Relationships

Whether we realise it or not, our life is based on relationships,all on different levels. We have our loved ones and family, then close friends, people we know from work, and people who help us in our lives like tradesman etc.There are people that we meet at various stages of our lives, that come and go. Sometimes it is hard to admit, but we really only have room in our lives for a few close friends outside our families.Time just doesn’t permit us to form too many lasting relationships.

I know that some of my younger readers might disagree with me, particular when they look at how many ‘ friends’ they have on Facebook or followers on Twitter,but it is true. We all may know a lot of people, but that is different.

Relationships are always interesting at the best of times.I’m sure, like me you see couples and wonder how their relationship works. Two people, who on the face of it have very little in common, yet seem very happy together. So many of my friends, are totally opposite to their partners, yet they make great couples.

One thing certain to put a relationship under strain, is something like a cancer diagnosis. I have always said that when someone receives a life changing diagnosis, the dynamics of relationships change.Some don’t even last the course! One minute, your life is planned in front of you and everything is as it should be. The next minute you are facing a very uncertain future, dealing with things that only happen to other people.
Once I had reached fifty, I really thought that if I was going to get any illness I would have had it by then. I don’t know why I thought that, as logic tells me that the older I get, the more chance there is of getting ill! No heart or cancer issues, I never even took a day off sick. Then, out of the blue I got my diagnosis. I was very sick with a poor prognosis. My life plan was now in the bin!

My relationship changed immediately! I couldn’t work,therefore earn money. I was so weak, I had to be driven around, I was eternally visiting the hospital, I was having constant treatment, which made me sick and exhausted. My appearance changed, I lost all my hair, I went fat and thin, depending on what drugs I was on. Totally lost my libido, (unsuprisingly!) I almost lost my will to live. All the roles that I was fulfilling in my relationship, I could no longer do.

As it turned out, my perception of the new me, wasn’t at all the one that my wife and boys had. I felt totally helpless and relied on them for almost everything.That feeling is very difficult to imagine unless you have experienced it, but for someone as independent as me, it was almost as bad as the disease itself. I had changed from being a driver, to a very helpless passenger in my relationship.

I can really understand, how something like this puts pressure on peoples relationships. All the things that we enjoyed had been taken away, and I felt guilty, for the sacrifices my wife was making. Of course it wasn’t my fault, but that is how I felt.To a degree I still feel that way today.

For me, without the help and support of my family, through these tough times, I don’t think I would be here writing this, but I know lesser relationships could have crumbled. I know of partners that have left because of the illness. They just couldn’t cope. Others start off ok but struggle if it is a long  term battle.Some relationships get stronger, and others collapse.When so many of the factors, that a relationship are based on are taken away, other factors can strengthen, to compensate, but that is not always the case.

I have briefly touched on the effects of a cancer diagnosis on your personal relationship. Now just imagine, the effects with your employer, and the knock on with your finances. Stress is the last thing that you need at a time like that, but that is the one thing that you will have in abundance, whether you like it or not. It will be then that you will find out, the strength of your own relationship.

Living with the new me is the relationship I find the most difficult. I’m not sure if I will ever get used to that.

This post is dedicated to my wife, Sue and boys Stephen and David. Thank you for your faith and belief in me!!

2 Comments

  1. Hi Chris
    You’re so right, there’s nothing like a cancer diagnosis to put a relationship under strain. I was in a relationship that collapsed after I received my acute myloid leukaemia diagnosis at the age of 33. At first it did bring us closer together but fairly soon the cracks began to show and my partner just kept saying he couldn’t cope. It had changed so many things between us and he left almost as soon as my treatment had finished. It was horrendous at the time, words can’t really explain how bad it was, and like you said, if it hadn’t been for my family (my parents and brother) and friends I really don’t know how I would have got through it. But the way I see it, now looking back, is that it was for the best as if it hadn’t been cancer it would have most probably been something else and so better to know sooner rather than later if your partner can’t do ‘for better or for worse!’ I take comfort in that and I hope anyone else reading this who’s going through what I did, will too. There IS a light at the end of the tunnel, believe me!

    • Hi Melissa
      Thank you for sharing your very powerful story. The example which you talk about is more common than you might imagine!I have often said that it is sometimes more difficult to be a partner than to be the person who is ill.We tend to get all the attention and our partners are left to cope on their own with their very different issues.
      I am not convinced that there is enough awareness of the problems that partners face.Your partner however, made his choice, but at least you knew where you were.I think we both know that there is no rule book with our disease, and we just have to deal with things when they come along. I think we are certainly much stronger mentally, than before the process.A cancer diagnosis certainly tells us things about people that we didn’t know! (Good or bad)
      I don’t know if you watch Eastenders, but there is a cancer plot in there currently.Tanya has cancer and Max her husband is struggling. Apparently now she is in remission he feels that their relationship can switch back to normal. He says,’But the cancer is gone’ she says, ‘But it hasn’t gone from my head’! Very poignant I thought.
      I hope to welcome you back to the blog soon as your comments will be of great value to other readers

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