CSN Login
Members Online: 17

A question concerning couples and cancer

Threelittlebirds
Posts: 39
Joined: May 2013

I hope I am not offending anyone, but I was wondering since a cancer diagnosis changes the normal in everyday life, how does a couple going through it keep intimacy, romance and love making somewhat normal though this all.

I read about care givers and how wonderful you all are and how you must put so many things asside for the time beeing.

You can tell me if I am offending anyone by asking this question.  I am just very curious by nature and was wondering how you all cope.

Chantal

VivianLee5689's picture
VivianLee5689
Posts: 546
Joined: Aug 2012

I have to say when David was going through treatment our focus changed to fighting the beast.  The treatment for head and neck cancer is very difficult.  We were really not able to indulge in the most physical part of our relationship.  What I found was just holding each other's hand and making sure every day to tell him how much I loved him and for him to do the same for me sustained us.  I am not sure how others dealt with the new reality, maybe we are the exception, but it is hard to get very physical with a neck wound, half of the base of the tongue removed, mouth sores, thrush, nausea from chemo, a PEG tube.  That was our reality, yet I felt a tremendous amount of love and respect to and from my partner.

Threelittlebirds
Posts: 39
Joined: May 2013

Thank you so much for replying as I know it must be hard for you to revisit those days.  I guess as well as having a new normal, you also have a new intimacy...more on the romantic side.  From what I read the treatments are brutal so it's true that intimacy is probably the last thing on your mind.

 

Chantal

fishmanpa's picture
fishmanpa
Posts: 1104
Joined: Jan 2013

Hi Chantal,

I don't recall seeing a thread concerning intimacy on the boards. It's a good question and I for one am not offended in the least. On the contrary, I'm curious as to other's experiences. I have to believe everyone is different concerning intimacy while undergoing treatments. No different than how we cope with the side effects of the treatment itself.

Marcia and I posed that question to the Team when we met. They were pretty up front (and right) that any sexual intimacy we would have would be short lived once treatment kicked in. Dealing with the everyday treatments, appointments, all the drugs and tests were overwhelming. We stayed at Hope Lodge in Baltimore so it was a foreign environment to boot. Not exactly the time or place for romance I assure you! ~lol~

Once the side effects of the rads and chemo kicked in (thrush, nausea, fatigue, sleeping in a recliner due to mucous etc.), any inkling of intimacy beyond a cuddle, holding hands etc. went out the window. Mouth pain and lack of saliva makes it  nearly impossible to get a kiss beyond a peck on the cheek or lips. 

We just try to make time to talk (and NOT about cancer!), hold hands, cuddle up and watch a movie etc. I don't know what the long term effects will be. It's a good question to bring up at my next appointment.

"T"

hwt's picture
hwt
Posts: 1836
Joined: Jun 2012

I'm sure everyone is different with the intimacy part. You have an opportunity with your relationship to come out on the other side of tx feeling closer to each other than you ever thought possible. When you walk hand in hand through this journey, you will have a stronger affection and appreciation for each other and life in general.

Candi 

Threelittlebirds
Posts: 39
Joined: May 2013

Thanks for all your replies.

 

The reason I am asking is my partner left me in December, in the midst of all the cancer tests dues to the lytic lesion found on my bone.  After many years together, he just left and told me via a text that it was over.  I thought we had a great relationship, we never argued and to me, life was great...but I guess he just got so scared or maybe he was just too callous.

 Like I have stated in a previous post, all results from that came back negative.

I have been seeing a wonderful for 3 weeks who knows about the possibility of oral cancer and will come to my ENT appointment with me.  Of course, I don't want to drag him through that if that is the case but he says if something is wrong, he wants to be by my side.  I don't want to rob him of anything so soon in this.  I have known this man for 16 years, he has been one of my best friends since then.  There is also the other (selfish) side of me that does not want to go through this alone if it's the case, but I was upfront with him and he still says he'll be by my side.

 

Maybe I am getting way ahead of myself and should probably wait to get results before I let my mind go there.

I still can't get over how wonderful you all are.  

 

fishmanpa's picture
fishmanpa
Posts: 1104
Joined: Jan 2013

I don't feel you're jumping the gun regardless of your personal situation. It's a valid question. I'm seeing, even with the small number of responses, that the side effects of treatment pretty much thwart our desires. 

In retrospect we did the right thing... I had a "bucket list" of foods I wanted to eat before treatment began. I'm really glad I did that as I haven't had anything solid or semi solid pass my lips in several weeks. We also took advantage of an "exercise" program that kept the blood flowing until the treatment took over ;) 

So yeah... I would say, get your "yayas" out while you can. It may be a little while before that train pulls into the station again ;)~

"T"

phrannie51's picture
phrannie51
Posts: 3621
Joined: Mar 2012

can't be asked here....so rest easy Smile.  My Onc told us that we had to be careful sharing bodily fluids during chemo....that the chemo I was getting I could pass on to my husband.  At first we were like "well, damn!".  However once treatment progressed, our relationship progressed with it....like someone else mentioned, we got closer than we've ever been.  We talked more about real things, where we were, and where we're going.  We planned doing the things we want to do, our bucket list really....

