Breast Cancer. Unfortunately these two words are common in our society, however we have made great strides in fighting this disease. Although we don’t have cure, we have better treatment and continue to gain more understanding. I don’t want to talk about the science, I want to discuss emotional health and the relationship tolls a cancer diagnosis can have. In honor of breast cancer awareness month (October) I sat down with five extraordinary women willing to bear their soul about their experience with breast cancer. From relationships and intimacy to pain and positivity they told it like it is.
Typically, the people around you (your support system) show up to help when there is a cancer diagnosis, however I think these interviews shed light on how much you may find yourself crying alone in a corner or a closet. Finding time dedicated to only you – can be tough, and intimacy issues arise. “Cancer and treatment messes with your intimacy with your spouse (or significant other)” stated Lydia. It was hard for her to accept that her husband felt as though he would hurt her while she underwent treatment, and this took a toll on her emotionally.
“Everyone that knows you, goes through cancer with you. It affects everyone around you,” were the words from Sally. It is hard to know who to let in and who not to let in, however the best thing you can do is listen to your own needs, your own voice. Amy was two weeks post double mastectomy when we sat down, shedding light on how hard it was to be going through a divorce and not wanting to let him back in over her personal situation. “I would cry in the shower so my little girls would not see me cry,” she stated.
Ginger, a two-time survivor, asked herself, “What do I want my future to be, instead of being controlled by outside elements.” Her journey was sacred as it changed everything with the relationship she had with herself emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally.
Toni, shared with me her acronym for Cancer – Change Agent, Naturally Empathy Rises. During a cancer journey you will receive empathy from others, even strangers. “Sometimes things are good between me and my husband, and sometimes they are not,” Toni shared. She has difficulty sleeping at night, resulting in different schedules in the household. “It’s a whole new territory for everyone, there is no direct path, You just have to flow, and trust in the unknown.”
Cancer challenges on so many levels, and is unchartered waters for everyone who experiences. There is not a specific “how-to” manual for cancer and relationships. From my conversation and my personal experience, I can urge to nurture the good ones by communicating at an unfiltered level, and never stop taking care of yourself and getting what you need to stay emotionally and physically healthy. Emotions will run high, and realities that are faced are not easy. Somehow it works out.
To view all the segments for Cancer Horizon’s Breast Cancer Realities, click here.