What to tell, how to tell it, to whom?

What to tell, how to tell it, to whom?

My golf partner was one of the first friends I shared my cancer news with. To my surprise he looked at me and told me that he had leukemia. He has been in remission for 5 years at that time. He helped me to prepare for telling the news about my disease to my colleagues at work, to my family and friends. He explained to me what kind of reactions I could expect. He also explained to me that although my cancer diagnosis was life altering for me and for my nearest family, for some it would be just news. Being prepared for the reactions spared me a lot of pain.

How did people react when I told them that I had cancer?

  • Some were extremely said.
  • Some showed compassion.
  • Some felt uncomfortable; they would avoid me.
  • Some wanted to know all details about my disease. They would ask about details such as survival rate and topics which I would most likely prefer to avoid.
  • Some just listened to the news without showing any reaction.
  • Some were polite, but untouched.

Even after 7 years of living with cancer I still need to think about “what to tell, how to tell it, and to whom”. The frustration when I see that the person opposite me just doesn’t understand, no matter how many times I have explained my situation, is enormous. It may be easier to skip the topic altogether, unless I have to mention cancer in order to avoid a misunderstanding.

Before describing my situation to a new person I need to consider the following:

  • Do I need to mention cancer in the ongoing conversation?
  • There are literally hundreds of cancer types and even a doctor can have difficulties understanding my situation.
  • Some feel uncomfortable talking about cancer and other diseases.
  • There are situations when I have to tell about my disease to prevent a misunderstanding. But I cut the information to a minimum.

When updating my family and friends about the latest developments I need to consider the following:

  • Painful news will inflict pain on my loved ones. Can I skip some details?
  • Even my closest family members and my closest friends have their own lives with their own problems. Do I really need to put more burden on them?
  • Do not forget to tell the good news!