How cancer treatment can affect your relationships

Cancer and its treatment can cause many changes in your life. You may be worried about how relationships with friends and family might change. If you have a partner, you may be worried about changes to your relationship. Or you might be thinking about starting a new relationship. Even close families or couples who have been together for a long time can have problems.

However, some changes will be positive. Going through an experience like cancer can make relationships stronger.

Every relationship is different, and it is important to spend some time finding out what the other person thinks and feels. It is also important to remember that people deal with things in their own way.


When you are trying to deal with things, it can be a comfort to feel listened to and heard.

Here are some tips for communicating:

  • Make time to talk about how you feel and what is important to you. This can help you feel closer.
  • Be aware that you may both have many difficult feelings and that these are all normal. Try to find out more about each other’s feelings by asking questions, listening and talking.
  • If talking is difficult for you, you could write your feelings down for the other person to read.
  • You do not need to have an answer for every worry or question – listening to one another can be enough.

Sometimes it might be easier to talk to someone other than the person with cancer. This will take some pressure off both of you. The person you talk to could be a partner, close friend, family member or spiritual advisor. Or you may find it easier to talk to someone you do not know.

Getting support

Some people find it helps to talk to other people who are in a similar situation. You can use our local area search to find a support group near you, or ask your cancer nurse. If your feelings are affecting your everyday life, talking to a professional may help. You can ask your GP about how to get counselling or see a psychologist. A counsellor or psychologist helps you talk about your feelings. They may also help you change the way you are thinking.

If you are lesbian, gay, transgender or any other minority sexuality or gender identity, you may feel that you or a partner are not getting the support you need. Sometimes talking about these issues can help you cope. There are organisations that can offer support, such as Stonewall and the LGBT Foundation. You can also call us on 0808 808 00 00. There may be LGBT-friendly support groups in your area or you could go to our Online Community’s LGBT forum.

Date reviewed

Reviewed: 31 January 2019
Next review: 31 January 2022

This content is currently being reviewed. New information will be coming soon.

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