• How do you tell estranged family members of your cancer diagnosis?

    Asked by derbygirl on Monday, May 21, 2012

    How do you tell estranged family members of your cancer diagnosis?

    I have not spoken with my Maternal Aunts in over 20 years. I was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer and feel it wise to tell family so they can advise their doctors. I have spoken with one female cousin but I have no contact with 4 others. I sent an email to their Mother who replied that her girls are all professional and take good care of themselves. I've worked in the medical field and know how important it is to have a complete family history especially where cancer is concerned and feel that my 4 female cousins need to know but their Mother is now blocking attempts to contact them even though they are adults. My other Maternal Aunts are no help either and I feel like I've struck a brick wall. I expected nothing less from this particular Aunt but can't help feeling responsible to notify my younger cousins. Any advice is appreciated because I would feel responsible if they were not aware and then faced a diagnosis of their own.

    7 Answers from the Community

    7 answers
    • CarolLHRN's Avatar

      You can only do so much. It seems like you have done everything you can at this point. I understand your concern about having your cousins aware for their health but if you can't reach them, you know you have done your best to warn them.

      It's time for you to focus on you and take good care of you. The added stress of worrying about your cousins is not going to help you. Hopefully your aunt will pass on the news.

      Take good care of yourself.

      over 4 years ago
    • steve70x7's Avatar

      I know the feeling. With me it's my adult children. Carol gave you good advice "It's time for you to focus on you and take good care of you."

      Take care, be strong and get well.

      over 4 years ago
    • leepenn's Avatar

      Perhaps a short but clear note via snail mail... Perhaps to one or two for whom you have solid addresses and requesting that they let others know. And then breathe... and let it go.
      I don't know my family history - people ask me over and over and over, but I don't have contact with my birth family.
      Yeah - it's important to know...
      But, it's not a deal breaker.
      I am able to still get good care and make quality decisions regarding my health.
      My adopted son will probably also have a similar issue.
      We are attempting to set him up for a healthful life through exercise, diet, and all of that. But, I'll never be able to get the extensive birth family information that many people have. I've made peace with that for both myself and for my son.

      Best wishes and AWESOME that you are trying to do this for your birth family members.... You are a good and kind person to go through that effort. Hopefully, at least some of them will find out and have that information for making their own health care decisions.

      over 4 years ago
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      You might be interested in the short article from John's Hopkins University: http://ovariancancer.jhmi.edu/hereditary.cfm

      Statistically only 10% of Ovarian cancers are the result of genetic disposition, and less than that without an existing direct (e.g. mother, grandmother, etc.) history of ovarian cancer. Given that, it is highly unlikely that your cancer would be an indication of higher risk for cousins, unless their mothers (your Aunts) have/had ovarian cancer.

      over 4 years ago
    • jamrck's Avatar

      The other respondents make good points; however, on another level I can appreciate why you want to make the contact. Try www.whitepages.com. You might be able to get a phone number and address.

      over 4 years ago
    • eccrine100's Avatar

      Have you checked facebook? it's the only place I can contact my family these days, especially if they are younger.

      over 4 years ago
    • Cath1953's Avatar

      That is very hard. When my dad passed in 1982 I wasn't talking to my mom (family argument) so what I did at the wake was tell my mom I was pregnant. I didn't get a very nice responce from my mom she said ( How can you have another child with that XXX?) I said I want another child and i love Joe. She said nothing. Acouple years later evrrything was fine. That was in 1984, He was born in 1983. Now we are on the outs again, she is 83. I'm very upset over thi .She has Dymentia and my husband does not understand it. I've worded with that for years. Tried to tell him but, no he doesn't care. He hates her. I'm angry with her but she is 83. I'm at wits end.

      over 4 years ago

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