Young adults do not expect their partners to face a life-threatening illness. Like you, your partner/girlfriend/boyfriend is probably feeling scared, sad, worried, angry, overwhelmed and confused.
Remember, your partner/girlfriend/boyfriend has a choice. If they are with you, wanting to look after you, then let them. If you are worried they are only staying with you because they feel sorry for you, then talk about it openly and honestly.
If there’s stuff affecting your relationship that you can’t talk to them about, talking to a member of your YCS team or a counsellor might help. Canteen also provides a free and confidential counselling service.
Hiding emotions creates distance between partners. It is normal that you and your partner won’t always feel the same way. Talk about your differences and respect their feelings without criticism or blame. Try to remember that everyone has different ways of dealing with tough situations. Things that can help:
Dating and starting new relationships can be hard enough at the best of times! But after a cancer diagnosis, it may seem almost impossible.
You may be feeling sick, exhausted and self-conscious about changes in your physical appearance and going out and meeting new people can feel overwhelming.
But finding an opportunity to socialise and meet new people may really help your self-confidence and help you to feel like things are ‘normal’. Maybe try a new hobby, join a club or take a class. These activities might help you become more comfortable around new people, especially if you have physical signs of cancer such as hair loss, scars or an amputation.
Not every new relationship will work out, but that is also true without cancer in your life.
It can be difficult to tell people that you’ve had cancer or that you have had part of your body (like a breast or testicle) removed. Deciding when to tell a new partner about your cancer experience is your personal choice.
Cancer can affect your sexuality (including your body image and libido or desire) and your sex life.
Generally, unless your doctor tells you not to, there is no reason why you cannot have sex while receiving treatment for your cancer. But, depending on the treatment you are having, you may have to take particular precautions.
It’s also normal to feel ‘washed out’ and not have a lot of energy for many months, feel unattractive, or have treatment side effects that impact on your sex life. It’s important to talk to your partner/boyfriend/girlfriend about how you feel. You can still have a great relationship without having sex.
Read more about how cancer can affect your sexuality and sexual health while you’re having treatment.