painted eggs landscape of life melbourne

Cancer and relationships

The diagnosis of cancer or other serious illness has the potential to change the landscape of life. While most couples are able to weather the storm of diagnosis and treatment, it may feel like life has been turned upside down. 

Who is cancer and relationship counselling for?

Marital or couple relationships in which one partner has been diagnosed with cancer experience incredible stressors within their relationship. Cancer affects couples physically, psychologically, and emotionally. There are role changes, the language of oncology to translate and numerous caregiving tasks.

When a couple shares closeness and security in their connection with each other, the relationship can also provide a resource to buffer the effects of cancer for both the individual diagnosed and their partner. The couple becomes a source of emotional support for each other.

Cancer and relationship counselling can help you:

  • Enrich a healthy relationship, renew a tired one or repair a relationship that has gone awry
  • Develop a shared understanding of the difficult patterns and emotional distance that has emerged within your couple relationship following cancer diagnosis and treatment 
  • Create new interactions in which you and your partner are able to clearly express your needs and be responsive to each other
  • Manage relationship stressors more effectively and develop a greater sense of calm
  • Reduce feelings of grief, loss, loneliness and isolation
  • Understand and experience how to build a secure bond with a relationship partner
  • Re-discover intimacy and sexuality

Jo has tertiary qualifications in Bio-Medical Science, Counseling and Psychology and more than 10 years experience working in healthcare related environments. Jo was involved in planning the design of the Olivia Newton John Cancer & Wellness Centre and has contributed to the development of resources for Breast Cancer Network Australia. She has co-facilitated support groups for young women diagnosed with cancer for BreaCan and Breast Friends for Epworth Freemasons Hospital in Melbourne. Jo has also been involved in research into the experiences of people diagnosed with breast, lung, prostate and head and neck cancers. Jo has an interest in relationships as a resource in coping with life transitions, especially changes in intimacy, sexuality and identity following a cancer diagnosis.

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