Telling those you love that you have cancer is one of the most painful conversations you will ever have. Who to tell and how much to tell are all considerations and must be made thoughtfully. Even if you are not facing such a diagnosis, someone you love may be. Those on both sides of the conversation may need some direction. Here are some thoughts on how to tell family and friends about a cancer diagnosis.
Take Time To Process
If you have been told you have cancer, it is shocking, frightening, and sad all at once. If the prognosis is a negative one, it is even more difficult to think about- let alone discuss with someone else.
Give yourself the time to understand your prognosis, your treatment options, and let it settle within you. Maybe a session with a psychologist or social worker may help at this point before you open up to others. If you have a spouse or partner, it would be helpful if they participate.
You Are In Control Of The Information
There might not be much you feel in control of right now, but who to tell, when to tell them, and how much information to share is all your decision.
Decide who will be affected the most. Your immediate family and your closest friends are integral parts of your support system. Your employer will be affected as treatments will keep you from normal working hours. You might consider a priority list.
Public Vs Private Support
Depending on your personality and how open you are to support, some cancer patients find comfort in sharing their diagnosis on social media. This type of person finds daily posts of support helpful during their treatment process. Their friends and family can provide ongoing love and encouragement without being face to face.
Others wouldn’t dream of sharing such private information online. Again, this is all your decision, and there needn’t be any judgement either way.
You Set The Boundaries
Be comfortable if you only want to tell a few people at first. It’s not necessary to tell everyone at once. In addition, not everyone needs to find out directly from you.
Later on you might designate a specific person to share with others and give updates.
You don’t have to share everything with everyone. Be comfortable saying: I really don’t wish to discuss this right now. Let’s talk later.
Dealing With The Reactions Of Others
It’s important to recognize that friends and relatives are just doing the best they can, and so are you. You may have to learn how and when to end a conversation without being rude.
Loved ones really do want to help, and you may not know how they can at a particular moment. Let them know you will get back to them with specific needs later.
For the most part, cancer patients find relief in talking about their condition with a loved one. Find the person you trust the most in your life and know they will be there to listen.