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How did you tell your family?

Posts: 14
Joined: Oct 2006

Hi my name is Beth and I just turned 27 years old. I have been in severe pain for the past 3 months, seen 9 different doctors and had 2 CT scans. The first looked like my pancreas was swollen, the second said it appeared to be normal. I have had many things ruled out, no kidney stones or troubles with kidney or UT or bladder, no broken ribs, etc. Now I am awaiting a colonoscopy to rule out colon cancer. My mother's sister died at 27 of colon cancer, she was 25 when diagnosed while having surgery to remove her gall bladder. Of course I am scared of what I may hear at the end of the month with the test, but on top of worrying about my health, my job, and financial situation in general, I am racking my brain about how I will break this news to my loved ones if cancer is my fate. I have not shared with my parents the talks and possibilities of either the pancreatic cancer or colon cancer. My mom was very close to her sister and still morns her. When she heard the initial CT showed a swollen pancreas she said to my BF, well at least it isn't her colon, I was so worried about that when this started. Plus my dad's brother, whom he was also very close to, died at the age of 31 of brain cancer, and my mom's mother has been battling breast cancer. I do not want to worry them if cancer is not the cause of all the pain I have been in. I daily think how will I tell them. My BF has been unbelievable to me, and I don't know what I would do without him, but I hurt for him. One night 2 months ago we talked about it all and he just cried and said he doesn't know what he would do without me, I am his world. That broke my heart. This has been so hard on him already and if we do get THAT diagnosis, I don't know how he will handle it.

So I guess what I am asking is how did you break the news to your loved ones and is there anything that you have done to ease their pain? Sometimes I feel so selfish because I am worried and even a tad bit depressed in the last week or so, but even though I may have a long road ahead of me, there are others that will be suffering as well. And if my fate with this disease were the same as my aunt and uncle's they will suffer much longer than me and I want to do all I can to take care of them. Does that make sense?

Sorry to seem so down. I am just scared and trying to prepare myself for anything and I have always been the type to take care of the ppl I love and I don't want to stop now. I can't wait to hear your stories, and I am so greatful that I found this board today as so many times it seems to me that young ppl dealing with this disease are ignored because we are young and 'it is unheard of'(which I have been told more than once in the last few months.) Thinking of you all and wishing you the best.


shmurciakova's picture
Posts: 910
Joined: Dec 2002

Hi Beth,
My name is Susan. I was diagnosed when I was 31 with colon cancer. Now I am 36. I am going to cut and paste your message to the colon cancer discussion group too, because there are many young people on there besides me. We have had some members even younger than you and I am pretty sure there are some your age who are active participants. At least that way you can get your colon cancer questions answered.....
So, you can check on there to see who has responded as well! I hope you do not mind.
The good news, from what I have read is that nothing peculiar was seen on the CT scans. If you had advanced colon cancer, it is likely that something would have shown up in your liver or lungs. This is good news, because even if it does turn out to be colon cancer, it has not spread to any other organs which greatly improves your chances.
That is IF it is even colon cancer. It is good that you are going in to get a colonoscopy, because of your family history. As you know, colon cancer can be genetic and so it is good to get checked out.
However, I think you are really jumping to conclusions. Please try to relax and wait until your test takes place to worry too much about this.

I know what you mean about worrying how your family and boyfriend would handle a cancer diagnosis. My mother went completely crazy. She handled it worse than I did! She acted like I was already dead and buried. She kept on saying all these crazy things like "A mother is supposed to outlive her child!" and "This is not the natural order of things!". At that point I did not even know all the details, if I would have to have chemo, or anything! She kept calling me and calling me and finally I just freaked out and started yelling at her. I told her not to call me anymore and I would call her when I knew something! I told her she was making everything 1000 times worse. It was awful.

I also felt like my husband (we got married a couple of months before I was diagnosed) had gotten a dud for a wife. I felt so guilty for everything that I had put him through. However, he remained calm throughout and has been very kind and patient with it all. He has been wonderful and now I have been cancer free for 2 years! You can read my webpage for the whole story.

