If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, one of the hardest things is trying to figure out how to keep your community informed about your diagnosis and treatments. There is no right or wrong way to talk about, but to make things a little easier for you we’ve compiled a list of things to keep in mind when informing your community about your cancer diagnosis.
You Get to Choose Who, What, Where, and When You Share Your Diagnosis. If your diagnosis is something that you’d like to be private, or shared only among certain groups, it is your right to have it remain that way. But don’t feel like you have to! You didn’t do anything to deserve cancer and it’s nothing to be ashamed about. Ultimately, it’s up to you who you inform, what you tell them about your diagnosis, and when you feel comfortable sharing it. There is no one answer that fits all situations.
Be Prepared for People to Tell You Their Experience with ___ Cancer. Be prepared for certain individuals with whom you share your diagnosis to tell you about someone they know who had your cancer type and it was “super easy” or someone who died from the cancer diagnosis you have. Both can feel dismissive of the gravity of the life change you’re undergoing. For some people, however, it’s the only experience they have with cancer and may be the only way they know how to relate to you and your situation. Knowing ahead of time that this is going to happen can help you prepare for the emotional labor discussing this with others may force you to perform.
You Might Have to Comfort Friends or Family Members. Sometimes, it’s difficult for other people to hear about a cancer diagnosis, and they will be uncomfortable with or upset by the news. Expect that you might have to perform emotional labor for them and help them to cope with the way your diagnosis makes them feel. Always remember that it’s okay to set boundaries if you can’t handle your diagnosis and their emotions about it, too.
One way of making it easier to communicate ongoing updates with your supporters is by adding them to your Village. Our community features allow you to share updates and important news with friends and family all at once, so that you or your caregiver can keep everyone informed in the easiest way possible, and help you avoid some of the incremental difficulty of emotionally supporting friends and family while you are going through an already difficult time.
People Will Send You Things You Don’t Need. One of the things that most patients and survivors can tell you about their experience is that as soon as friends, family, and colleagues begin to hear about your diagnosis, everyone is eager to help and flood you with the dreaded “What can I do to help?” questions. We created the WishList to allow you to help your loved ones help you in ways that are meaningful, including providing rides to the doctor, meal delivery, comfort items, and cash funds. Simply register for what you need and text, email or post the link the next time someone wants to know what they can do to help.
- Cancer Will Change You. Cancer can be a scary, difficult, or emotionally-triggering conversation to a lot of people. Some people in your existing circle and in a new group of “cancer friends,” who you’ll undoubtedly meet during your treatment and care, will be there with you every step of the way. Other people won’t be able to handle your news as well -- and that’s okay! You need friends who are stable at this time of your life, so hang on the people who you know will support you in the way that you need.