Watch the Moving Forward video on Family and Friends
A cancer diagnosis affects everyone in your family: your partner, your parents, your siblings, and your children. It also affects your friends. How these relationships change depends on each person’s coping style.
When managing your relationships during this time, don’t be afraid to ask your family and friends for help. This helps the people who care for you feel that they are providing you with valuable support.
What your spouse or partner may be experiencing
Because your partner is a primary source of support, a cancer diagnosis may affect this relationship more than others. Young adults typically do not expect a partner to face a life-threatening illness at such a young age. The diagnosis of cancer may be overwhelming for your partner. Both individuals may experience some of the following feelings:
The effects of cancer vary from couple to couple. Most couples will experience changes in a variety of aspects of their relationship. These can include changes in roles and responsibilities, sexuality, intimacy, parenting, and plans for the future.
For many couples, facing the challenges of cancer together strengthens their relationship. Uncertainty about the future can reinforce a couple's love and commitment. It may allow them to reevaluate their priorities and reinforce the importance of their partnership. In other situations, a cancer diagnosis can strain the relationship. For these reasons, it is important for you and your partner to talk about your concerns and challenges with each other. It may also help to talk with a counselor if cancer is causing stress in your relationship.
How your parents may react
You may feel that your parents become overprotective or try to take charge, even if you haven’t lived with them for many years. They may want to talk to you frequently, ask a lot of questions, or give unsolicited advice. It is natural for your parents to want to protect you and take care of you because that was their role for many years. Your parents are also dealing with their own emotions surrounding your cancer diagnosis, as well as those of your siblings and other family members.
How your siblings may react
Your siblings’ responses to cancer will depend on several factors:
Younger brothers and sisters who are children or teenagers likely will react differently than older siblings. A brother or sister who is close in age to you will more easily relate to the stresses, fears, and concerns that you experience as a young adult with cancer.
Keep you company on trips to the hospital or clinic
Spend time doing fun things with you—things that take your mind of cancer
Visit you at home when you don't feel well enough to go out
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