7 Tips for Couples Dealing with Cancer

on Monday, 08 February 2016. Tags CancerCare, Couples and Cancer, Lancaster, Relationships and cancer

With Valentine's Day just around the corner many of us will be getting ready to spoil our beloveds and celebrating our feelings of affection for that special person in our lives! But what about couples dealing with cancer?

Cancer changes the lives of each person in a relationship and both require support. However, couples often find it hard to talk about difficult or sad topics. This means that they may shy away from talking about the intense emotions and changes that come with a cancer diagnosis.

Let's take a look at some tips that can help you talk with your spouse or partner about cancer.

Hold hands

Work Together

Talk about treatment and work together as you explore treatment options. While the person with cancer ultimately makes the final choice about treatment, it helps strengthen the couple if both partners have a chance to consider the options together. When possible, attend doctors' appointments together so you have shared information to go over during such conversations.

Find a good time to talk

Choose times to talk when you are both free from distractions and not rushed. Some couples find that scheduling a daily or weekly time to talk works well. Talk about topics you typically discuss. You don't always have to talk about cancer.¬ Consider joining a support group or talking with a trained counsellor to help you each cope in your own way.

Think about what you want to say

writing down the bones

Consider practicing what you want to say or writing notes for yourself if you have something difficult to share. This may help you prioritize your values and identify your biggest worries.

Understand your Differences

Talk about the ways you each cope with stress to identify whether you have differing needs in conversation. For example, one partner may view cancer as a problem to be solved, while the other needs emotional support and validation. Understand that both of these responses have value. Talk about differences in the way you feel, and respect your partner's feelings. For example, at times, one of you may feel afraid while the other feels hopeful.

Be Honest

Talk honestly about your feelings, both positive and negative. Emotions such as anger, fear, frustration, and resentment are normal reactions to cancer. Couples often don't discuss these emotions because they fear upsetting each other or feel guilty for having negative thoughts. Hiding feelings creates distance between partners and prevents them from supporting and comforting each other. On the other hand, hearing that your partner feels guilt or sadness may also be very difficult to bear.

Share your feelinGS

feelingsTell your partner how you are feeling physically and emotionally. Sharing helps your partner understand your challenges and provides an opportunity for him or her to support you. Tell your partner about the specific types of support and encouragement you need. One day you may need encouragement to get out of the house; another day you may need some quiet time alone.


And lastly, don't be afraid to laugh! Humour may help you and your partner cope.


If you or a loved one needs support through cancer and would like to talk to one of our trained Counsellors then contact CancerCare.

Find out more about our free local support services in North Lancashire & South Lakeland here.

Support CancerCare today

Give the gift of friendship this Valentine’s Day so that local people facing cancer and their loved ones, will have all the support they need, now and all year round. Sign up to Friends of CancerCare.