Getting a breast cancer diagnosis is overwhelming, and sharing it with family and friends isn’t easy. But having their support throughout your journey is essential to healing. Here’s a guide to breaking the news to your loved ones. View slideshow.
Talking to your spouse about a breast cancer diagnosis is difficult. He or she may have a strong emotional response – fear, anxiety or even anger – but still feel helpless about the situation. Don’t let this keep you from sharing your diagnosis with your spouse. It’s important to communicate your needs and feelings so he or she understands what you need and want. Remember – your spouse loves you and wants to help. But don’t wait hoping he or she will know what to do without direction from you.
Pick a time when you won’t be interrupted and share your diagnosis in simple terms. Young children often have fears of separation or loneliness so be upfront with them and give them time to express their thoughts and concerns as well as ask questions. Young children love to be involved so it may help to have some ways they can assist you throughout your treatment and recovery.
Teens are in tune with what’s happening around them, making it especially important that you don’t try to hide your diagnosis. It’s important they hear things from you and not another family member or person in the community. Let them know it’s okay to express their feelings – even negative ones like anger or sadness. Teens don’t always ask for support when they need it, so it may be helpful to let their teachers, coaches and other important people in your teen’s life know what’s happening so they are aware of the situation.
Extended Family and Friends
Your extended family and friends will likely want to help once they learn of your diagnosis. But they might not know how. Many breast cancer patients find they are the recipient of lots of phone calls, text messages, questions and unwanted advice, which can end up causing more stress and anxiety. It may be helpful to find a way to keep your loved ones informed without direct communication. This can be achieved through creating a website or blog to document your journey. For example, CaringBridge allows cancer patients to create a personalized web page to share their experiences. This keeps everyone up to date on your treatment and how you’re feeling without having to constantly check in.
It’s important to understand everyone has a different way of coping with upsetting news. Some family members and friends may need time to process the information before they’re able to talk with or see you. It’s not uncommon for patients to say their spouse or family and friends are keeping their distance. Remember – your loved ones are also dealing with the shock of the diagnosis. But once they accept it, they’ll find ways to communicate with you and provide the support you need.