How do you tell your family/friends?

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ppm20wife
ppm20wife Member Posts: 44
edited March 2014 in Colorectal Cancer #1
Ny husband really wants to play this low key until we know more - after surgery - I highly doubt that is going to be possible as we have good friends and family that deserve to know what is going on....how should we tell and how should we respond? Any advice or personal stories would be appreciated!

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  • taraHK
    taraHK Member Posts: 1,952 Member
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    Tough call
    This is a tough call -- and a hard thing to deal with.

    First of all -- it is 100% up to you and your husband what you chose to tell people, and when.

    That being said, as you say, there are family and friends who love you and who will want to support you, when you chose to share with them.

    Three things I have found helpful:

    1. Ask one friend to tell others (you can specify who and what). That spares you the pain of breaking the news to many people.
    2. Tell people by email first. They may follow up with a phone call or visit -- but it gives them a chance to absorb the initial shock while they are not on the phone or with you.
    3. You get to set the tone. I made it clear in how I presented the news that I was feeling optimistic, positive, and determined. I kinda made it clear that I was interested in others following suit!

    Of course others handle differently -- you must do what feels right for you.

    Good luck to you as you face this difficult part of the journey.

    Tara
  • Fight for my love
    Fight for my love Member Posts: 1,522 Member
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    I only chose to tell my
    I only chose to tell my brother although he lives in a different country since my husband and I don't have any friend or relatives at where we live.But I really need a small window to vent,so after two weeks of my hubby's diagnosis,I told my brother.I told my brother that this is the biggest challenge that we ever met in life,but I would like to let you know what is going on in my home although you are living in a different country.I alos told my brother that we both stay very positive for the treatment because first,we got the best medication and best medical care in this world.Second,the doctor said the diagnosis was good,still in a early stage,and we will get through this.
  • lizzydavis
    lizzydavis Member Posts: 893
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    Low Key worked for me.
    I did what your husband wants to do. I played it low key and was glad I did. It helped me to learn more about my diagnosis. As I learned more, I began to feel more comfortable discussing it. I told only a select few at first. This allowed me to continue my daily work and keep my family as normal as possible rather than constantly dwelling on the diagnosis.

    --My in-laws who are in their late 80s were only told that I had to have an exploratory medical procedure at first. We didn't want to excite them or upset their health. They were told about a medical condition previously and had trouble sleeping after hearing it. So we gradually gave them selective information.

    Your husband never has to give any more information than he feels comfortable revealing. I always thanked everyone who asked and told them I would keep them posted or that I am taking one day at a time. I always told them that I was feeling good and thankful for each day. None of us has a guarantee of tomorrow.

    ______Support and love are great medicine!
  • kmygil
    kmygil Member Posts: 876 Member
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    I'm a coward.
    I'm a coward. I made my husband tell my sister--I just couldn't do it. Once she knew, I didn't have such a hard time telling my friends and other family. The most delicate one was the one at work. I wanted to show that I had no intention of "milking" it (and I didn't), but at the same time they had to know that there were days I just wouldn't be able to come in. Fortunately, I had the best boss who just took it as it came and supported me all the way. When I got the second cancer I told my sister myself and it wasn't too bad.

    Kirsten
  • PhillieG
    PhillieG Member Posts: 4,866 Member
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    Their is no right or wrong way to break the news...
    This is how I went about it.
    It all happened in one day. I felt great but my Dr wanted me to get another test because my liver functions were "odd". So I got a sonogram, CT scan, then a phone call at 5 pm telling me I had Stage IV colon cancer. He had such a nice Marcus Welby kind approach... At least he didn't have his nurse call me. What a a-hole... Anyway, so first I called my wife because she knew I was having these tests. That was a tough call. Then I called my Brother, Sister and Mom. Then when I went to work I told my manager since I wasn't sure how it would affect my work, I didn't know at the time if I'd have surgery now or later (it was later). Then I told all of the people who were close to me at work, and there were quite a few. I wanted to tell them, not have people point at me and say "there's the cancer guy". They were my friends and I felt I needed their support and my approach is pretty straight forward. I told most privately but where I work, at the time I shared space with others so it was a group thing, that was rougher in a way. My friends were appreciative (I felt) that I trusted them enough to tell them. I'm very open about my cancer and will talk to anyone about it. I'm not ashamed I have it, it could have been them but it wasn't, it was me who had it. That's what I did.

    My sister last year found out she had stage 0 breast cancer (how lucky is that for being unlucky) she pretty much did what I did. Our Mom, being of the "don't let the neighbors know" wasn't thrilled but she respected how we did it and gives us nothing but support and praise for how we did it.

