Surviving Breast Cancer and Your Relationships Too


Surviving Breast Cancer and Your Relationships Too

I made this mistake at first by not telling my mate and dealing with it alone for several weeks, not wanting to spoil the celebration for him receiving his college degree. But once the degree was in hand and the party was over, I told him and he was with me at every subsequent appointment.

Your partner becomes your ears – hearing for you. They become your secretary – recording theoptions you have and the steps that the doctor says you must now take. They become your hands and chauffer – driving you home from the appointment because you are in a fog and should not be behind the wheel of a working, moving automobile (I thanked God for traveling mercy). Your partner becomes the proverbial shoulder for you to lean on until you return to the land of the conscious and are ready to face the matter at hand with all the apprehension, anger and power that you can muster. The advocate’s shoulder may be needed for crying on too – but that comes with the experience.


If your partner/advocate does all of the above and is there for you in the most generously supportive way you can think of, then you should definitely want to maintain that relationship. For the moment anyway, it works. This doesn’t mean that it will always be that way but for now, don’t fix what’s not broken.

Now, on the other hand, if your mate is the total opposite – squeamish, doesn’t want to hear about it, refuses to support you, doesn’t have time to go to any appointments with you and tells you, in essence, to “man up” and handle it, or they just can’t take it -- you might need to reconsider this relationship in terms of knowing if it will work for you. If your treatment is going to temporarily alter your appearance and your mate freaks out because you’ve lost your hair, or you’re momentarily too tired to have intercourse, or they pretend you don’t have anything more serious than a cold, then you may need to seek the assistance of another close friend or family member, and put your mate out to pasture. Being critical of you in your time of need is not necessary. Your partner should empathize with you. In some cases the way they do so is to encourage you in a stern way. If that’s their personality then you should understand that they are trying to be helpful and that is indeed their way of working through difficulties. Just keep in mind that true partners are not fair weather friends. Committed relationships are supposed to be strengthened in times of adversity. This would be one of those times.

The same perspectives hold true for relationships involving family members, close friends and even co-workers. If they really care about you and your well-being, they become co-survivors, going through your experience with you but in a slightly different way -- they don’t get the treatment. However, just like you, they are afraid, anxious and apprehensive about “your” future. Thus, it is up to you to take the lead and invite them into your healing process. They don’t know what to say or do, so you must tell them what you need. Don’t hold back. Now is the time for you to be supported -- and they want to do it – to show you that they care.

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