Anyway, different people will handle the news differently but if, God forbid, you do have to give them this news, let them try to take care of you. I know you said you always take care of others, but that would be a time to let them take care of you.
Please try not to worry about something that has not even happened. You can control your thoughts. Everytime you have those negative thoughts, just put them out of your brain and go do something you enjoy. Worrying about something that has not even happened will make you even sicker.

I hope that helped,
Please post on the colon cancer board too and read your responses,

KathiM's picture
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

Hey, Beth....
I'm one of the semi-colons, not young (49 when diagnosed, 51 now). I saw Susan's copy of your post on the crc board.
First of all, I have to give you BIG HUGS for being brave enough to see this thru! At 27, you should not have to worry about anything more than what to wear to your next dinner party!
As far as your boyfriend, what a FIND! He sounds incredible, like many of we survivors' significant others! Yes, if it does end up as the beast (my pet name for cancer), well, it WILL make him work a little. But, he loves you....he will be strong...you will be fighting hard yourself.
That said, colon cancer, if caught early, is VERY treatable! And you are doing everything you can. Cancer is no longer an immediate sentence....there are new things happening every day!
But, I know it's hard, be patient. It may not be the beast at all....if it is, well....get over to the colorectal cancer board...we have some survivors with AMAZING stories!

Please try not to worry about what you will say to your family just yet...if the time comes, well, you may be surprised at how many of them want to join your survival 'Team'!!!!!
Hugs, Kathi

chynabear's picture
Posts: 483
Joined: Jul 2005

Hi Beth.

First, I'm very sorry to hear that you have been in pain and I hope they figure out something soon so you do not have to suffer. I am also sorry to hear about the passing of so many young relatives to cancer. I am also glad to see that you are being persistent in finding an answer. Unfortunately, I know all to well how easy it is for doctors to "blow you off" primarily because of your age. I'll get to that below.

You need to know that if you are diagnosed with cancer it does NOT mean a death sentence. It may not be ideal, but it doesn't mean you will necessarily die. There are a ton of different treatment options that have happened within the last couple of years let alone what was out there when your family members passed.

In fact, there are cancer survivors on the colorectal board that have cured Stage IV by nutrition. I hope you get to hear from them.

Now, my story... I was around 21 when I noticed a small amount of blood. I went to my primary care physician and was told, "hemhroids." I didn't seem to have any other problems other than a "gut feeling" and so I never pursued the issue. Fast forward a few years and I noticed a LOT of blood. Again, I was told "hemhroids" or "a small tear in your bowel." At this point, I was not so easily convinced. Especially with my treatment I received on this first visit. I pursued the issue until I found a doctor that sent me to a GI for a colonoscopy.

I spent my 27th birthday getting my colonoscopy and got the results the day after. I was in surgury 3 days later and found out I was diagnosed at Stage III with 1 node positive. I too didn't think I was going to live. That was 2 years and 2 days ago.

After surgery, I spend six months going through chemo, but thankfully every one of my scans and tests have come back negative for cancer.

I am scheduled for a scope in a week and another CT in November.

I know they will be fine even though I'm still afraid. And, you will be too. It sounds like you are more afraid to tell your family and BF. For me, I couldn't tell them I was having problems (other than my husband). But, the day I found out I had cancer it just came out how it came out. Tearfully, it just bluntly came out. While I don't know if this is the answer you are looking for, you will know how to tell them IF and when the time comes (and I pray it doesn't).

Please let us know the results. I suggest you stop by the colorectal board. There are a ton of great people there with some amazing stories and the support is great.

Good luck to you!


Posts: 14
Joined: Oct 2006

Thanks for your quick replies.

