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As a parent, you may not be able to do all the things you usually do for your children. This doesn’t mean you have failed in any way. It just means that you need to plan your time and save your energy for the most important tasks.
Remember that you’re probably not alone in your feelings. Your partner and other family members may have concerns and worries too. You may try to hide what you really feel so that you don’t upset other people. But getting your concerns out in the open and finding that others feel the same can be reassuring. Talking about your worries may be all that you need to do to help you manage your family and work life.
It may also be helpful to talk to someone outside the family, such as a good friend or trained counsellor. See our section on getting professional help| for more information
Being diagnosed with a serious illness can be difficult for you as an individual, but if you have a partner it can also affect them and put a strain on your relationship.
How cancer affects your relationship with your partner may depend on the level of commitment in your relationship, how long you’ve been together, how long you’ve been living with the diagnosis and how it affects your day-to-day life.
When someone has an illness that affects their relationship, it can help to think about what things were like before. If the relationship was difficult before the cancer was diagnosed, it probably won’t be any better after the diagnosis.
For some people, a cancer diagnosis may reveal a relationship to be less strong than they or their partner had previously thought. However, some couples come to a new understanding and love for one another as a result of overcoming a shared challenge like cancer.
Communication plays a big part in any relationship. A diagnosis of cancer often means you and your partner will experience a wide variety of emotions. You and your partner may have different feelings, and you may feel different things at different times. Talking about the illness and the impact it’s having can be an important way to help you both cope with it.
But remember, you or your partner may not always want, or feel able, to talk. Your partner can also get emotional support from your nurse specialist, and other members of the hospital team.
Our section on cancer, you and your partner| has more information about the impact that cancer can have on relationships, and what may help. You can also contact our cancer support specialists|.
It’s not always easy to talk to children about cancer or your emotions. However, it’s often best to be as open with them as you can. It’s important to give them information that’s appropriate to their age.
If you’re a parent with young children and you’re very tired, worried or upset, it may help for someone else to look after the children for a while to give you a break.
This can be upsetting for all of you. But don’t feel that this is a failure on your part. Giving yourself some time now will help later. At other times, you may feel that having your children around helps you feel better.
Children can be very loving and affectionate, and this can be very helpful. Hugs and kisses, and knowing that your children love you can help you feel more positive about yourself. Simply making an effort to smile and talking to them may help you feel better. Doing things with your children, like taking them for a walk, bike ride or swim; or playing with them, can help improve your mood.
You may find our section on talking to children| when an adult has cancer helpful. There is also video there about talking to children.
Work is an important part of life for some people. It can help to have a discussion with your line manager about the best way to manage your work. If you’re finding things very difficult to cope with, you may need to take time off until you feel better. It can feel very different going back to work. Priorities can change and you may want to consider working part-time or returning to work gradually.
You may find it helpful to read our section on work and cancer| . If you’re self-employed, you may also like to read our booklet Self-employment and cancer|. We also have a booklet for carers called Working while caring for someone with cancer|.
You might find it helpful to watch our video| about Jules and how cancer affected her working life.
Content last reviewed: 1 May 2012
Next planned review: 2014
For answers, support or just a chat, call the Macmillan Support Line free (Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm)
If you have any questions about cancer, need support or just want someone to talk to, ask Macmillan.
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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