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How Cancer Can Affect Family Life

A cancer diagnosis doesn’t just affect you, it affects the ones you love as well. Even after treatment ends, the ripple effect can still be felt due to the emotional and physical changes cancer leaves behind. Not only can this be challenging for you, but it can also be challenging for the entire family. 

One common concern of cancer patients’ children, grandchildren, and siblings is, “Will I get cancer, too?” Depending on the cancer, that answer could be yes, considering some cancers, such as breast, colorectal, endometrial, ovarian, pancreatic, and prostate cancers, could put blood relatives of cancer survivors at an increased risk of developing them. 

Another concern among couples of child-bearing age is, “Will we be able to conceive a child?” Again, for some, this answer could be yes as some cancer treatments do affect fertility. If you received any of those treatments, you may have preserved eggs or sperm in advance and you and your partner will need to discuss how to proceed. If you didn’t address fertility before treatment, trying to conceive a child could leave you feeling stressed and anxious.  

Whether you want to conceive a child or not, sex and intimacy concerns will almost certainly cross your mind and that of your partner. You both may wonder, “Is it OK to be sexually active?” Sometimes, cancers as well as cancer treatments do impact sexual function. You may struggle with body image issues and your partner may worry about causing you discomfort. 

It’s important to remember that all of these questions and concerns are completely normal. Fortunately, with time and open communication, you and your family will find yourselves thinking less about cancer and spending more time enjoying normal life again.


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