A diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer (MBC) affects the entire family. You and everyone in your life will need to adapt to this new situation – and to do so may be very dificult at times.
in general, it is better to be open and honest about your cancer. Keeping it secret can take up a lot of energy and create more stress for you. In this section you will learn:
Sex can still be an important part of your life if you have cancer. However, the symptoms, the side eects of therapy, and the emotional fallout of cancer can hurt your ability to feel good about your sexuality. If you find you lose your desire for sex, understand that this is not uncommon. Sex may become painful or uncomfortable. This does not happen to everyone
Sexuality is also more than the physical act of sex, and it includes all the feelings and actions that come with loving and caring for someone. You may feel emotionally disconnected from your partner after your diagnosis. Your partner may have his or her own fears or barriers towards sex. For example, he or she might be worried about making the cancer worse, or hurting you.
Although it can be embarrassing to talk about at first, you may find talking can help you break down these barriers with your partner. It is not an easy topic for anybody to discuss. These are very common diculties that people have.
It may also help to talk to your doctor or nurse, who can put you in touch with a couples’ counsellor. Don’t be embarrassed to talk to them. Your healthcare team is used to having these types of conversations and may be able to help.
Everyone may cope with the news of your cancer dierently. You will find that some people will need a lot of time to come to terms with your illness. Others will try to be more stoic and strong for you. You may find that some friends struggle to know
what the right thing to say is, and how best to comfort you. Knowing how to deal with your friends’ and families’ reactions can be tough. Here are some ideas on how you can help people come to terms with your cancer:
Often people just do not know what to say or how to behave around you. While it may seem unfair, you may need to raise the issue and tell them how you are feeling and what you need from them.
tell them how they can help you. For example, if you want them to come to your doctor’s appointments and treatment sessions, or if you just need a hug and someone to listen to you.
your family and friends may need support of their own, so remind them that there are services available to help them too.
No matter how old you are, you are still your parents’ child. As your parents, they have a natural instinct to protect you. It can be dificult to tell your parents you have MBC if you feel they will not be able to cope with your diagnosis. No one wants to cause their parents pain and suffering, especially if they are older.1
Your parents may have a highly emotional response to your cancer. This stems from their feelings of helplessness about your illness. They may try to do more than you want them to do and interfere in your care. This might lead to conflict and stress.2
If this happens, you can gently remind them that you are making all the decisions on matters related to your health. Tell them you will keep them informed and up-to-date. Sometimes establishing boundaries can help, and telling them specifically how they can be involved.
! Enlisting support from siblings or close friends can also be helpful in breaking the news to your parents.
How you talk to people in your life about what you are going through is completely up to you. Finding the right time to tell all the other people in your life is important. It’s okay if you want to wait until you have made sense of your diagnosis before you tell your wider circle of friends and relatives.
You may find that your relationships with your friends change after you have been diagnosed. Some relationships become even stronger, but it is likely that others will not. Not everyone can handle cancer, and some friends may be unable to cope with their own feelings and pain. Without meaning to, some friends may say something or treat you in a way that is insensitive or does not help you.
It may be best for you to avoid any unnecessary stress that overly negative relationships can add to your life as you try cope with cancer. Try instead to focus on the positive support that you are receiving from those who care about you.
! Thinking ahead of time about how you wish to tell your friends may help you express your feelings more clearly. Try to be honest about how you are feeling and what you need. Doing so can help put your friends at ease and can help them to better understand how they can help you.