In this blog, Editorial Assistant Helen talks about some of the difficulties you might face if your partner has cancer, and shares some ideas on how to show your partner that you care.

It’s Valentine’s Day and it’s impossible to escape the deluge of sappy cards, bright red glittery hearts and the mountains of red roses that have been flooding the shops for the last month. But it doesn’t have to be Valentine’s Day to show your partner that you care about them.

If you or your partner is diagnosed with cancer, it can be an extremely stressful time. Disagreements and misunderstandings are not unusual. We all have our own ways of coping and you and your partner may react differently.

Your feelings
Cancer can cause a wide range of feelings including grief, anger, and uncertainty. You and your partner may both have these feelings but may have them at different times. You may each have good days when you feel positive, and bad days when your fears and worries are stronger.

Some of these feelings may be:

  • shock
  • anxiety and uncertainty
  • anger
  • guilt
  • sadness.

Sometimes people don’t want to talk about their feelings in case it upsets their partner. But it is alright to allow yourselves to be sad and upset. This is a natural reaction when you are coping with cancer in your lives.

Discussing your fears or concerns can help put your feelings into perspective. Talking about your feelings may make it easier for your partner to do the same.

Similarly, listening is just as important as talking. We all like to feel like we’ve been heard, especially when talking about a serious issue.

You may feel helpless and unsure how to comfort your partner. But just listening to them when they want to talk can make a real difference. You don’t need to have all the answers – listening can be enough.

We have resources on how to talk about cancer.

Showing your partner you care
There are many big and small ways to show your partner you care. Some are practical. Others may be less obvious but can still be important.

This is a speech bubble with a quote from Faith inside. The quote reads ‘My husband cooked me a delicious dinner and ran me a bath to soak some aches away. Those wedding vows were more than mere words!'

Here are a few ways you could show your partner that you care about them:

  • Allow your partner to talk about how they feel, even if you disagree with them. This is a good way to show them that you value their opinion.
  • Cook your partner their favourite meal, or a meal that you think they might enjoy. Our recipe book for people affected by cancer can help you find something suitable.
  • Try and make time for each other. Take time to do and talk about things other than cancer. You could see a film, go for a meal or possibly even take a holiday.
  • Let the person you are caring for know, when possible, that although you are there to help, they are still in control. It can help to ask if your partner needs you to do something before you do it.
  • Find books, TV programmes, music or audiobooks that your partner might like. These can be good ways to occupy your partner if they are in pain or feeling tired during treatment.
  • Offer to go to a support group with them. If they’ve never been to a support group, having someone they know with them could help them overcome their fear.

We hope that you found this blog about cancer and your partner helpful. Remember that if someone you love has cancer, we have lots of information available to support you, which you can order or download here

This image shows three covers of our booklets available to order free or download as a pdf on our website


To see what else Macmillan's cancer information team has been blogging about, please visit our blog home page! You can subscribe to receive our blogs by email or RSS too.

We're with you every step of the way

The Macmillan team is here to help. Our cancer support specialists can answer your questions, offer support, or simply listen if you need a chat. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00.

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