    My cousin on the other hand, did not want to tell her siblings about it when she got cancer. She eventually did but I never understood that at all. You need support.
    To each their own but that is how I handled it.

    I'm sorry for your dx but I agree with what you said "we have good friends and family that deserve to know what is going on"
  • ADKer
    ADKer Member Posts: 147
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    PhillieG said:

    Their is no right or wrong way to break the news...
    This is how I went about it.
    It all happened in one day. I felt great but my Dr wanted me to get another test because my liver functions were "odd". So I got a sonogram, CT scan, then a phone call at 5 pm telling me I had Stage IV colon cancer. He had such a nice Marcus Welby kind approach... At least he didn't have his nurse call me. What a a-hole... Anyway, so first I called my wife because she knew I was having these tests. That was a tough call. Then I called my Brother, Sister and Mom. Then when I went to work I told my manager since I wasn't sure how it would affect my work, I didn't know at the time if I'd have surgery now or later (it was later). Then I told all of the people who were close to me at work, and there were quite a few. I wanted to tell them, not have people point at me and say "there's the cancer guy". They were my friends and I felt I needed their support and my approach is pretty straight forward. I told most privately but where I work, at the time I shared space with others so it was a group thing, that was rougher in a way. My friends were appreciative (I felt) that I trusted them enough to tell them. I'm very open about my cancer and will talk to anyone about it. I'm not ashamed I have it, it could have been them but it wasn't, it was me who had it. That's what I did.

    My sister last year found out she had stage 0 breast cancer (how lucky is that for being unlucky) she pretty much did what I did. Our Mom, being of the "don't let the neighbors know" wasn't thrilled but she respected how we did it and gives us nothing but support and praise for how we did it.

    My cousin on the other hand, did not want to tell her siblings about it when she got cancer. She eventually did but I never understood that at all. You need support.
    To each their own but that is how I handled it.

    I'm sorry for your dx but I agree with what you said "we have good friends and family that deserve to know what is going on"

    Do what is comfortable
    As parents of active children, my husband and I are also active in the community. My diagnosis of Stage IV colon cancer hit too close to home for other parents and the universal reaction was shock and horror. I had alot of things to take care of before surgery and the phone calls became burdensome, although I did appreciate the sincerity of the concern. I have a Caringbridge site to give updates so that alot of phone calls are not necessary and also to give accurate updates. I have a password that I asked people not to share so that the whole community isn't reading my blog. Someone else I know though takes the approach that she shares her story with as many people as possible in case someone might suggestion that is very helpful to her in her effort to survive.

    Of course, you have to do what is comfortable for your husband. I am a private person but, after more than a year, I have become more comfortable with sharing my information. I don't care to share my information with voyeurs but have no problem with folks who are sincerely concerned but it can be a difficult line to draw.
  • Sundanceh
    Sundanceh Member Posts: 4,392 Member
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    I Tried It Both Ways...
    Hi,

    I tried it both ways and here's what happened to me:

    My first diagnosis, I kept it to myself. I did not tell the neighbors, my family, my Dad or Mom or anybody at work. Just thought I would go it alone. It was my first experience with it and I did not know what to feel or how to handle the situation. I obviously had to tell my boss, because I was going to be working during treatment, and would then be out of work a few months for the surgery and recovery.

    Of course, this worked against me at work, because with so few knowing, my boss took advantage of the situation (I was a manager of an IT group).When I got back everybody thought I had been "on vacation." And it was a very hollow feeling with everyone avoiding me.

    Also, when I came back, the boss had other ideas of how to handle things and she had a favorite there she was trying to promote, so my work and responsibilities began to flow that way and I was shut out. She was a quick to fire person, so I had to be careful...she knew that I had Cancer and she just "poured it on" and tried to run me out of there. With no one else knowing what was going on, I played right into her hands - she is an evil woman.

    The 2nd time I got Cancer, I said I am not going to go through this alone. So, I emailed everybody at work letting them know I had Cancer and was going out for emergency Liver surgery and that I was fighting for my life. This opened the door to allow people to be involved and respond. As a result, I got alot of positive feedback. And when I got to work, they had a Welcome Back to Work party with a cake, so that was nice.

    I also contacted my good friend that I had excluded, apologized for shutting him out and told him I had not been a good fried. And that if I survived, that I would be a better friend to him and everyone.

    You take risks either way...but as I said before, I went 5-years almost totally alone and I handled it very well, because I am a strong person. But the 2nd time, it made me feel better that people knew kinda what was going on.

