I told immediate family instantly because I needed support to keep my household running smoothly. The thought of telling extended family hadn’t crossed my mind. Years later when I was visiting, one of them commented on how my “boob job” looked great! I laughed; she didn’t know what I had to endure to get these boobs.
I then told her my story of getting new boobs “the hard way.”
This was a mentally draining and difficult task. How do I tell a loved one “I have cancer?” Your approach to this question depends on your beliefs about your cancer diagnosis. Your belief system will shape this and other issues surrounding your cancer. No one can expect any lucidity after you are first diagnosed. It is hard enough for you to wrap your head around this diagnosis. Sharing it with others is exposing something so private and personal, you might want to keep it to yourself. No matter how challenging it is, you NEED the support of loved ones and close friends.
When I was first diagnosed, I was embarrassed like I had some control over this disease, and it was my fault. I felt shame! I was in the fight of my life and did not want to share because it was too revealing. I experienced lumpectomies, mastectomies, and reconstruction surgeries and shared with only a select few. I did not realize at the time that not sharing robbed me of productive support. Refusing to share kept me in a place of anger and denial. Which is explored on the Kubler-Ross theory of Grief in blog.
If you believe that only dark days are ahead, they will too. It is understandable to feel vulnerable, depressed, or even hopeless. You just got the most trying news of your life. The way you share this precious news is personal. Just present the facts as reported to you. Make it clear that you have limited information and emotionally cannot answer questions.
It is so important to get the support you need. Don’t be afraid to share your diagnosis with those close to you. Like I mentioned earlier, how you frame your diagnosis shapes the way they will deal with the news. If you are hopeful, you will give them hope! It will allow them to see another side of cancer that they may have never seen. They may no longer equate it with doom and despair
It will take time to move through the stages of grief, as shown in Kubler-Ross’s Grief model. It may not feel like it now, but you will progress through these stages and end with the final stage of Acceptance. As for now, accept that you are on a life-challenging journey and hold on tight!