How to Break the News You Have Cancer

August 30, 2021
How to Break the News You Have Cancer

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is never easy. The first thing a cancer patient needs to do in this situation is understand their own feelings. At some point, you will have to take another major step - figuring out how to tell your family you have cancer. Breaking the news will never be an easy task. However, you won’t be the first who has had to go through this. Many cancer patients help each other by giving advice on how to handle this difficult conversation. Cancer support groups are also great places to get tips on how to have this talk. Following are some common guidelines given on the matter. 

This is Your Choice

There is no “right way” to talk about cancer. The first thing you need to understand is that talking to others, or not talking to others, is going to be entirely your choice. You should never initiate conversations simply because you feel that it’s “the right thing” or that you “have to.”

If you are uncertain about what to say, you can find a cancer support group or therapist to consult first. By speaking in a controlled, safe space like this, you can let the experiences of experts and other cancer patients help you decide what is the best course of action to take. 

Regardless, before you decide how to tell your family you have cancer, it’s important to work out your own feelings on the matter. When you do begin to tell other people, it is important that your feelings are entirely accurate and honest. 

You Don’t Have to Tell Everyone

Sometimes figuring out who you tell about your cancer will not be difficult. You may have few or no close family members and will have a shortlist of people to tell. For those with larger families, how to tell family you have cancer can become a trickier prospect. 

Just remember, you only need to tell as many people as you feel comfortable with. It is perfectly acceptable to only tell your closest family members, and arrange for them to help you inform other relevant people.

You can use this “limited” approach at work or school as well. Instead of telling all your colleagues or professors, you can approach human resources or student services discreetly. They can offer to inform everyone relevant and let you control the news at your own pace. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help

As backward as it can be, many cancer patients feel like something of a burden after receiving their diagnosis. This is why telling others can sometimes be frightening or awkward. They know that they will need a degree of cancer support, but don’t even know where to start.

In these first conversations, you should be honest and upfront. You should also not be afraid to let the other party talk, and get their feelings. Cancer has a radiating effect, and those close to you may need time to process this information. Caring about the feelings of others is important.

However, your health is also important. You should not be afraid to make requests - whether for help with getting the cancer support you need or for immediate time off of work to begin planning. By being honest with what you need now, and letting people agree to this, you prevent them from using guilt as a motivator to help later on down the line.

If you need any advice on getting cancer support, OneVillage is here to help. We provide information to cancer patients and their supporters, as well as put them in contact with the goods and services they need. Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have.

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