7th Jul, 2022

Coventry mum speaks of sex and relationships 'taboo' during cancer battle

A COVENTRY mother-of-five has revealed her cancer diagnosis nearly destroyed her marriage – and wants to shed light on the ‘hidden effects’ of the disease.

Rachel Parsons, 47, who lives near Sandy Lane, Coventry, was diagnosed with mouth cancer in 2008.

Despite her positive response to treatment over the years, Ms Parsons explains how cancer has taken its toll on her personal relationship with her husband, Tim.

A poll for cancer charity Macmillan by YouGov reveals ‘sex and relationships’ is the number one ‘taboo’ issue for West Midlands couples affected by cancer – with 56 per cent saying they find such matters hard to discuss.

Ms Parsons said: “Life was hard after I had my first major operation.

“Tim was only entitled to one day off work, which he took when I had my operation.

“Tim continued going to work, looking after me and all five of our children.

“Later that month, Tim and I had fallout and arguing became more frequent.

“We didn’t talk to each other. He didn’t want to talk to me and I didn’t want to talk to him.

“I didn’t want to put any more pressure on him by explaining how I felt. Eventually our marriage crumbled.

“I said I didn’t want him anymore but agreed to allow the minister who married us to come and mediate.

“We spoke to each other openly for the first time in a long time and it wasn’t until afterwards that I realised that Tim felt useless.

“He was used to being able to help people in their possible worst times in their lives and there was nothing he could do to help take the pain away from me.

“Cancer nearly destroyed my marriage. But, 10 years on, we are now stronger than ever.”

Rachel also says that the physical changes she experienced as a result of surgery and treatment effected her personal relationship with her husband because she felt unable to be intimate with him.

She said: “It took a very long time to adapt to the physical changes that followed surgery and treatment, and, at the time, I felt I couldn’t have a relationship with my husband.

“I felt ugly and being able to see my scars whilst trying to be intimate was very depressing.”

To get help from Macmillan, visit macmillan.org.uk or call the support line on 0800 808 0000.

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