University of California San Diego Moores Cancer Center, a NCI designated cancer facility

University of California San Diego Moores Cancer Center, a NCI designated cancer facility

Cancer meds.jpg

Has cancer hijacked your relationship?

Are you feeling anxious and depressed?

Are you feeling you are no longer attractive and desired?

Do you beg your partner to attend appointments with you to no avail?

Are you able to discuss your fears with your partner?

Are you feeling alone in your journey as a cancer patient or as a caregiver to a patient?

Together Against Cancer, a workshop for cancer patients, spouses and partners, is offered several times a year at UCSD Moores Cancer Center, a National Cancer Institute. The workshop is based on Dr. Sue Johnson’s Emotionally Focused Therapy and her book, Hold Me Tight®. Through presentations, videos of real life couples and therapist assisted couples’ exercises, couples will learn the underlying causes of conflict and feelings of loneliness that dominate their relationship. Their and their partner’s behaviors will begin to make sense as couples listen to the presentation and explore their own relationship. Couples will learn to listen and be there for each other and in the process strengthen their relationship. Additionally, in Together Against Cancer workshops, special attention is given to the impact of a cancer diagnosis on a couple and how that diagnosis and the accompanying fears shift the relationship and the partners into new patterns of relating. Couples will learn how to prevent cancer from hijacking their relationship and how to build closeness, comfort, support, connection and trust. The quality of your relationship does matter when you face cancer.

Couple's questions answered (photo by Lamba Aziz-Hanifza)

Couple's questions answered (photo by Lamba Aziz-Hanifza)

There are two different Together Against Cancer workshops. One Together Against Cancer Workshop meets once for four hours. In this workshop, couples explore the impact of cancer on their relationship, begin to talk about the issues they have been unable to discuss and learn the importance of a secure and connected relationship to the well being of the cancer patient and partner. The second Together Against Cancer – Hold Me Tight® Workshop, a 16 hour program, meets for 4 hours on two Friday afternoons and 4 hours on two Saturday mornings with a weekend off between the two weekends. In this workshop, couples complete all the material in the 4 hour Together Against Cancer workshop plus they learn to understand their triggers, to make repairs and to forgive, to maintain physical touch and closeness and to keep their love alive for a lifetime.

Wanda has written an article for Coping with Cancer magazine.

Listen to Wanda discuss what helps couples cope when cancer enters their relationship.


“Wanda spoke the truth about connecting and how to navigate challenges in your relationship.”

Hearing what other participants said and being with others facing cancer was helpful.”

"I learned tools and language to use during moments of disconnection to maintain emotional closeness that is so important, especially when facing cancer."

“I learned the caregiver has “cancer”, too, and that it is important to allow time for self-care and self-love in order to be stronger and better love my husband.”

“It was powerful being with other couples going through a similar situation and hearing how they are navigating.”

“Wanda has the ability to share important information in a simple, easy to understand format.  My spouse was impacted in a positive way today.”  

“Wanda is compassionate and empathetic.

"The program has been a wonderful opportunity to enhance, expand and understand the dynamics of my relationship with my wife. Thank you for making my life better, for the rest of my life."

"I appreciate the safe space you created.  Our time with you was so beneficial, productive and quick! I think of you often with sincere gratitude."

"I learned more about my wife's experiences as a patient and feel even more connected to her.”

“This workshop helped me identify feelings that were running my interactions and responses. Once I understood what the “director” really was, I had a choice as to whether or not to use the “Hold Me Tight” exercises. Every time I made that choice, the outcome was a deeper appreciation of who I was and a more satisfying and nurturing connection with my husband.”

“My husband and I talked at lunch today. We were not talking about treatment, medicine or appointments. We were really talking for the first time.”

"The more we engage in deeper sharing the bonds get stronger."

"I learned the origin of the fears I have with my sweetheart (come from previous experiences) have nothing to do with him."

"The exercises were powerful."

"We have come a long way in our communication because of what you've have taught us and know the other couples will be enormously blessed as well."

Upcoming Together Against Cancer Workshops

Together Against Cancer - Hold Me Tight (4 part series - 16 hours)

May 24, 2019 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and May 25, 2019 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The Comer Commons at Moores Cancer Center

June 28, 2019 2:00 p.m. to 6 :00 p.m. and June 29, 2019 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The Jacobs Medical Center Community and Medical Education Room

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