Telling Your Loved Ones About Your Prostate Cancer
Being diagnosed with prostate cancer is a frightening, life-altering event. At the time of your diagnosis, a million thoughts and fears run through your mind.
If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, chances are that you, like many men, have worried about how to tell your loved ones. Talking about cancer is never an easy task, but there are a few things to consider when telling people about your diagnosis.
First: Think About You
You are probably feeling a whirlwind of emotions regarding your cancer and you probably have questions for your doctor.
You might feel angry, sad, or betrayed by your body. Maybe you’re scared about the next step.
Before you think about telling anyone else, make sure you have assessed your own feelings on the situation, and have had time to understand your diagnosis. It is important to know that there is no one “correct” emotion associated with cancer, and to allow yourself to feel whatever comes your way.
This does not mean you should push aside all personal emotion when telling others about your cancer. That would be impossible, as you may experience a whole new range of emotions once you begin to talk about the cancer.
This simply means that you should be sure to allow yourself time to process your diagnosis and what it means to you.
Sometimes, you may find that you need help understanding your cancer diagnosis and how it impacts you. There are several resources available to you, and you may want to consider speaking to a professional.
Ask your doctor for any recommendations, and don’t be afraid to reach out for help.
Additionally, you should begin to think about who you are going to tell. Are you going to confide solely in your family? A few close friends? Considering your support system at this time is important. Your cancer struggle is personal, and you want to make sure you have a strong system in place.
When To Tell Family
The question of when to tell your family about your diagnosis is a tricky one.
While there is no exact “right time” to tell your loved ones, experts agree that the conversation should take place shortly after you’ve been diagnosed.
After processing your feelings and gathering information on your diagnosis, you should begin thinking about telling your loved ones and preparing to answer any questions they may have.
Remember that you are going to need a strong support system during this time. Telling your loved ones early will allow them to process their thoughts and feelings so that they can be there for you during your treatment.
How to Tell Your Loved Ones
When considering how to approach the subject, being honest and direct is the best policy.
Start by discussing the facts of your diagnosis: the stage and grade of your cancer, as well as your doctor’s prognosis, and explaining each topic as best as you can..
You should try your best to share your feelings on the diagnosis, and encourage your friends and family to do the same.
It is important when talking about your cancer to not try to put up an emotional front. If you are scared or sad, you should feel comfortable expressing these emotions to your loved ones.
You may also wish to discuss your treatment options with your support system. Remember that everyone will view these options differently, so try to communicate that you are exploring your options and, no matter which you choose, that their support is important to you.
Talking to Children About Cancer
Perhaps the most difficult task will be telling your children about your cancer.
While it may seem tempting to shield children from your diagnosis, you should try to be as open and honest with them as possible, answering any questions they may have and listening to any concerns they express.
This will be a high-stress time for you and your family, and children will pick up on tensions whether you tell them or not. Often, hiding such an impactful situation from them will end up causing more fear and anxiety.
According to the American Cancer Society, when telling younger children, you should communicate your diagnosis to them through small amounts of information, in a way they can easily comprehend.
Teens and children may have a difficult time coping with your diagnosis, so you may want to have some resources on hand that will help them express their feelings. Cancer Care, ACS, and Cancer Center all provide excellent resources for helping kids come to terms with a parent’s struggle with cancer.
What To Expect After Talking About Cancer
The most important thing to remember is that everyone processes emotion differently. Having said that, there are a multitude of emotions and reaction that you may have to deal with.
Some of your family and friends may feel the need to talk it out and ask questions to understand our diagnosis, whereas others may shut down.
There is no perfect way to react to this type of news, just as there is no perfect way to communicate it, and sometimes your support system needs a support system. Be sure to have plenty of resources on hand, and to let your loved ones know what you need from them.
According to the ACS, during this time you should be aware of any “triggers” that may be sensitive for you to discuss. These triggers include topics that make you angry, questions you find bothersome, and anything that makes you uncomfortable.
You should be prepared to answer a lot of questions about your prostate cancer, and, at times, it may seem that everything revolves around your diagnosis.
While discussing cancer is an important aspect of the healing process, you should not have to feel like you always have to talk about it. After all, you cancer does not define you, and you may want to quickly return to living life as normally as possible.
To combat any unwanted or uncomfortable questions or conversations, try to have a firm-but-polite response at the ready to steer the conversation in another direction.
Figuring out how to tell your loved ones you have prostate cancer is not an easy task. You are about to embark on a difficult journey, that will impact each member of your life differently.
Surrounding yourself with a strong support system of loved ones and professionals can help ease some of the fear and anxiety of dealing with a prostate cancer diagnosis. For more resources, please visit the American Cancer Society’s Guide for Patients and Families.