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Making time for intimacy after a brain tumour diagnosis

It’s easy for intimacy to take a back seat when you’re dealing with the physical, emotional and practical effects of a brain tumour diagnosis,

Fatigue, money worries, anxiety and depression can affect both partners equally. These can make it hard to prioritise the everyday intimate moments you normally share with your partner - from talking through your private thoughts or having a cuddle to just asking “How was your day?”

The new Relationship Support Service is the most flexible and personal service I've ever experienced. It's tailor made for my needs and the situation of a partner living with someone with a brain tumour.

Read Brendan's story

Brandon's partner experienced low moods following her brain surgery and the couple realised it was becoming difficult to jointly care for their daughter. Conflicts at home seemed compounded by lockdown.

Brandon found life a challenge and said he often felt tearful and was struggling to access support from his network because he felt he didn't want to burden them. That's when we introduced him to our new relationship service which Brandon says has been a great help;

"It has been really supportive. I've felt understood and backed. I've felt the therapist has been really there for me.

"It's relieved some pressure and given me a space to explore my emotions without worrying what the other person thinks or worrying that I need to protect them.

"I've had around half the allocated sessions and its been agreed I can reserve the remaining ones for as and when I need them - I feel this may be soon as my partner is due to have surgery in the next two months.

"It's the most flexible and personal service I've ever experienced, tailor made for my needs and the situation of a partner living with someone with a brain tumour."

Whether you’re currently in a relationship, or hoping to start a new one, our partnership with Relate can help you get the most out of your relationships. If you think talking to someone might help, click the link below to find out more about our new Relationship Support Service.

Intimacy doesn’t have to mean sex, but the effects of a brain tumour can make it harder to feel romantic. Physical and cognitive difficulties can all play their part, but there may be issues around body image too.

Bloating and weight gain are both common side-effects of treatments for brain tumours. It’s normal to feel self-conscious about the scars from neurosurgery or hair loss after chemotherapy.

It can be difficult to talk about sex and intimacy at the best of times, but communication can also be made harder by the effects of a brain tumour.

I felt better after having those conversations because my own guilt, about not being in the mood for sex, didn't hang over me every day.

Read Beth's story

You don’t need to go through this alone though. Relate offer a wide range of content to help people experiencing relationship difficulties and we’ve teamed up with them to provide a counselling service for couples and individuals whose relationship has been affected by a brain tumour.

Find out more

We know that, sadly, some people in our community have seen changes in their loved ones that have led to them being violent or aggressive, although this is rare. 

These changes can seem even more worrying in the current situation, but it’s important to remember that if this is something you’re experiencing, your safety is paramount and the current social distancing (or isolation) rules don’t apply if you need to leave your home to escape domestic violence.

If you feel you’re at risk of abuse, remember there’s help and support available, including police response, online support, helplines, refuges and other services.

You are not alone!

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This content and our relationship counselling service have been created in partnership with Relate, the leading relationships charity in England and Wales. If you found this information useful, you might also find the following resources by Relate interesting:

This content and our relationship support service has been created in partnership with Relate - the leading relationships charity in England and Wales.

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If you need someone to talk to or advice on where to get help, our Support and Information team is available by phone, email or live-chat.