the couple going through the ordeal of most cancers | EUROtoday

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L'announcement had the impact of an “explosion”. Aurélia Bobbia is 23 years previous, she lives in Marseille, research design and has been in a relationship with Rémi for 3 years. Subject to signs for a number of months, she multiplies the examinations, and the analysis “falls”. Stage 4 T-cell lymphoma.

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As 3.8 million French individuals, and greater than 400,000 individuals annually (National Cancer Institute), the younger girl declared most cancers. News as unfair as it’s painful: “We don’t expect that at such a young age, especially with such a poor prognosis…”

Aware of the ordeal that awaits her, she questions her companion: “I asked Rémi if he was capable of supporting this or if I should face it alone,” she continues. “He replied: “There’s no way I’m going anywhere else.” »

If the onset of most cancers is at the beginning a private upheaval, Aurélia – who has already skilled the illness in her household – additionally is aware of how a lot it could actually destabilize these round her. Particularly the one who shares the affected person's life.

“Cancer puts the partner, and by extension the couple, to the test,” confirms Fabienne Kraemer, psychoanalyst physician and writer of I handle my relationship (PUF, 2013). In reality, “the outbreak of illness is also the outbreak of worry and unhappiness,” she explains, “of an increased risk which reminds us that we are mortal and that the future could change. darken. It suddenly changes the whole atmosphere…”.

A projection made troublesome

“Illness, treatments but also death become, suddenly and in spite of ourselves, subjects that we must address… However, it is sometimes despairing,” confirms Aurélia, as we speak in remission, or in stabilization of the illness.

Fact, the long run, having turn out to be unsure or compromised, it turns into troublesome, even painful, to “maintain a projection into the future”, underlines Bernard Andrieu, professor of philosophy at Paris-Cité University and writer of the work Sick nonetheless alive (The Whisper, 2016).

Particularly within the couple, the place “cancer suddenly brings together the symbolic time of the union and the biological time of the individual”, he specifies: “The second alters the first, and breaks the idea of ​​continuity in which the partners had projected themselves. » A feeling all the more significant as the present, punctuated by illness, returns to the “foreground”.

“Luckily, I can count on Jean* every day…”, confides Monique*, 62 years previous. Diagnosed with breast most cancers, with recurrence, 13 and 4 years earlier, this girl from Nice noticed her husband enhance his power to compensate for his bodily incapacity. “He takes me to all my appointments, follows me through each of my exams…” Logistical and ethical help: “Without him, I don’t know how I would have done…”

A combat led together »

“Some partners will feel invested with a mission, others, through a mirror effect, will become weakened, still others, surprised, by one or other of the reactions…”, feedback Fabienne Kraemer.

A ability in help, which will depend on the accomplice's personal response to the sickness but additionally, and above all, on the “quality” of the couple's earlier relationship, was the German psychology professor Corinna Bergelt, in a large-scale survey dedicated to the topic, in 2008.

So Monique, who has shared Jean's life for over forty years, remembers with emotion: “My husband shaved his head at the same time as me. With this gesture, he said to me: “We are fighting this fight together”…”

A powerful image, as a result of “cancer, precisely, disrupts the balance of the couple”, recollects Fabienne Kraemer: “One is affected and the other is not, one is suffering, the other is helping. These positions are, in themselves, a test for the couple, who are less a team “together” than “for each other”. »

Intimate life and dialogue

A imbalance which additionally impacts intimacy. “Maintained or not, desire is generally transformed by this ordeal on both sides,” signifies physique thinker Bernard Andrieu. Even in case you are empathetic, it turns into obscure how a lot the sick accomplice's “sensory scale” might have modified, he explains. Hence the significance of dialogue, the one one able to stopping “misunderstandings” and “distancing”.

“With chemotherapy, my libido disappears, like a switch being turned off,” Aurélia recollects. A state of affairs that she and her companion compensate for “without difficulty”: “We have created another intimacy, non-sexual, based on everyday tenderness,” confides the younger girl.

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Sexuality at half mast, harshness of the challenges, projection made troublesome… The figures additionally present data on this different actuality: many {couples} can’t resist the repercussions of the illness. As revealed by the scientific journal Cancerin 2017: of 58% of respondents residing as a pair, 43% had been nonetheless in a relationship two years after analysis.

More considerably, the separation price reached 20.8% within the case of feminine most cancers, in comparison with 2.9% when it affected males – i.e. a seven instances increased danger of rupture for the feminine accomplice. Figures that the authors of the research attribute, primarily, to problems affecting emotional and sexual life.

The ethics of care »

Another lesson from this survey: a number of patients declared that they were experiencing psychological difficulties due to lack of sufficient “moral support”. A state of affairs which, sadly, doesn’t shock Fabienne Kraemer: “We know that the ethics of care [soin, NDLR]or empathy and the ability to care for others, remains rather feminine…”

However, there is no shortage of counter-examples of men devoting themselves body and soul to their partner. “He did everything for me and his presence was constant,” confirms Aurélia.

Basically, sickness “reveals the gaps in fragile {couples} and unites the strongest “, expresses the psychoanalyst. Who sees there a advantage : Know the place we stand with love. » Monique assures her: “This ordeal has strengthened our bonds. »

* First names have been modified