Cancer Challenges Our Relationships

Our lives have all changed dramatically in the last year or so. Personally I have found that my work has moved into different areas and I’m working much more internationally. As we have seen with the pandemic, the only way we can have impact is by collaborating globally. Obviously this brings it’s own challenges, but as we have seen can bring incredible results. I believe that we will only be able to make headway against cancer if we work in a similar way.

I am being contacted from people across the globe to share their stories. My thanks to Nia from the US this week for writing her own views and experiences.

“Cancer is a disease that affects almost all areas of our lives. It’s easy to discuss how it changes our health in a multitude of ways, but often overlooked is how a cancer diagnosis inevitably creates deep challenges to our relationships. For better or worse, cancer can really shed light on the intentions of the people in our life, and present lasting changes that are surprisingly more psychological or social, rather than physical.

Typically, the first relationships that are transformed are friendships. When you share a cancer diagnosis with your circle of friends it quickly reveals who is supportive or not. In other words, you will find out who your true friends are. A true friend will check in on you regularly, offer to help, and extend sympathy. A bad friend will avoid you and not talk to you because the nature of your friendship has likely transformed. Since you will have little to give to the relationship in terms of energy or social outings, they may withdraw. This can be upsetting and feel like betrayal, but is really a blessing in disguise. The ones that are there for you want to support you for little in return because they care about you.

Next, cancer will reveal things about your romantic relationship or marriage. Cancer will put the common wedding vow, “in sickness and health,” to the test by challenging relationships that are less based on emotional connection or intelligence. For example, romantic relationships that are primarily based on physical attraction or common physical hobbies, like sports or recreation, have the potential to suffer most because it will change your relationship more than others. It’s best to have open communication about your expectations early on to avoid any resentment when challenges arise.

Lastly, cancer will change your relationship with yourself because cancer may transform your identity. If you are known for being active or energetic, falling ill in any circumstance can be difficult. This is especially difficult for men since being seen as sick or weak is emasculating for them. If this is the case, it’s probably best to seek out flexible options like online therapy to cope with handling such changes and heavy emotions. Ideally, the experience and challenges of cancer will leave you with more sympathy and self-compassion.

In the end, remember to stay kind to yourself throughout the process. It’s easy to blame yourself for changes in relationships because your cancer may have revealed the true nature of those closest to you, but their reactions speak more about their character than yours.”

The problems we face with cancer, are very similar wherever we are in the world. We have more things is common than divide us. Despite this I don’t think I have ever experienced a sector that works more for individual gain and very little impactful collaboration. So many egotistical agendas that make it virtually impossible to work together meaningfully. Politics, brands, fundraising, pharmaceuticals, research and support, all fighting for their slice of the ‘cancer cake.’

It has been this way for so many years! We seem to have just succumbed to the challenges of cancer, whilst we continue to lose 450 people daily in the UK. This disease affects every family in the country, but from the complete lack of action anywhere, you wouldn’t know that. Now that Covid is here, are we prepared to accept the financial and physical sacrifices of cancer as impossible to improve? It really feels like that today!

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