THE BLOG

Cancer Doesn't Have to Stop You Being Young (And Having a Love Life If You Want One)

23/11/2015 15:59 GMT | Updated 23/11/2016 10:12 GMT

Managing your love life can be challenging at the best of times. But when you're going through cancer treatment it can be even more difficult to handle all the emotions and worries that come with being in a relationship, or looking for a partner.

I've been working with young people's cancer support charity CLIC Sargent on a free online guide to help those with cancer cope with any relationship and sex issues that they might have. The idea is that it will help people deal with key worries - from asking someone out to dealing with a break up or tackling intimate issues.

It might not be immediately obvious to people who haven't been through it themselves why young people with cancer might need specialised information and support.

But CLIC Sargent's recent survey of young cancer patients and cancer survivors makes it clear why.

The poll found that young people are more than twice as likely to have questions about relationships and sex after they are diagnosed with cancer. It also suggested that many of these questions are going unanswered.

By far the biggest concern identified by those already in a relationship was whether or not a partner would still find them attractive.

With such emphasis and pressure on young people to look a certain way, losing your hair while going through chemotherapy is tough. Other physical changes like putting on weight as a result of steroid treatment, or skin outbreaks, can make young cancer patients feel self-conscious, and not like themselves.

Sam, who features in a film for the new guide says that when she had cancer she'd written off dating completely until she met her boyfriend James. She told us how cancer made her feel like a shell of herself, that she found herself thinking 'who the hell would want to date me'?. She was surprised when James fancied her 'even though she didn't have hair'.

Hearing from people who've been through cancer themselves like Sam is really important.

But it's also important to speak to medical professionals about concerns you have around sex, something that all too often young people, whether they have cancer or not, just don't feel confident about.

It's really unsettling to hear that almost half of those polled by CLIC Sargent weren't sure about whether or not they could have sex while on treatment. Many find broaching the subject with their nurse or doctor too difficult, but they shouldn't. They have heard it all before, and won't be shocked or judge.

I really hope that the resource gives young people with cancer the advice and tips they might need to feel more confident about talking about this topic, so that questions and worries are dealt with and not hidden away.