Illness Can Bring Your Family Closer

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on October 29, 2021

A diagnosis of breast cancer can be devastating and is certainly not something you'd choose to experience. There's also a silver lining to everything, though, and facing a serious illness can bring your family together. As a result, your family may end up stronger and closer than ever before. Read on to find out some ways that dealing with breast cancer can help your family bond. 

You and your partner will likely develop better communication skills as a result of your breast cancer. You'll both experience a lot of worry and anxiety, and you'll have to learn to depend on each other for support. Although you'll both undoubtedly struggle with feeling vulnerable and expressing your needs and concerns, the process of working through those feelings will result in a closer relationship. You and your partner will see and support each other when you're at your lowest, which can make your bond stronger. Here are some ways to encourage open and honest communication with your partner: 

  • Set aside time for just the two of you to talk uninterrupted. 
  • Start by talking about everyday things if you’re feeling uncomfortable.
  • If your partner isn’t a talker, you may have to do most of the talking to start. Just try to keep the communication going. 
  • Consider seeing a therapist if you and your partner are having trouble communicating. 
  • Try writing down your feelings if you’re having a hard time talking face-to-face. 

Your biggest fears about dealing with cancer probably center around your children, but you can end up with a stronger relationship with them as well. While there are probably days that you feel bad about not being able to do as much as you used to for them, children will benefit from and enjoy helping out. Your children may be anxious and worried about you, but contributing to the family can help them develop empathy. One study of children whose mothers had breast cancer found that they were better behaviorally adjusted than children whose mothers didn't have cancer.

Some ways you encourage family support and foster a closer relationship with your children are: 

  • Talk to your children about your diagnosis and keep them updated on your treatment in an age-appropriate way.
  • Answer their questions honestly. 
  • Make sure your children have a safe place to express all of their feelings. 
  • Let your kids help out and show them how much you appreciate their help. 

Families that deal with hardships together can come through more tightly bonded than before. When you all focus on caring for each other, you’ll develop deeper empathy, respect, and love for each other. 

Show Sources


American Cancer Society: "Helping Children When a Family Member Has Cancer." "You and Your Partner."

Oncology Nursing Forum: "Behavioral adjustment and self-esteem of school-age children of women with breast cancer."

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