Breast Cancer and Your Relationshipby Vicki Karigiannis
published October 16, 2009
Breast cancer can take its toll on a woman… as well as her significant other. Many couples deal with breast cancer in their relationship, and it’s admittedly not an easy feat. However, dealing with illness can make a couple’s love stronger, and we’ve got tips on nurturing your relationship during your battle with breast cancer.
Get informed… together. If you’ve been recently diagnosed with breast cancer, try to keep your significant other involved. Read up on the subject together, attend events and fundraisers as a couple, and even get information from professionals who can not only clarify many breast cancer questions you both may have, but also let you know how it may affect your relationship and your sex life.
Communicate. Communication is key to any relationship, but even more so when one of you is fighting a serious illness. Talking about one’s feelings and fears—whether they are yours or your man’s—is imperative to ensure you don’t let your breast cancer become an issue in your relationship. And talking about your breast cancer is a cathartic way of dealing with it, rather than isolating yourself.
Attend appointments as a couple. Your man will better understand what you’re going through if you invite him along to a few doctor’s appointments. He’ll not only be a strong hand to hold on to during the more difficult ones, but this will also let him know that you care enough to keep him informed and involved.
Give each other space. While keeping your man up-to-date on your illness is fantastic, you have every right to attend appointments on your own or have some time to yourself to wallow and cry. Your man may also feel overwhelmed by it all and need some alone time. Just be sure to let the other know to not take offense by this need for solitude, as this is a rough time for the both of you and some solo time can be much-needed.
Be considerate towards one another. Breast cancer requires being supportive, involved and caring to both parties in a relationship. Times get rough, but life continues. You and your man may have other stuff going on in your life, both good and bad, pertaining to family, friends or work, and it’s important to recognize them. If your guy gets a promotion, for example, try and congratulate him within your abilities, such as simply ordering dinner from his favourite restaurant. Supporting one another will bring you both closer, as well as make sure that you are not only defined by your breast cancer.
Make room for romance. Even though you’re going through breast cancer, it is important to keep your relationship fresh as much as you can. Understandably, chemo and other preoccupations may hinder your usual activities, so try to move your weekly movie nights to your couch rather than the theatre, or perhaps let your man give you a gentle and relaxing massage at home.
Understand that it could make or break your relationship. Breast cancer (and any other illness, for that matter) can be hard on a relationship. You may be the type of person who can’t let another person in during such a personal time, which can alienate your significant other. Or maybe you want to get your man involved, but he is so overwhelmed by it that he bolts. However, this will show the strength of your relationship: if you guys can get through this, you’re both likely in it for the long haul. If not, you’ll eventually find someone great whom you want to let in or who will accept your breast cancer.