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Cancer Support: Family, Friends, and Relationships - Topic Overview

Talking to adult family members

Be honest with adult children, siblings, parents, and your partner. Discuss your options with them. Make sure they know your wishes for treatment and other major decisions. Make the most of your time with them, and share your feelings.

Talking to friends and coworkers

When you talk to friends and coworkers about cancer, share only what you're comfortable sharing. Be prepared for offers of help and support.

People's reactions

You've probably felt a range of emotions since you found out you had cancer. The people who care about you will have a range of reactions too. Some will get very emotional. Others may try to hide their feelings. Some may feel awkward and not know what to say, or they may seem angry for no reason.

It's not easy when you're dealing with your own feelings and other people's reactions too. But if you can, try to be open if people in your life want to talk with you about your diagnosis and how they're feeling about it.

Sometimes, people's reactions to your cancer diagnosis can really let you down. Cancer is scary for most people. Some may avoid you or avoid talking about cancer because they don't know how to deal with their fear. This can hurt, especially if you expected their support. Think about saying something like, "I understand that you may be upset or not know what to say, but I'd like to be able to talk with you about what's happening. I could really use your support right now."

Your relationship with your partner

Your partner probably feels scared about your health and your future. He or she may feel powerless to help you.

Cancer can bring couples closer together, but it also can cause a lot of stress in a relationship. The key is to keep communicating with each other. Share your worries and your thoughts often, and learn about your cancer and treatment together. Some couples find it helpful to start a journal they can both write in and share with each other.

Let your partner know how he or she can help you. You may want him or her to come to appointments with you or to help lift your spirits when you're feeling down. You may just need your partner to be a good listener when you need to talk.

It's important to find ways that you and your partner can feel close. You may not feel interested in sex, especially during your treatment. That's okay. There are other ways to feel close, such as holding hands or cuddling.

Understand that your partner may need some time alone to rest, take care of other things, or work through his or her feelings about your illness. If you'd prefer not to be alone during those times, ask a friend or relative to spend time with you.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 07, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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