Being diagnosed with breast cancer is difficult enough without having to add to it the complexities of dealing with varying relationships. It’s not just the one you might readily think about – the love interest, spouse, boyfriend, significant other, etc. These are the most common.
However, there are many other relationships to consider when you are embarking on a journey that centers around a serious illness. And, just like the romantic partner-relationship, the others need to be put into perspective in much the same way. There are questions that should be askedand they vary depending on the type of relationship in which you need clarity.
The Romantic/Intimate Relationship
Here are four questions you should ask yourself after receiving a breast cancer diagnosis:
- Is the relationship I am currently in good for me?
- Is my partner understanding/sensitive enough?
- Can I allow my partner to be a part of my healing process?
- Is my partner willing to be a part of my healing process?
Notwithstanding the above questions, the question of intimacy going forward will be in the back of your mind with regard to its quality. In the event physical alterations have to be made to your body, will your mate be capable of adjusting to the changes?
If the answers to the other questions are in the affirmative, then you will probably have as positive an experience with breast cancer as you can in an intimate, romantic relationship. Your mate will probably be patient, caring and will go out of their way to ensure that you are comfortable, that you have everything you need and if you don’t they will move heaven and earth to fulfill your needs to your full and complete satisfaction.
Partner and Advocate
As a breast survivor, I can’t say that my own personal experience was perfect – but I’d say it came pretty close. My significant other was fairly thoughtful, patient and caring. The fact that professionally he was a management level social worker was a positive. Social workers are trained counselors and they have experience listening to others, posing appropriate questions as necessary and giving guidance. This is where the importance of having an advocate comes into play.
When you suspect a problem with your breast, you follow-up with a doctor and have the requisite testing, you must put your advocate – your partner or other interested party, on notice. The reason you should tell someone (even though this seems like the most personal of topics -and it’s normal that you would not want to discuss it with anyone initially), is that more than likely you will be called into the office for your test results. If the test (biopsy) shows that your tumor/lump is malignant, you won’t hear anything else. Your doctor will continue talking to you about treatment options and the next step, etc., but to you, he or she may as well be saying wa-wa-wa-wa-wa. Because your mind has just left the building and is now riding on West Panic Highway. You’re thinking “Am I going to die?” And that could be the most remote possibility. But you won’t hear the doctor’s continued explanation because you heard “malignant tumor” or “cancer” and have consequently tuned out. That’s where your advocate comes in.