During treatment, sleep, rest, trying to get enough calories and hydration.....constant Dr. appointments take up almost all spare time....there's the general malaise also.  Nobody feels frisky during treatment.

p

jcortney's picture
jcortney
Posts: 406
Joined: Sep 2012

Then only thing I can add, was my Doc said if we were to have relations there must be barrier protection used to prevent fluid transfer.  Have to tell you, once Chemo started, well let's just say the chemo was enough of a barrier all by itself :)

Joe

Billie67's picture
Billie67
Posts: 834
Joined: Jul 2012

Nothing is off limits here, ask away :-)

I will tell you in my case, once treatment kicked in I was feeling less than sexy! However, my husband and I seemed to get closer than ever before. If your new guy is "the one" You will see him become even more attentive and loving than he is now. We did a lot of hand holding or he was really good at rubbing my back. There are so many factors that get in the way of doing much more than that....such as nausea, pain, PEG tube, neck burns, goop all over the neck and the list goes on not to exclude the nasty mucous and the need to spit every 2 minutes. 

A real partner will understand all this and only expect for you to take care of you! 

 

Now  until you know for sure about any diagnosis, try and breathe. 

Take care,

Billie

Threelittlebirds
Posts: 39
Joined: May 2013

Thanks again.  I am breathing and somewhat relieved.  

It's weird what goes through one's head when contemplating the possibility of cancer.  

 

jim and i's picture
jim and i
Posts: 1569
Joined: May 2011

Yup what every one said is true. Sex will be the last thing on your mind. However, you will become very close and experience real love. Sounds like it was there for 16 years and you didn't notice.

Debbie

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8057
Joined: Sep 2009

Come to mind....

Search for a few post of Homer's.... He goes quite indepth on the subject.

But that being said... I can attest at least on my part, most of the time, you are more in the heat of battle versus passion. Sex is good yes, but the intimacy, the true love and caring..., that will defnitely shine through.

You are in this together...

And like mentioned, this is a pretty open crowd, nothing off limits so far has been asked...

Like I say...

Hell, I've been poked, probed, scoped, zapped, radiated, x-rayed, radioactive crap injected in me, cut, metal stuck in my chest for two years, examined, blood sucked from me, poison injected into me... A few of those times wearing a stupid gown with the back open and fully exposing my azz to the world...

There's no modesty when it comes to cancer treatment...

So if you can get through all of that, a few questions aren't going to offend me, LOL...

But then again, I am the Abi-Normal one in the crowd here...susel

John

HobbsDoggy
Posts: 165
Joined: Feb 2013

My wife and I became much closer during my battle or I should say ongoing battle.  We had to decide what was important and what could just be put aside for now.  Phycial relationship was not going to happen and that was just fine as it was all we could do to support each other.  In a way I was able to support her by accepting help.  Best of luck.

JacquieinFrance's picture
JacquieinFrance
Posts: 14
Joined: Apr 2013

 

Frankly, with all the hospital visits and treatments, you can only concentrate on the fight in hand, but if you feel up to sex (no pun intended) go for it!

Talking about bucket lists, my dream is of a piece of fresh out of the oven French baguette with butter.

 

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8057
Joined: Sep 2009

Something that I think is even better, but pretty darn close...

Slice some fresh Asiago Cheese and stick it on thick slices of the bread, then stick it under the broiler until brown and crusty...mmmmm

JG

JacquieinFrance's picture
JacquieinFrance
Posts: 14
Joined: Apr 2013

sounds good but I can't  put it through the mixer Laughing

Tim6003's picture
Tim6003
Posts: 1490
Joined: Nov 2011

....no offense taken....I have five kids (all natural) so it would be hard pressed for me not to chime in on this one.

Opinion Alert::::

1.  That's great this guy is there for you, sorry you got burned by the last guy....BUT I will tell you like I tell my kids often (not that you are a child of course) ..."take it slow and low" (which means from me to him to think about and focus on all your decisons /actions before execution and to not get caught up / overwhelmed in passion or hype over any circumstances / situation) ..that advice seems to really work with my son Kohle who is by my side every chance he gets whether we are hunting or cutting wood. 

2.  Take care of you first right now...this new guy will totally understand you are not being selfish by wanting him there AND needing to take of yourself as well.

Opinion Alert OVER::::

Whispered a prayer for you and your well being (and snuck one in for wisdom in working out a great realationship with this new guy) .... :)

Threelittlebirds
Posts: 39
Joined: May 2013

Thank you Tim for the prayer and the wise words.

Ps:  I hunt as well.

Chantal

Subscribe with RSS
About Cancer Society

The content on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. Use of this online service is subject to the disclaimer and the terms and conditions.

Copyright 2000-2014 © Cancer Survivors Network