Top Ten Ways to Tell A Loved One
One of the hard things about a new cancer diagnosis is telling those we love. Telling our children is especially difficult, and I will write another (at least one) blog about that. Sharing the news with our parents, siblings, close friends, and others who are close to us is tough, too.
Over the years, I have learned that there are no rules about how to do this. And I have learned that there are no rules about whom we tell. Although it seems obvious that a woman would always tell her mother (unless they are completely estranged), I have learned there are times when it might be better not to do so. For example, a very old and frail mother who lives far away, who will not expect to see you twice weekly and won't notice if you look differently, might be protected by not knowing.
Over the course of many conversations individually and in groups about this issue, I have developed this list. Hope that it is helpful.
Top 10 ways to tell a loved one that you have breast cancer
1. There is no easy way to tell a loved one that you have breast cancer.
2. If possible, tell him/her in person, sitting close enough to touch.
3. If you have to share the news by phone, begin by saying that you have some bad news; give him/her a moment to prepare.
4. Reassure the people who love you that you are seeing good doctors, getting great care, AND that you expect to be fine.
5. Use the real words; say "breast cancer."
6. Especially reassure your children that you are going to be fine. Worry about the future is for adults, not for them.
7. When you share the news of the diagnosis, try to also be ready to share some of the plan. If you don't yet know what your treatment will be, at least give some indication when you expect to have this information.
8. Be ready to suggest what they can do to help: come to take care of you or your family after surgery, drive you to appointments, tell some more distant family members.
9. Appreciate that they are sad and scared, and this does impact their lives.
10. BUT remember that this is about you and your needs come first.