Relationship issues

Relationship issues

When you have cancer, it affects you, your partner, and your family and friends. This can change relationships in many ways. 

People find different ways to manage this, and support is available if you need it.

Relationship with your partner

Cancer can put a lot of pressure on your relationship with your partner. It is a confusing, stressful and emotional time for you both. For some couples this may bring you closer together, but for others it can cause difficulties.

There is no right way to cope with cancer. However, there are things you can do to help your relationship:

  • Talk with your partner about your feelings and how cancer has affected your life.
  • Write down your feelings in a diary or blog to help you sort through your emotions.
  • Plan activities and outings with your partner.
  • Tell your partner how they can support you.
  • Talk to a counsellor either on your own or with your partner. 
  • Talk to people who have been through similar situations.
  • Call the Cancer Council for support and advice.

Relationships with family and friends

Family, friends and work colleagues will have different reactions to your cancer:

  • Some will feel sad and lost for words, and others will have lots of questions.
  • Some may say inappropriate things or things that upset you. They don’t usually do this on purpose, but your news may take them by surprise.
  • Others may avoid you because they don’t know what they should say. This can be upsetting and you may feel disappointed or angry.
  • During treatment, some people will give you a lot of support, even people you didn't know very well beforehand. Others, who you know well, may become more distant.

The way you feel can also affect relationships.

  • There may be times when you don’t want to talk, and that is OK. You can say “Thank you for asking, but I don’t want to talk about it right now”.
  • At other times you may want to spend quality time with people.

It may help to join a support group and talk to others in similar situations. The Cancer Council runs support groups and gives telephone support.

Where to get help

There are people you can talk to for more information or support.

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