How to Talk to Your Loved Ones About Cancer Being a Part of Your Life

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Discovering that you have cancer is a seismic moment in your life and the news will be the catalyst for a number of changes in your life and it will also have an impact on your loved ones.

There are likely to be many questions that you will have about your cancer diagnosis and it is likely that you will be experiencing a degree of emotional turmoil as you digest the prognosis that has been delivered to you.

There is always help for cancer patients available and a support network can make a difference in how you cope, and the support of your loved ones will often be crucial at such a difficult time.

Telling loved ones about your cancer

The specter of cancer hangs over many families but it is no less overwhelming when it is a situation that you find you are going to have to contend with personally.

When you are trying to tell your loved ones about your situation you will almost certainly be met with a mixture of emotions and responses and it would be a good idea to try and prepare yourself for this scenario.

Someone who loves you will probably be very fearful about the prospect of losing you to cancer and not everyone knows how to react when they are told such devastating news about a person who is close to their heart.

We are all different, and some of your loved ones might find it very challenging to talk to you about your cancer, mainly because they are fearful of the prospect of upsetting you.

Others might be more capable of engaging in a frank conversation with you and some friends and relatives might become very guarded in their conversations with you, or go the other way and act too cheerfully as a response mechanism.

A range of emotions

The first point to make is that you will experience a wide range of emotions as you digest details of your diagnosis and come to terms with the treatment options being suggested to you.

Understanding how cancer will affect your emotions and coming to terms with the diagnosis as best you can should make it easier to cope with the different responses you can expect from loved ones.

You can probably expect to feel a degree of anger and resentment that you have had your life impacted in such a bad way and it is also perfectly normal to feel an overwhelming sense of sadness or fear of what lies ahead.

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It should also be noted that once you start your cancer treatment there is a good chance that you will experience some physical and emotional changes. Understanding these responses and trying to embrace the situation as positively as possible should prepare you better for being able to talk to others about your cancer.

Preparing yourself for difficult conversations

Putting things into perspective, dealing with a cancer diagnosis is considerably tougher than having to tell people you love about your situation, although it can still be very hard to have that difficult conversation with people you love and care for.

Only you can decide when you are emotionally as ready as possible to tell loved ones that you have cancer.

It may well be that you want to try and come to terms with your cancer diagnosis internally before you are ready to tell others, or you might decide that you feel the need to talk to loved ones as a way of trying to process the information fully.

There is no right or wrong when it comes to how long you take to tell loved ones and you often have to trust your own instincts as to when the time is right.

Who to start with

Your spouse or partner will probably be the first person you talk to about your cancer and you might find it easier to get their support while you find out all the treatment options and what your prognosis is.

Having your partner or spouse with you will provide the love and support you need at such a trying time and it often helps to have someone else who can ask some of the questions you might not have thought of at the time.

If you are able to keep a clear head, it can often help to write down a set of key questions that you want answers to while you think of them, then bring that list with you when you go for a consultation.

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If you have children


There is no question that having to tell your children that you have cancer is probably going to be one of the most emotionally challenging conversations you are ever likely to have.

How you approach the conversation and what level of information you give your children will often depend on their age.

Children under the age of eight will not normally need to be given detailed information, which they may be unable to process fully, and the older they get the more they will need to know about your condition.

It is best to provide basic information at first, such as what type of cancer you have and what part of your body has been affected.

Pick a quiet time and choose a moment when you have your own emotions under as much control as possible.

The general suggestion for telling loved ones and people you know or work with about your cancer is to start with those that are closest to you and widen your circle of who you talk to as time moves on.

If you can, try to tell your loved ones how you are feeling and talk as openly as possible about your treatment options and prognosis. That is easier said than done, but it often helps your loved ones to give you the support you are looking for when they know how you are feeling and what it is you want from them in response to your cancer news.

Also, consider reaching out for support outside of your friends and family network as it can be really helpful to talk to others in the same situation as yourself trying to come to terms with a cancer diagnosis.