The changing age of cancer

Any relationship today runs the danger of being derailed due to a variety of external, as well as internal factors and situations. Consolidated relationships have a better chance of survival should any traumatic event rock the foundations, but where cancer happens to be the unannounced guest, it may have short-term adverse effects on even these relationships.

Therefore, the consequences of a breast cancer diagnosis for a younger woman who is in the process of planning to start a family, can be of a cumulative nature. Instead of planning for a family, the couple must now plan how to get through this trauma without losing each other. Their future as envisaged flies out of the window and the world suddenly changes to an unforgiving place of fear and confusion and disappointment.

The couple now enters a state of “what if”….

However, there is no need to make a pact with an unforeseen future and regard life as a cul-de-sac. There is no reason why all kinds of adversities should be entertained although it is a normal tendency to do so – at least until some clarity arises.  Even though circumstances have changed and dreams have been placed on hold, the power of love under these conditions should never be underestimated. Yes, under strained circumstances we tend to react according to our pain and fear and in the process hurtful words may be exchanged. A relationship that was designed to grow into a family and enter another phase of togetherness, now suddenly becomes fragile under the glaring exposition of the presence of cancer. Two life forces have collided – that of giving life and taking life.

Two people are suddenly subjected to an aspect of life that they have never considered to become part of their personal lives. This is the kind of thing that is written about in woman’s magazines, whispered about at tea parties, or referred to in a vague and by-the-way approach. It concerns the older generation that has lived a life and not a couple standing on the brim of moving forward.  Unfortunately, the reality of cancer cases in the world is changing.

This new story that is about to emerge in the lives of these two individuals must be written with sensitivity, as to mould it into their own so that this narrative does not become disjointed and uncommunicative.

Perhaps the approach to one another should be along the lines of: “I want to ask of you in my struggle with this illness, please listen to my story and see how my life breaks up in a thousand pieces and allow me to leave them on the floor until I am ready to pick them up and start putting the pieces together again. Out of the disarray and the brokenness, a story may form which will connect me with all the words I have longed for so long to tell you.”

It is the hard work we put into the trip itself that is our victory, not getting to the destination.

Written by Dr Magda Rall

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