SWISS MEDICAL EXPERTISE: ZURICH, MALLORCA, LONDON, NEW YORK

5 Minutes

Edited & clinically reviewed by THE BALANCE Team
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A cancer diagnosis can make your world spin. There is nothing that can prepare a person for the after affects of a diagnosis. Time seems to stop, and speed up all together. That awareness—and the unknowns within it—can be crippling: not only for the person going through it but for their loved ones as well. This experience can be particularly hard for an affluent individual, as this process brings with it another level of challenges that most people don’t have to think about. It’s important to note that a diagnosis like cancer doesn’t discriminate. 

Cancer and relationship

It can affect anyone, at any time. There is no amount of wealth or success that can make it go away: so how do we handle things outside our control? How do we make peace with the process? In this blog post, we discuss the emotional levels that one goes through after hearing a diagnosis, how cancer can affect family life, and clinical advice on how to communicate through the process.

A cancer diagnosis can trigger a broad spectrum of emotions for everyone involved. It’s important to know that while feelings of fear, anger and grief are natural – it doesn’t mean that their impact will always be positive. Partners and family members may struggle to share these feelings, they may even have a hard time understanding them in the first place. This can lead to feelings of isolation for all parties involved. Clinically, it’s understood that the diagnosis can alter communication and intimacy. The first step is taking the time to understand the emotional responses, and their impact on relationships when navigating the journey together.

The period of time after a diagnosis is distinct. It has the ability to impact relationships on many levels, both positive and negative. This impact can lead to shifts in roles within relationships. A partner or family member may become a caregiver, even if they were previously the one who was more often cared for, and vice versa. It may be difficult for someone who is used to being in charge becoming more dependent. These changes can put strain on relationships – sometimes even leading to resentment or guilt. It can also make underlying issues worse. However, it also has the potential to bring partners closer together. It’s essential that these changes are acknowledged and adapted to in order to foster a healthy relationship during cancer treatment.

While navigating the changes in roles within a relationship, communication can be the difference between growing closer together or growing further apart. It is essential to recognise that old patterns of communication may no longer be effective after a diagnosis – strong emotions affect people differently. One partner may want to talk through every detail, while another may retreat to silence. Transparency is crucial in supporting each other through this process. Especially when it comes to physical assistance, emotional support, or space within the relationship. Discussing cancer with loves one’s can be difficult to navigate: one tip to consider is using “I” statements. This can help avoid projections during discussions. Be sure to avoid assumptions and clarify expectations.

One of the first notable changes after a cancer diagnosis is the physical changes that follow. These changes can range from fatigue, appetite, changes in physical appearance due to treatment, to shifts in sexual health and intimacy. If a person is usually very active, this change may be particularly challenging as they will come up against limitations they previously never had to. This may lead to feelings of helplessness, and changes in self image. It’s important to not hide these changes and feelings as they come up, as it will help prevent misunderstanding from partners and loved ones. It is beneficial to discuss new ways to connect physically and emotionally to maintain intimacy and keep bonds strong.

This process can prove particularly difficult when balancing a diagnosis, or the feeling surrounding the news of a loved one, with high intensity jobs. People in leadership roles are often looked to as the standard in the work place. A diagnosis will affect one’s ability to work on a competitive level, and lead a team. The desire to maintain a sense of normalcy often compels individuals to continue working as if nothing has changed, despite the emotional and physical toll. A demanding professional role brings with it a level of challenges that most people do not have to think about after a cancer diagnosis.

When a person hears a diagnosis for the first time, isolation can quickly follow. This can be particularly intense when you are managing wealth, a company, or a high profile career. You may not be able to just seek out therapy: you need someone or a team that understands your lifestyle, empathises with your position, and puts confidentiality above all else.

There are many support systems one can leverage during this time, but not many that check all boxes. At The Balance Healthcare Group, we offer a unique blend of all of these needs. A third party perspective can prove invaluable for you or your loved one during this difficult time. Our professionals can provide the support, safety, and privacy in navigating this deeply personal and overwhelming time in an individual, couple, or family’s life.

While the process that follows a cancer diagnosis can be isolating, especially for an affluent individual, there are resources available to support your navigation through it. The unique challenges that you will face will prove difficult, but it also offers an opportunity for relationships to adapt and grow stronger. By understanding the emotional toll, adapting to changes in roles and dynamics, maintaining open communication, addressing physical challenges, and seeking external support that understand your lifestyle – relationships can emerge more resilient.

If you or a loved one are navigating the impact of cancer on your relationship, The Balance Healthcare Group is here to help. Whether that be one to one therapy, couple counselling, or family sessions: support can be the difference between growing closer and growing further apart. Reach out to us for more information, support, and resources on strengthening your relationship through the cancer journey.

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