Breast Cancer Diagnosis - How Do You Tell the People You Love?
The only thing that changes the life of a woman faster than a breast cancer diagnosis is motherhood. In one defining moment, everything she thinks about the world or believes about herself and her body is changed. She feels betrayed by her body, afraid for the future, fearful for the physical ramifications, and concerned about so many other issues. One of the most terrifying aspects, at this point in the diagnosis is how to tell your family and friends. Here are a few clues to help you break the news to your loved ones.
Your Children Need to Hear it from You
We live in a day and age where everything is on the Internet and secrets are hard to keep. Even if you tell your friends in confidence, there's no guarantee that it won't spread around the web like a wildfire. Someone is going to say something to your kids, overhear a conversation, or read something on Facebook. You need to tell your family before you tell anyone outside your home and your children need to be among the first to hear the news.
Keep it Age Appropriate
Children need to know you have cancer, but they don't need all the sordid details. Keep the message short and upbeat. Ask if they have any questions but allow them a little bit of time to process the news too. Be understanding if they lash out, become angry, or seem confused. These are normal behaviors and have nothing to do with your child's love for you. Generally, they only lash out because they love you so much.
Tell Your Spouse the Truth and Be Prepared for Anything
While every man would like to think he'll react perfectly for his wife at a moment like this, the truth is no one knows how they're going to react until they're in the moment. Some men never miss a bit and get right down to the business of solving/curing your cancer. Other men become irrationally angry.
Cancer is the one thing your husband, who would jump in front of a train for you if given the choice, cannot protect you from and it frightens him, makes him angry, and leaves him feeling powerless. This can be a volatile situation in your emotional state. Be prepared and try not to let it hurt you if he lashes out right now. He will come around and feel incredibly guilty if it's any consolation.
Reveal Your Condition to Select Family Members
Once you've told your immediate family, be selective in who you reveal the information to outside the home. Don't reveal on a wide scale (or to your gossipy friend who has a trigger finger on her Facebook feed at all times) until you're ready for an onslaught of questions and commentary. Once the people who need to know are informed, relax and allow nature to take its course. For the most part, word will get around more quickly than you'd care to admit.
If you're a person of faith, you might also be interested in discussing your condition with a respected member of the clergy in your church. Prayer support is always comforting at times like these and your religious leader may have insight or access to resources such as The Breast CancerSociety, that can provide assistance to get you through the treatment process, that you would not know about otherwise.