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Communication plays a big part in any relationship. Talking is one way to communicate, but facial expressions, body language, gestures and tone all contribute to how we express our thoughts, feelings and ideas.
When someone is diagnosed with cancer, both they and their partner will experience a range of different emotions. There are also practical issues| to consider, for example, work|, finances|, visits to hospital and telling family and friends.
Talking about cancer| about cancer and the impact it has can be an important way to help you both cope with it. But remember, you or your partner might not always want or feel able to talk.
Reasons why talking may be difficult:
People often get comfort from talking to each other. Talking about something can also help you understand how you feel about it. Discussing your fears or concerns can help put them into perspective. Talking about something important or personal produces a bond between people and this can help both of you to feel appreciated and supported.
Listening is an important part of communication - we all like to feel we’ve been heard, especially when talking about a serious issue. Making sure you’re both comfortable and that you have enough time is important. Don’t be afraid to express your own feelings| and concerns. This is something you are both going through, not just the person with cancer. Allow yourselves to be sad and upset - this is a natural reaction to bad news. Silences need not be awkward as they give you a chance to focus your thoughts. Remember that humour can be important too, and that touch can sometimes express what you mean more than words.
There is no 'magic formula' or 'right thing' to say. Listening and talking can help you both understand, as much as you can, what the other person is feeling. The more you understand each other's feelings and thoughts, the easier it will be to communicate.
Content last reviewed: 1 June 2011
Next planned review: 2013
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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