Questions to ask about Relationships
- How can I be aware of how cancer could affect my parenting style?
- If I have difficulty talking to my children, who can help?
- Could my treatment plan affect my sex life? If so, how and for how long?
- Can you refer me to another health care professional who can help facilitate discussions with my friends and family?
Cancer alters how you interact with your family, partner, and friends, as well as how they interact with you. Some survivors need support that differs from that which they received during active treatment. Friendships may grow closer, while others may drift apart. Families may become overprotective or have reached the limit of their ability to support one another. Relationship issues that may have been overlooked prior to a cancer diagnosis can now be brought to light. Everyone is affected by cancer in ways they may or may not be aware of.
Parenting and Family Life: When active treatment ends, many cancer survivors discover that parenting poses new challenges. The demands of cancer and treatment may have made it difficult for you to spend time with your children for months or even years. The guilt of being away from home or unavailable all of the time can lead to a strong desire to just be a "normal parent," or even a "super parent," to make up for the lost time. Long-term cancer treatment side effects, such as memory loss, concentration difficulties, pain, fatigue, or permanent disabilities, can make parenting even more challenging and frustrating. During this time, it's crucial not to compare yourself to other parents.
- Consider more relaxed and manageable ways of communicating that will give you quality time and the opportunity to enjoy shared experiences, such as watching a favourite movie together or going for a walk, rather than putting a lot of unnecessary stress and pressure on yourself, your partner, and your children every day full of love and fun.
- The best way forward is to focus on communicating openly and honestly with your family about your feelings and the chance cancer might come back and encouraging them to share their feelings and concerns with you
Sexuality and Intimacy: Cancer and cancer treatment can cause changes in sexual function and sex drive in some survivors. Some treatments, even those that aren't aimed at the pelvic area or the groin, may have physical side effects that make sexual function difficult. Other physical changes that aren't directly related to sexual function, such as losing a testicle or a breast, requiring a colostomy or another type of ostomy, losing weight or hair, or having scars or skin changes, can all affect how a person feels about his or her body and physical attractiveness. All of these changes have an impact on a person's self-image, self-confidence, and sense of attractiveness..
- It is important to discuss what you are experiencing with a member of your health care team.
- Finding a counselor who has worked with cancer patients and going through some of these problems with them can be beneficial to both you and your partner.
- You will both better adapt to the changes cancer has made in your lives and in your relationship if you develop open and ongoing communication with your spouse or partner.