How to tell a loved one that you have cancer?

by ANITHA B

17 April,2020 | 3 months read

One of the hardest parts of coping with cancer is telling your loved one that you are suffering from it. This is especially hard for someone who has been diagnosed with any cancer which is incurable.

But once you break them the news they may show varied reactions and ultimately accept and cope with it. But the question of how do you say it? When is the right time? How do you discuss important decisions with them is always a big question.

There is no right way to tell people that you have cancer. You might break the news differently with each person. You may have apprehension about how your family and friends will feel. This is normal.

Encouraging them to express their feelings will help you both work through your feelings together. Sometimes, people are unsure of what to say or they fear that they might say something wrong or hurtful.

The first thing to do is to figure out how you feel and what you are comfortable sharing with others. Some people choose to discuss these with a mental health professional first. A therapist then can help you decide what you want to say and how you want to say it. 

It is important to prepare for difficult conversations which will help things to go smoothly. Take time to think about how you feel, who you want to tell, how you want to do it, and when you want to break the news.

Figure out how you feel: A good first setup is to figure out how you feel. It is necessary to know how you feel which allows you to process your emotions and determine the kind of support you need the most. This will help you to know how to respond when people ask how they can help you.

At first, the feeling of grief about the diagnosis may seem paralyzing. You may feel depressed, confused, shocked or numb. Take time to see how you feel and then share your feeling with the closest loved ones to get the emotional support you need.

Determining who to tell: You get to decide who to tell. It might be helpful to make a list of people you want to talk and then you can make another list of friends and acquaintances and a friend and family member to reach out to them with the news.

If you are employed, think about who to tell at your work. It is important to tell human resources and your supervisor that you have a medical condition problem that may require time off. 

Consider when and where: Please think about when and where you want to tell your loved ones about the news. Breaking the news to loved ones will be hard and it will also be difficult for them to hear about it. You want to do it at an appropriate time and place.

You may want to reach out to say you want to talk about something difficult and ask if there is a preferred time and place to have such a conversation. It is not necessary that you have to tell the loved one right away and you can take your time to process your feeling and tell them when you are ready.

Think about how you want to do it: You may find it beneficial to journal or think about the way you want to tell others. Try different approaches until you learn what works for you. It’s okay if you get emotional or need to ask for emotional or practical support.

You can decide how much you want to share. It is important to think about whom you are addressing and whether you need to rephrase the words. This is especially important when telling children or teens about their cancer diagnosis

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