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Often when a woman has breast cancer, all the attention is focussed on her. You may be angry, shocked, disappointed, irritable or just 'not yourself'. You may have physical responses just thinking about what is happening to your partner or your mum.

If you are a partner
If you are a child

If you are a partner

Partners often find cancer really hard to deal with. In some cases the partner is hit even harder than the women who has cancer. You may be asking, why not me?

Make sure you get support for yourself. This need not necessarily be a formal group - anyone you feel you can talk to in confidence will do. It helps if they have experience in dealing with cancer or breast cancer through someone in their own family.

Your partner may not want to say some things in front of you and this may make you uncomfortable. , There may also be things you can't easily say in front of her or other family members.

Sometimes it is easier to talk to someone else. You may find it easier to talk about your fears for the future with someone who isn't directly involved. This doesn't mean you shouldn't talk about such things with your partner. But it will help you to sort out your feelings.

While you may find it extremely difficult, even feeling "selfish" asking for help when you're not the one who is sick, it is in your partner's interests even more than your own that you get the right kind of support for yourself.

Don't try to do too much and do what you can to help manage your own feelings:

  • Try to stay healthy.
  • Look after yourself emotionally and don't push yourself too hard.
  • Take time to do things you normally do for yourself that help relieve pressure (play golf or go fishing if that helps). The time you take out for yourself will give you strength to help your partner
  • Share your feelings with someone you trust. Talking about what is happening helps reduce stress
  • Involve friends and family to help share some of the daily activities e.g. cooking, laundry etc.
  • It's OK to admit to not being strong all the time
  • If you are caring for a partner with metastatic cancer, take a break from being a carer. Speak to the doctor, nurse or social worker about respite care. This type of care is provided by people with special training, in a hospice setting, for a specific period of time

If you are a child

You may feel like your life is turned upside down. You may be afraid your mum will die. She may not be around so much or may spend time in hospital or in bed. She or your father may keep asking you to be quiet, do extra things around the house or stay with friends after school.

Here are a couple of websites which you may find helpful:

Gillette is a site for friends and families of women with cancer
KIDSCOPE is an organization which has been formed to help families and children better understand the effects of cancer and chemotherapy in a parent.

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