Can a relationship survive breast cancer?

In Portugal, breast cancer has one of the highest survival rates in Europe. Nevertheless, after a diagnosis many women end up facing not only the disease, but also the end of their relationship.

Catia Bruno
Cátia Bruno NewsMavens, Portugal
Can a relationship survive breast cancer? - NewsMavens
cancer headline, PixaBay

Why this story matters:

Portugal has one of the lowest mortality rates for breast cancer in all of Europe, probably due to the fact that more than 80% of the female population is regularly scanned for the disease. In spite of that, 11 new women are diagnosed every day. And even though treatment is usually effective, the toll it takes on women's lives is great.

Not only do they have to deal with cancer, the treatment side effects and the traumatizing scars of breast removal, many women also have to face a lack of support by their partners.

It is not unusual for relationships to fall apart following a diagnosis.

Sometimes it is the woman who ends it after realizing her partner is not fully committed. Other times, it is the partner who leaves. Only in some cases does love persevere.

In the article below, affected women discuss their experiences, revealing that dealing with a life-threatening disease can be made significantly harder by feelings of abandonment.

Details from the story:

  • A partner can declare his/her love after a diagnosis and still end up not being supportive enough. This happened to Ana Lopes. She caught her partner searching for other women and put an end to the relationship.
  • Diana and her boyfriend had been together for two years when she found a nodule in one of her breasts. Their relationship could not handle it and a year later it ended, but Diane does not harbor any ill feelings towards her former partner.
  • In Célia's case, cancer brought out her husband's worst side. He could not handle it and would make fun of everything. This lack of support led to a separation. 
  • Isadora's boyfriend simply ghosted her over time: it started physically, but at a certain point he ceased replying to her text messages.
  • Patrícia feels so scarred by the end of her relationship due to cancer that nowadays she refuses to get emotionally involved again.
  • Carmen and Sílvia are living proof cancer does not always kill love. Sílvia's husband stood by her the whole way, and the breast removal did not impact their sexual relationship. As for Carmen, she and Nuno fell in love while she was undergoing treatment.

Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
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