    When I got back to work, I told them I was doing chemotherapy and they might see me on some bad days, so they would know what to expect and that I was not trying to be distant.

    I'm like Phil, I believe in the "open" approach and you can take from it what you will...if you're with me, right on....if you're not, ok.

    I also sent my family, friends, and co-workers Personal Reflections and The Promise - 2 stories that I wrote about my Cancer experience and I got alot of positive feedvback from those 2 stories...more so from The Promise, because that was what I did with my 2nd Chance at Life. I have those up under My Expressions.

    Hope this helps...it's a personal call. I've done it both ways and you've now read how it went. I think it is best to share...it eliminates the rumors and let's you tell your own story.

    -Craig
  • krystle singer
    krystle singer Member Posts: 108
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    I needed all the support I could get, sooo...
    I just started calling and e-mailing everyone I knew I could count on for that support. Of course, there were tears and sadness and concern, but those folks sure came through. It depends entirely on who your suppost system is. My family and frinds and church were right there, at once. Not everyone has that reaction. I am nearly 71 years old and so no parents or aunts or uncles to tell. Maybe it would have been different if my mom or dad had been alive to be told. I admit to being an equal opportunity squealer! I needed to hear that I was loved and asked for prayers.
    Now the above hasn't alaways been true. Usually I just carry on with life and don't ask any one for help..I am the designated helper in my family and with my friends. As it turned out they were more than happy to return the favors.
    I am a little over 4 months colon cancer free. I need a CT scan of my kidneys and the whole thing could start all over again. I will hve a much harder time asking a second time.
    There is n o right or wrong way to break the news. Do what feels right in your heart.
    I'll always be on your side as will the people on CSN.
    Take care of yourself..first, then worry about others. The love is there, go after it.
  • Patteee
    Patteee Member Posts: 945
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    what and when to share
    this one varied a little bit for me depending on who exactly it was. There were a hand full of people who knew I was having issues and was going in for the colonoscopy. No information to share with them at that point. Certainly I wasn't thinking cancer. Within 12 hours of the colonoscopy, my children, my mother, my sisters, 2 coworkers and immediate supervisor knew. I went to a memorial day picnic 5 days later- my ex-husbands family were all there and I couldn't bring myself to tell any of them, even though I have remained very close to them. Mostly because I had made no plans yet and didn't have any information to give them other than I had colon cancer. But I also was still very much in shock, even saying the word cancer and I would choke up and cry. When I was in the hospital, my sister emailed a wide group of people and kept them updated. I started a blog after I got home to keep people updated so that they could understand what was going on.


    I am wondering if part of your husbands hesitation, or wanting to wait, is about not knowing what to tell people, or just needing some time to get used to the idea. Or the protection of denial? If I don't tell people, then it isn't real.


    I would encourage you to share and tell who you need to, for your own network of support.
  • Kathleen808
    Kathleen808 Member Posts: 2,342 Member
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    Hi
    Hi,
    We live in a tight knit neighborhood and I teach at the school one of our daughters attends. We knew that "everyone" would know quickly. However, **** was diagnosed on Monday and our 14 year old was in finals week at school. We contacted her dean, told him what was going on and decided that we would not tell her until Thursday when her finals were over. We kept it very tight those first 4 days. We told our parents and siblings and that was it. We did not want our daughters finding out from anyone but us. As soon as we told our kids, the word spread quickly. For us, it was a huge boost to have the support of family and friends. Three of ****'s close friends flew to California to be with him after his surgery. Also, his mom flew out from Boston for his surgery and my family was all there. We have needed the support of our family and friends as one of our daughters has very involved special needs. We have also taken this time to educate people about colonoscopies. As most of our friends are around 50 we encourage them to go now. I think at least 20 people have had their colonoscopies since hearing about ****'s diagnosis.
    That's our story. I agree with everyone that it is a very personal decision and it should be made by thinking through what will be best for you.
    Aloha,
    Kathleen
  • 8735
    8735 Member Posts: 6
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    who to tell
    I'm about a year into this and who, how and when to tell family and friends was so difficult. Once we had a diagnosis, we told our immediate family - my mom, my husband's mom and sister. Once we had surgery scheduled and had some basic knowledge of what to expect,we told our closest friends - probably a network of about 20 people.
    Asw we learned more, we told them more. Having the support of those we love most was invaluable.
    Outside of that core group,we've kept it pretty private. Having too many questions, too many people checking in was just more than I or my husband could handle.
    Will that change as we go forward? Perhaps but for now that's what's right for us.
    Best of luck as you go forward with all this. Stay healthy, appreciate your friends and stay positive!