Battle Scars: Relationships After Breast Cancer

Patricia Fox is a new contributor at YSC. Diagnosed with breast cancer at age 26, Patricia now shares her insights and deep wisdom in the hopes of encouraging other young adults like her. Read more about her and her work at thepinksistah.com.


Almost every survivor I have met or mentored has identified their beauty, grace, strength, and passions while battling breast cancer. And sometimes, those epiphanies lead us to evaluate our relationships.

Picture It: You’re On a Breast Cancer Battlefield

Already in a winning state of mind, you become the sergeant of your own army. You do all you must to not only survive but thrive in life. This army is your thoughts, which give you the encouragement and direction for a successful victory over this dis-ease. Upon conquer, there is a whole new territory to explore. There is a new life with new rules.

“For breast cancer survivors, we rise above the ashes of cancer like a phoenix from the flames. Adjusting to our new awesomeness can be quite a challenge at first. Particularly with how we see ourselves and our close relationships.”

After the smoke clears, some soldiers who were on the battlefield with you may still insist that despite your new knowledge, they still know what’s best for you. It’s at this time you promote, re-rank and even discharge!

Our most crucial relationships reflect who we are and affect our livelihood. It’s important your relationships are in good balance to support the wellness of this new self-loving, self-caring, self-aware you.

Before breast cancer, we may have worn fragrances or oils, cotton or lace, had great skin or impeccably applied cosmetics. Ultimately, beauty is personal and uniquely expressed. It is also ever evolving for every individual. For breast cancer survivors, we rise above the ashes of cancer like a phoenix from the flames. Adjusting to our new awesomeness can be quite a challenge at first. Particularly with how we see ourselves and our close relationships.

3 Tips for Managing Your Closest Relationships

So many factors affect our intimate relationships when we’re diagnosed with breast cancer or going through treatment. We’re healing both emotionally and physically. Our moods change from the side effects of our treatments. During these times, it’s essential we cultivate the support we need from our closest relationships.

Sometimes, intimacy is not just sex, but engaging in the interests and creating small moments with our partners. Here are some key things to rise above challenges.

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  1. Know that beauty is not just what you are, but who you are. It was once said, “Scars are the souvenirs of a battle won.”  And we all have heard, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Our ability to open ourselves up to intimacy has everything to do with how we see and feel about ourselves. Some celebrate their daily victory over this dis-ease by sporting their scars and newly bald crowns. Others continue their normal beauty routines, supplementing with wigs or headwraps in their process. There is no wrong way! But you must feel good about you. Intimacy will be much easier if you start with how you feel first.
  2. Side effects from breast cancer treatments can interrupt your libido, energy and willingness to create small beautiful moments with your partner. If this is you, share this with your significant other. Most likely the person you have chosen to be in your life will understand. This person values and supports you.
  3. Assure your partner how much you appreciate them, their patience and support. Intimacy can sometimes just be kind words, communicating what is right for you and how they contributed to the good in your life.

Social Creatures of Extraordinary Beauty

Some of you may have experienced a breakup or retreated from dating while battling cancer. It is important to not absorb negative thinking about yourself or hurtful and possibly insensitive things someone has said. Understand that placing fault and blame shouldn’t be the focus. Healing is the focus! It is knowing who and what you are. Beautiful, inside out and deserving, always.

“When I was battling cancer, I had just let go of some friendships that were not serving my healing. I tried dating, and it actually was not bad – once I got over myself!”

I was honest about my diagnosis, schedule and availability, abilities and restrictions. I didn’t take anyone seriously, however, until a couple years later. Even now, I sometimes struggle with allowing myself to be loved in places I don’t feel are so lovable or pleasing to the eye. Sharing this vulnerability and being open to my partner’s response has allowed me to truly know if this is someone I felt was a safe space for my healing self.

And so, I hope you are encouraged in knowing who you are, and what you are – beautiful! That you know there is no limit to what comprises the beautiful, conquering, healing you!

Communicating what supports the new you will ensure your close relationships continue to thrive. May you enjoy this new wellness and peace in all relationships, beginning within.


Patricia FoxPatricia Fox is a new contributor at YSC. Diagnosed with breast cancer at age 26, Patricia now shares her insights and deep wisdom in the hopes of encouraging other young adults like her. Read more about her and her work at thepinksistah.com.

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