Family & Relationships

Mesothelioma can strain your relationship with your family and friends.

When you learn you have mesothelioma, the whole dynamic can change between you and your family, friends, and coworkers. Some people will avoid you. Others will shower you with attention and affection – probably more than you want or need. Many will approach you uncomfortably, not knowing what to say and tripping over their words as they try to express their feelings. It can be difficult for everyone involved, but knowing what to expect can help you deal with it.

Talking to Others about your Cancer

Talking to friends, family, and co-workers about your cancer may be the last thing you want to do. Some people choose to let others explain things for them. Others are afraid they’ll cry or otherwise lose control of their emotions. You might be worried how your friends and family will react.

Choosing who to tell about your cancer and when to tell them is entirely up to you. Usually, if a mesothelioma patient decides not to tell, it’s because they don’t want to be treated differently now that word of their disease is out. Others just believe that it’s a personal situation to be kept between themselves and their families. However, as the disease progresses and causes physical changes, coworkers, friends, and extended family will usually figure out that something’s amiss. At that point, you might decide you want to talk about your cancer in order to stop the rumor mill and set the record straight.

Talking to Children or Grandchildren

If you have young children or grandchildren, you might be wondering whether or not to talk with them about your mesothelioma. However, children usually figure out very quickly that there’s a problem. And if you don’t tell them, they might hear about your illness from a well-meaning friend or family member.

Most psychologists agree that talking about your cancer with the young children close to you is a good idea. If it’s too difficult for you to do yourself, it’s okay to have another family member talk to them. Very young children won’t understand specifics, but they will understand explanations such as “Grandpa is sick and won’t always be able to do the things he used to do with you,” or “Dad’s losing his hair because he’s taking medicine to help him feel better.” Remember, it’s important not to instill fear in the child, telling them only as much as they can handle at one time.


For many cancer patients, sex is the furthest thing from their mind. For others, it’s an opportunity to feel comforted and close to the person they love the most. How you view your sexuality after your cancer diagnosis is very personal, but it’s important to understand that things will most certainly change. Communication with your partner is very important. Most will be very understanding.

You may eventually find that the experience of having sex with the person you love, even if it’s different than what you did before, will make you feel better, even if only for a short time. Being in someone else’s loving arms is always a positive thing!

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