• How do you tell friends and family that you have cancer without upsetting them badly?

    Asked by MyLungCancer on Tuesday, December 24, 2019

    How do you tell friends and family that you have cancer without upsetting them badly?

    I understand that some are more emotional than others, but some of my friends and relatives just have a blank look on their face and they get visibly uncomfortable. I just want to tell them in a manner that doesn't cause that. Any suggestions?

    15 Answers from the Community

    15 answers
    • wmsavs' Avatar
      wmsavs

      Hi @MyLungCancer, welcome to the group and a very interesting question you've posed. I don't know how small or large of an audience you intend on reaching, where your position is within your family, likewise your position with friends, etc. With that said, in general terms, I would suggest selecting the person you are closest with, that you can confide in and ask guidance from that person.

      Tactfully bring up your relationship with that person, how close to them you feel and that you need help from them. In all likelihood, that person has a lot of insight into how to approach each person within the group that you wish to tell. For the most part, I would certainly make this individualized to the person you wish to tell, unless it is suggested and you feel comfortable to just make a public announcement.

      Be prepared for the classic question, "Are you or were you a smoker?" Don't get upset, this is just a reflex question related to your disease. Most are very ignorant about cancer, what causes it, how it is now treated today and the great strides that have been made with those treatments. Be guided by their reactions and be open for questions and suggestions. Good luck and please keep us posted.

      5 months ago
    • Teachertina's Avatar
      Teachertina

      For me it was important to have more information myself before telling everyone. It helped to be able to tell them about what kind, what stage , what treatment was being recommended and expected recovery and long term outcome. Having the answers to some of these questions before they asked made it easier for me and them. It was still a shock to everyone but we had a plan for battle!

      5 months ago
    • JaneA's Avatar
      JaneA

      I agree with Teachertina - I waited until I got the results of staging scans and had visited my oncologist and knew the treatment plan. I was calm and optimistic (despite being Stage IV) and simply asked for their love and support.

      5 months ago
    • 2943's Avatar
      2943

      I was ‘the go to person’ for my Bff on explaining stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. She asked me to run interference so she could have normal time at meetings, etc. Three months later, I was facing two primary cancers. I did not want to go thru all the sad eyes, pity party comments, etc. again. I chose to tell a handful of people who would be directly effected by surgeries and treatment. 14 months later a third primary cancer was added to the ‘ugly list’. Now, 4 years later, a total of 15 people in 3 different states know. I think being’ normal ‘ got me back on track faster. Who REALLY needs to know? Good luck in your journey. So many break thrus have happened recently for us to take advantage of. Hugs!

      5 months ago
    • Shoeless' Avatar
      Shoeless

      Can't be done. Their reaction will be the same regardless how you tell them.

      5 months ago
    • Bloodproblems' Avatar
      Bloodproblems

      Thanks to everyone for your feedback on this. I have had a similar problem and was wondering how to approach the same thing. Some of my family are drama queens and I dread telling them. these are helpful points.

      5 months ago
    • 2943's Avatar
      2943

      Always nice to have someone who can run interference. I am still doing that as we enter year 4 for my friend. We have enough drama going thru cancer treatments. We do NOT need others baggage. My Bff’s mom ( when she was finally told ) made it all about her and ‘oh poor me’. Think about where you will be comfortable and go there. This is about being in the best place for YOU. Go for it!

      5 months ago
    • MyLungCancer's Avatar
      MyLungCancer

      Thanks for your feedback i appreciate it. I will try to apply some of this.

      5 months ago
    • 2943's Avatar
      2943

      Contact me if things get goofy! This journey is full of ups and downs. You are the captain of the team and can tell anyone to stop, slow down, I need a time out. It is okay. I have been called ‘amazing’ by docs. Why? I want to be the best, cooperative patient. I believe in being positive as I kick C’s butt.

      5 months ago
    • Bengal's Avatar
      Bengal

      I remember thinking "this is happening to me, not them. I can't be too concerned about what their reaction is going to be because there's nothing I can really do about it". I told immediate family but didn't really want it to become common knowledge until I'd had some time to just absorb the diagnosis myself. I let a handful of closest friends know but asked them to keep it to themselves for a while. I eventually reached a point where I no longer cared who knew. It kinda becomes obvious when you no longer have hair!

      5 months ago
    • GregPWN's Avatar
      GregPWN

      For my current diagnosis, I haven't been as distraught over it as I was for my first 3. I can't explain why but I have the attitude for this one that OK, I have this again, what do we have to do to get it out? I have noticed that when I have told a few people about my new diagnosis that they are visibly shocked, or upset, or uncomfortable at the least. I have had a few that tried to say something but could only get a very shaky I'm sorry out. I have changed the subject for them and talked about something else so they didn't feel bad for not knowing what to say.

      5 months ago
    • PaulineJ's Avatar
      PaulineJ

      I don't have that problem.I have no family or friends that care one way or another about anything even strangers and acquaintances just say I'm sorry, or just ignore you..nothing supportive.It's a very lonely life when you're completely alone and ignored and rejected for 75 years,when you loved and never got it back.And it's not just me that has this experience,So sad!

      5 months ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar
      GregP_WN

      @PaulineJ, I'm sorry you find yourself in that position. It's not fair for sure. I see this from time to time and it makes me want to just grab ahold of some people and shake some sense into them. Our parents, or elders in general, deserve respect, attention, and help/support when it's needed. When my parents died my wife and I, along with my two brothers and their wives took care of them. The same when my wife Donna's Mom was in bad health, we took care of her. just like they took care of us when we were babies. It's a reversal of the roles, it's our turn to take care of them. We wish you the best and hopefully can find a little support from some people. Maybe your church has people that will stop in and check on you from time to time?

      5 months ago
    • PaulineJ's Avatar
      PaulineJ

      Thank You, Greg,
      All I did for a long time is ask for help on a few important things like shoveling me out in the winters.I gave up on that too.
      The more winters we go through the harder it gets to deal with snow and cold.
      I just don't understand why I'm so different than others that are so happy in this life.I'm not better or worst than them, I don't think.
      But I made it this far without other humans>lol! I guess I'll continue going on and on.

      5 months ago
    • LiveWithCancer's Avatar
      LiveWithCancer

      My husband and I resolved to tell my mom (who lost 2 husbands to cancer, including my 49-year-old dad to the same lung cancer as I have) and our son, who was an only child and very close to us ... and a worrier ... that i had lung cancer, but it wasn't that big a deal (stage 4, 4-month prognosis).

      We kept an upbeat attitude and i maintained my lifestyle as much as possible. It took awhile but i think my mom has quit worrying much about me and my health and our son passed away last year of heart disease.

      My friends and other family, i told on FB. Like with my mom and son, we told the facts, but in the most positive way possible.

      I was diagnosed in November 2012. I have been able to live a full and happy life since my diagnosis and everyone sees that. I don't concentrate on my cancer and neither do they.

      5 months ago

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