, and may withdraw.
Personal relationship changes
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 – as well as knowing where to get additional support.