Susan, thank you for copying my post to the other board. I will post a copy of what I wrote on another board and see if anyone has any insight. That was very thoughtful of you. And I do hope that I am over reacting, believe me I do, but I am trying to prepare myself for anything. I also wanted to say, I COMPLETELY understand what you are saying about your mom. When I first got sick, she went crazy(and like I said before the word cancer has never been said to her) Finally one day I told her pretty much the same thing you told your mom. I know her feelings were hurt but like I told her I needed to figure this out and as soon as I had some info I would let her know. she got mad the first time I went to the Med Center because I didn't call her as soon as I got home, not thinking about the fact I had been given a pain shot and was asleep before I even made it home. I am so happy to hear that you are doing well now. Also I wanted to say about you only being married a few months when you got the news, my aunt had been married just over 1 month when she got her news too and her husband was wonderful to her. Amazing how strong love is =)

Kathi-thanks for reminding me about how far medical technology has come. I tell myself that no matter what it is that I will fight and beat it(my stubborness would finally come in handy) but in the back of my mind I do think of my aunt and uncle and although that has been many years ago I worry that it could turn out the same way. Like I told my BF about me getting my business in order, either way it is something we all should do and that way it is done and if everything is ok, I would still be fine if I were taken out in a car wreck tomorrow. I can rest easier knowing that even though I am so young I have plenty of life insurance so my family will not be burdened with that, as well as other legal things such as will,etc in the works. I am an insurance agent and I talk with my customers about those types of things all the time so it only makes sense that I think that way. But thanks again for reminding me that it isn't a death sentence, I needed that today. And the comment about all I should have to worry about is what to wear made me laugh, in the past few months I hurt so badly I can't wear most of my normal clothes so I do worry every day what can I wear HAHA

And Patricia-Thanks for sharing your story as well.It is so sad how doctors, even good ones, blow you off because you are young. If you would have been 60 instead of 20 going in with the same story you would have been treated entirely differently. And some doctors will even try to convince you that you are crazy just because you are demanding answers. I will be thinking about you with your upcoming tests. Please let me know how things go. Did you have any other symptoms other than blood? Also are there any other tests that I should possibly ask for? By the time I do have the colonoscopy done it will be 4 months since this intense pain started. I am just ready to find out one way or the other and figure out what it is so that I can work towards 'fixing' it. I have been on strong pain meds for over 2 months now and I really don't want to keep taking them. I worry so much about becoming addicted. For the first 2 months of this I was lucky if I slept 3 hours a night, now I do sleep on average about 5 hours a night(some nights only 2 and others up to 8) Most of the sleeping I do is in the recliner with a heating pad. If I roll over in my sleep normally I wake up in so much pain I can't go back to sleep.

Ok I am off to copy the post I did on another board and see if I can get any insight here. Thanks again for the support and I pray I will be back with good news at the end of the month.

Posts: 64
Joined: Mar 2006

I know I am a little late in replying so I hope that you get this. I was 28 when diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer. My advice to you in regards to telling your family is 1st and foremost, wait to see what the doctor says. If you do indeed have cancer know that it doesnt mean a death sentance....I know that you havent had the best luck with family members that have cancer. Your family will be upset, there is no way around this but they will pull up their boots and do what they have to do to help and support you through what may come. It is awesome that you want to ease their pain or anxiety, you care so much but you cant stop the feelings from coming to them. Please try to take some deep breaths and see what the doctors say. I hope that you will come back and post that everything turned out ok!


Posts: 5
Joined: Mar 2008

I was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer last March, I honestly had a hard time with this as well. your not alone! I remember telling my best friend before my parents, i wasnt sure how to tell them. I felt like i had let them down somehow...like they would be upset with me for getting sick and not being that perfect daughter i felt they expected me to be. you know when we did tell them, they were there for me they went to every appt, both my parents did. when i went into the hospital to have the whipple procedure my hospital was out of state they both took off work and went with my husband and i. I was in the hospital in St Louis Missouri for 2 weeks...it was hard to tell them, but after i did i was so happy i did.
good luck in EVERYTHING!!!!!

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