How to Tell Your Family About a Cancer Diagnosis

How to Tell Your Family About a Cancer Diagnosis

Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be a shocking experience. For many patients, the hardest part is breaking the news to their loved ones. They never imagined they’d have to tell their children, grandchildren or parents that they have a serious medical condition.

Before becoming overwhelmed, take a few deep breaths. Only you can decide when it’s the right time to tell your friends and family. While they will likely be as upset and shocked as you are, their support can be a crucial part of your treatment.

Oftentimes, a patient will bring a family member to their first appointment. If this is the case, the person you bring can help you decide how to tell the rest of your loved ones.

Support Groups

At Hematology & Oncology Consultants of Pennsylvania, we have a support group that meets monthly. Patients and their family/friends are encouraged to come. It is a safe place for patients and their guests to share stories and advice with each other.

Support groups or therapy sessions with a licensed professional can be a valuable asset to both patients and their loved ones.

Beyond Family

After your family and close friends are aware of your diagnosis, you might consider telling co-workers and other acquaintances. Different people require different levels of information. For example, your Human Resource department or direct supervisor might need more information than a co-worker.

Although it can be uncomfortable to tell others about your diagnosis, it doesn’t have to be something that defines you. Cancer and the subsequent treatment are just one part of your life.

Receiving Support

For many people, asking for help is difficult. The people around you likely want to help in any way they can. Never be afraid to ask for what you need, even if what you need is just privacy and time to yourself.

When people say unhelpful things, just remember that they have good intentions. Some people might try to cheer you up, ask probing questions or give unsolicited advice to show support. If that isn’t what you need at the moment, it is okay to have an open conversation about it or excuse yourself from the conversation.

Communicating with people about cancer isn’t easy but, with the right resources, you and your loved ones can find a way to talk about it that works for everyone.