If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, it’s important to maintain a support network of friends and family, but discussing your illness can be awkward and uncomfortable. How do you decide whom to tell and what to tell them?
Sharing Your Cancer Diagnosis
- Your situation is unique. How and when you inform loved ones is up to you, not some arbitrary timetable. Take time to explore your own thoughts and emotions, giving yourself permission to experience them honestly.
- Once you’re ready to start telling others, make a list of those you want to talk to in person. This group will most likely include your spouse or significant other along with other family members, followed by close friends. You may want to let these people break the news to more casual acquaintances.
- If you work, not everyone in the office has to have the same level of information. You should tell your supervisor and human resources manager, since treatment will probably affect your work schedule. With co-workers, you might want to let them know with a general email or statement and then share details individually as you see fit.
Handling the Reactions
- Most people will offer assistance, so be prepared with an answer. If you do want help, give them specific suggestions.
- Sometimes people make inappropriate or thoughtless comments. Keep in mind that such behavior stems from their own discomfort or insecurities and shouldn’t be taken personally.
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