Cancer can cause changes to the balance in a relationship. However, having the loving support of a partner during cancer treatment can be important to a woman’s psychological well-being during recovery. Here are some things the partner of a gynaecological cancer patient should know in order to better understand and support them through this difficult time.
Dealing with emotional stress
More than anything, cancer can be stressful for both the patient and their partner. It is important to communicate with each other in order to understand how the both of you are feeling. Some partners bottle up their feelings because they are worried they will upset the patient. But feeling upset and worried after a cancer diagnosis is a natural reaction. Don’t assume you know how your partner is feeling. It is always better to ask them.
Changes to home and work life
Women perform so many roles around the home and at work, from running errands to working a full and demanding job. However, cancer treatment may well mean that some of those responsibilities fall to the partner. They must take on roles that the cancer patient is no longer physically able to do. This may include shopping, looking after children, dealing with phone calls/finances and housework. A cancer patient may need to take time off work, which means that household income may be affected. As such, a couple’s social life can also be affected by a diagnosis. The partner needs to understand this and work with the patient to figure out which new responsibilities they will take on and how to adapt to the new dynamic.
Changes to sex life
Be aware that a woman’s sexuality and sex life may be affected by their cancer treatment. Chemical changes during their treatment can give them less energy, a reduced libido and vaginal pain. This can be frustrating for couples whose sex life is a regular and important part of their relationship but there are ways around this which you can discuss together with your partner’s gynaecologist. Above all, the patient’s partner needs to be understanding of these changes and try not to let it come between them or pressure the patient into anything.
Need more help dealing with a gynaecological cancer diagnosis? Speak to us at Dr Tania Adib Gynaecology London.