Telling Family and Friends, You Have Cancer

I never sat around wondering if I was going to get breast cancer. Why would I? No one in our family has ever had cancer before.

So, when my husband and I went in to talk with the doctor about my test results, I was shocked…to say the least. My body reacted…dry mouth, racing heart, sinking stomach, sweaty palms, numbness, flushed faced, and feeling faint. All while my husband is sitting next to me and not noticing my inner panic.

No matter what anyone says, it is the absolute worst day of your life. We can’t live in this state for long without our body shutting down. Mercifully, this shall pass. Denial, frantic research, anger, depression, and eventually acceptance.

I felt inadequate in the task of telling my family and friends. I mean really…what do you say? And how do you say it?

I had made my decision to have a bilateral mastectomy. And I knew my mother would try and talk me out of it. I knew my step-Mother would cry. My sister would listen and accept my decision. My sister-in-law would back my decision 100%…but might be miffed at me because I would want her to tell my brother for me. All of those situations played out as I thought.

My daughters…well, Misty (the youngest) I just came right out and told her. And I really got no reaction. I am guessing she trusted my judgement, or just didn’t want to believe me. Dani (my oldest) didn’t answer her phone. So, I just sent her a message. To which she didn’t reply.

Then, I sent a mass text to other family and close friends. Telling them I would message again later with more details.

After telling my family and friends, I did a lot of praying and soul searching. I decided to start a Facebook page recording my journey. At the same time, my sister was sitting in church in Perris, California thinking I should do the same thing. Great minds think alike!

Finding out you have cancer is overwhelming for you, as well as family and friends. People often have no clue how to respond to what you have told them. They may feel sad, uncomfortable and will most likely be afraid of upsetting you with their reaction. Plus, they will be afraid of the possibility that they will loose you in the near future. Some find it easy to talk about, while others will be overly careful or try and act cheerful.

Only you can decide which family and friends to tell. People are very set back by news of someone having cancer. Sometimes telling those closest to you helps you take in the reality of what is happening. Sometimes, their reaction just makes you feel worse.

Think about how much you want to share…type of cancer, possible treatment path, and your outlook or prognosis.

If you work, you need to decide on how much information you are willing to put out there. Co-workers and acquaintances often find out later, although, you may need to go to your supervisor or Human Resources to request the time you will need off for recovery.

Remember, there is no plan book for this situation, and there is no one right answer for everyone–it depends on your preferences and everyone you choose to inform.

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