Couples face unique challenges when dealing with the side effects of cancer treatments. Some of the side effects are temporary and some are permanent. The major challenges revolve around intimacy and sexual functioning, sexuality, self-esteem, and roles within the relationship and family. Changes in one’s body, loss of body functioning and surgeries have major effects on how we see ourselves and perceive our partners view of us.
At the Center for Cancer Counseling we help couples open up discussions focusing on these very difficult areas. Under the best of conditions, many couples have a difficult time discussing issues about sexual functioning and intimacy. Cancer presents a new challenge. For many, a sexual relationship that was once easy and spontaneous now requires some re-education, understanding and work.
Cancer presents the urgency of these discussions. It demands some type of readjusting these intimate relationships: new ways to view our partners, our bodies, what intimacy means, sexual functioning and satisfaction.
Without these discussions, couples can find themselves feeling lonely and isolated. With some help and guidance we can alleviate this isolation, frustration and loneliness. It is in these discussions couples can feel closer and enjoy a fuller and richer relationship.
With these discussions, couples learn to work together to solve the challenges and difficulties around sexuality. Cancer patients learn how to adjust to their body changes and partners learn how to help with this. Together, couples can develop whatever type of intimate relationship that works best for both of them. The important part is that couples develop an open and honest ability to communicate and then design their life together.