The impacts of changing roles

Cancer, or its treatment, usually changes a person’s role in their family. While having treatment or after surgery, you may not have the physical energy to do all the jobs around the house that you did before. Relatives and neighbours may get involved in lending a hand, and sometimes this can leave the person with cancer with a sense of not being needed or not having control over their life. For some people, fulfilling their roles as mums, dads or breadwinners, or leading independent lives, has been part of their sexual self-esteem.

“It was difficult being both my partner’s carer and sexual partner. Getting that feeling of intimacy back was a challenge.” – Matthew

Plans may also have to be changed as a result of cancer and its treatment. Couples can have all kinds of plans, spoken or unspoken, to enrich their relationships or sex lives. Some look forward to their children leaving home so that they have more time, money and privacy for their relationships. Cancer at this stage of life cheats them of these opportunities. It’s perfectly normal to grieve for this kind of loss.