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cancer and relationships


If you have a partner, having that extra support and someone on your side can be great. At the same time, it can also create friction or complications, and they may need support as well. Don’t forget the Redkite support team is here for your partner.

talking to your partner about cancer

It’s hard to know how to tell someone you care about that you have cancer. There's no right way to break the news, but it’s a good idea to put yourself in their shoes and think about what you’d want to know. Some other ways to make it easier are:

  • Give them a chance to ask questions and come to appointments, if you’re okay with that
  • Give them time to digest the news, and don’t worry if they don’t know how to react right away
  • Let them know there’s support for them as well

pressure on the relationship

Cancer can be tough on relationships, no matter how established they are. The only thing people in this situation can do is decide how they’re going to deal with each challenge as it comes up.


Hopefully you’re part of a supportive relationship and know how to communicate with one another. Of course, we don’t live in a perfect world and chances are you're both going to say and do things you regret occasionally. Remember to give each other permission not to be perfect all the time.


If you want to talk to someone outside your relationship at any stage, the Redkite support team are here.

friction with family

Having your partner and your family supporting you through cancer can sometimes feel complicated or even crowded. There may be issues around who's involved in your treatment decisions and people competing for your time and attention.


Both your family and your partner might also become overprotective and feel a little threatened by your relationship with the other. Communication is going to be important. You may need to set boundaries or gently remind people that there’s room for everyone to support you. Again, the Redkite support team can help you manage these conversations.

cancer and sex

We know you might be reading this thinking sex is the last thing on your mind right now, but it is possible to have sex during treatment. It’s important to be aware of a few things if you plan to.


There are a number of treatment side effects that can complicate your sex life including tiredness, dryness, and the potential risk that there might be traces of chemotherapy in your bodily fluids. Chemo isn’t something you want to be sharing with an intimate partner – it could seriously harm them. This can be an issue even two or three months after treatment has finished. Contraception is also important to consider, as you may still be able to conceive while having treatment.


Don’t be embarrassed to talk to your medical team about sex and any questions you have – before treatment, during treatment, or afterwards. They’ll be the best people to give you informed answers, and they’re more than used to having these discussions.

Last updated September 2015.