Your doctor has just given you life-changing news. What next?
If you have been recently been diagnosed with cancer, processing this information can be difficult, and talking about it with your loved ones can be even harder. Telling your spouse or children can be an extremely emotional time. However, these moments can also be therapeutic. Some of the most important initial steps in defeating cancer are to accept the fact that you are sick, accept that this will be one of the most difficult journeys of your life, and accept the fact that you will need help and a strong support system.
Having a solid support system is one of the most important weapons you can have in your cancer-fighting arsenal. Including your loved ones in your journey will not only help you emotionally cope with the disease, but it can also help your loved ones deal with the fear and uncertainty associated with cancer.
Telling Your Spouse
Your diagnosis can be overwhelming not only to you, but also to your spouse or partner. It’s important to be honest about your cancer and prognosis. Invite them to ask questions and try to have an open conversation about the diagnosis, treatment options, and prognosis. The complex emotions that are associated with a cancer diagnosis may lead to some changes in your relationship. Express your emotions, but be sure to listen to your spouse or partner’s point of view as well.
Talking about any fear, frustration, or anger you may have toward your diagnosis with your spouse will help to strengthen your relationship. Not addressing these emotions can create a rift between you and your loved one. These feelings are natural, and voicing them will relieve some of your stress, and also let your spouse or partner know how much you need their support. Be sure to include your spouse or partner in your medical treatment as well. Discuss your treatment options and invite your loved one to come with you to appointments. Letting your spouse or partner see you receiving treatment helps them empathize and understand what your body is going through.
Telling Your Children
Informing your children that you have cancer can be one of the most difficult parts of your diagnosis. Being a parent, you naturally want to protect your children from upsetting news. However, there are ways to tell your children that you have cancer in ways they can understand, without worrying or confusing them
- use words that your children understand
- give facts, but keep things as positive as possible
- let your children know that you will be going through physical and emotional changes
- share your emotions appropriately, letting your children know that they can share theirs as well
- listen to their questions and provide answers
Be open to providing a therapeutic outlet for your children, through school counselors, church leaders, or mental health professionals.
Keeping loved ones involved in your journey will assist you through the challenging times. They can be your support system, and it also helps them feel more involved in your treatment process.