Cancer is still among the hardest words to say in our society. Simultaneously, out of necessity, it is a quite common topic due to its pervasiveness in modern life. Consider this fact: Fifty percent of men and thirty percent of women will eventually have cancer. Those who develop cancer may also affect their friends and family. Needless to say, cancer can touch almost everyone’s life in a big way, but still, cancer is a tough topic to discuss. However, you need to talk to loved ones about your diagnosis and future treatment plans. It will be difficult, but you can go through it.
Preparing for changes
Changes? Well, that is definitely an understatement about the consequences of cancer in your life! You’ve just been shoved into a game that you hate. Although you can’t quit early, you can still have control in how to play it. When letting your loved ones know about your new situation, there are many choices to take. You can decide whom, how and when to tell them, you may also want to decide how much information you should reveal.
Definitely, you have no control over others’ reactions or feelings, and you’ll easily be surprised by their unexpected responses. Some of your closest friends may compete for the “most trusted person” position and wish that you’ll reveal all of your information. Still many might withdraw initially, but then steadily become your strongest supporters. Without doubt, navigating through the human relationship waters can be an extra challenge that you need to go through.
There will be changes in your daily life, and your family members and friends may feel uncomfortable with these changes. You may also undergo significant physical and certainly emotional changes – and those close to you might not know a good way to react to those unanticipated changes either. As a matter of fact, they may wonder whether you’ll still be the same person. Of course, cancer can cause permanent changes even if you can eventually survive the disease. But those changes don’t have to be bad.
When deciding about how to tell to your family members and close friends try to take the best point of view when informing aboit your condition. The way you tell your spouse and your kids, for instance, will be different with the way you talk tp your co-worker and your best friend. Let’s explore common considerations first.
How and when do I tell them? What should I say? Do I tell them separately or get them together? Can I do it alone?
These are just a few questions that will occur in your mind, and there could be a desperate need for answering for them. You need to determine the right voice and words before sharing your problem with those you really care. Write down everything you need to say, to help you talk effectively and maintain composure when the discussion becomes really emotional.
There are a few important elements that can help in sorting things out while giving you a good, firm head start:
• Acknowledge your emotions. Accept anxiety as a part of the process. Everyone who knows that they have a cancer will surely feel bad.
• Compose yourself. Do everything necessary to calm yourself before telling others. If you’re emotionally out of control, your family members and friends will be, too. If you are frightened, they will be, too. Obviously, there’s no benefit in disseminating fear and panic at this point.
• Seek for support. If you find it difficult to tell others, seek advices from a cancer support group that can give you a few essential suggestions on choosing a good way to break the news.
• Choose the right words. Determine what terminology and phrases you should use. If saying “I have a cancer” seems too scary and direct, try words like tumor, malignancy, illness, or even health problem. Shape your words appropriately to convey information without causing too much discomfort. A child may easily understand “Dad’s sick” better than “Dad has cancer.”
Preparing for unexpected emotional responses
Human emotions can take a sudden 180-degree turnaround? These are some unexpected reactions:
• From closeness to distance
• From grieving to not grieving
• From numbness to frantic
• From compassion to stone
• From questions to silence
• From laughter to anger
Not everyone around you will react similarly to your bad news. Each individual has many unique variables that influence their reactions. You may more accurately predict someone’s reaction if you know him/her better.
You’ve delivered the bad news. One person may angry at this fact, others become numb and someone may have tears rolling down her cheeks and hugs you tightly. What should you do?
Your best step is to understand their reactions as best you can. People will eventually accept your condition if you can demonstrate calmness and optimism about your recovery. Remember that your way of coping and the overall attitude may continue to fluctuate on a daily basis. Your family members and friends will need some time, too.
Next, you’ll face a barrage of questions. Your best reaction is to think before answering. Once wrong words leave your mouth, you can’t take them back.
No, you’re not going to die the next morning. No, you’re not contagious. No, no one makes mistakes. Yes, awful things do happen to nice people. Yes, there is a chance for a full recovery and no, it isn’t a death sentence. Make sure you don’t complicate things further by informing them wrongly.
The next one-year period, could be the hardest. You won’t be able to take part entirely in daily activities. Don’t worry if things don’t go perfectly in fact, family perfection is only reserved for TV commercials and certain sit-coms. Such “perfection” is unreal and lasts for half-hour with a few commercial breaks. Your life is a reality and you need to face it with realistic expectations.
Under many circumstances, your friends and family members will be supportive and considerate, so don’t hesitate to ask for help while you can. And be specific on you requests. In this unusual time, try to create enough normalcy. It is inconsiderate to expect your loved ones to grieve constantly. Everyone’s mind also needs enough rest. Try to have as much fun as possible and you’re the best person to start it! Just as you can’t grieve continuously, you can’t be serious constantly. Share in your progress and make small talk. The world won’t stop turning just because you have cancer.