How do I tell my parents I have cancer?

teresasletters
teresasletters Member Posts: 12
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
My mom is a five year breast cancer survivor and my dad lost my stepmom to breast cancer in September 2009. I was diagnosed with two breast cancer tumors on November 24, 2009. I have surgery next week. I did not tell my parents yet. Only my husband, kids, some friends, and my father-in-law knows. I dread having to call my parents and tell them. I am not sure how to tell them, considering my step mom just lost her battle after fighting it for 5 years. It was a very rough struggle for her. We went home to see her just before she passed away. I went in for my early baseline mamogram just a few weeks after her death. (I am 38) Two spots were found and later biopsied to reveal both were cancer. I will not know what stage I am in until after surgery. I feel like they need to know before I have surgery, just in case there is a complication. Somehow it feels worse telling my parents who live in another state than telling my kids. I am here to support my kids through this and get them help at school. My parents, though, are not here. I don't know what to tell them. They are going to freak out. Especially my dad who is still greiving. Any suggestions??? I appreciate any assistance you can give.
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Comments

  • dyaneb123
    dyaneb123 Member Posts: 950
    Hey Teresa
    First let me say

    Hey Teresa
    First let me say that I'm sorry that you've found yourself here, but you will find help and
    advice from the wonderful people on the board.As hard as it is , you know that your parents want to know the truth and they will be hurt more by being excluded. They need to be able to be there for you at least emotionally if not physically. I learned that lesson when my dad kept everything from us when he was diagnosed with with lung cancer. By trying to protect us, we were denied the opportunity to be there for him and to do all the little loving helpful things that might have made his journey easier. The fact that your mom has been through this already means that she can be your best source of info and support.Don't deny her that chance. Your dad too. I know it's hard. Especially at first when you really don't know yet what's up. Just pick up the phone and do it....
    Dee
  • Wolfi
    Wolfi Member Posts: 425
    Parents and children
    I had the opportunity to tell my dad in person but my in-laws live far away from us and I had to tell my mother-in-law over the phone (which was hard to do). My suggestion would be to just figure out what you are going to tell them (you don't need to go into too much detail if you think it will upset them too much). Call them up and let them know that although you don't have all the details yet you plan to fight this in any way you can. Be yourself and talk to them just like you would talk to them about any other problem in your life. It may be difficult for them to deal with what you tell them, but you are their little girl and they will just want to make it all better. The good thing is that you had your mamogram early. If you had waited until you were 40 or 50 things could be a lot worse.

    Good luck.
  • rene9
    rene9 Member Posts: 214
    Hi Teresa
    Hi Teresa. I was in the same boat a month ago. I didn't want to tell my dad because that's what his mom died from (she was in her 70's and chemo was too much for her) and my mom is so sensitive. I told my mom right before I had my MRI. I was going to so many appointments and she had questions. But, I didn't tell my dad until the day I came home from surgery. I wanted to have more information before I shook him up, since you don't know the stage and all until after surgery. He was sad to be the last to know, but he is very supportive. I just knew they would worry more than me and - well they do. But, knowing it was caught early is a blessing! I think as long as you're positive when you tell them they will feel better about it too. I know how you feel.



    rene9
  • Ritzy
    Ritzy Member Posts: 4,381 Member
    rene9 said:

    Hi Teresa
    Hi Teresa. I was in the same boat a month ago. I didn't want to tell my dad because that's what his mom died from (she was in her 70's and chemo was too much for her) and my mom is so sensitive. I told my mom right before I had my MRI. I was going to so many appointments and she had questions. But, I didn't tell my dad until the day I came home from surgery. I wanted to have more information before I shook him up, since you don't know the stage and all until after surgery. He was sad to be the last to know, but he is very supportive. I just knew they would worry more than me and - well they do. But, knowing it was caught early is a blessing! I think as long as you're positive when you tell them they will feel better about it too. I know how you feel.



    rene9

    You have to call
    You know that they have to be told, and, it has to be before your surgery. I know it won't happen, but, what if something did during surgery. They are your parents. They would want to know. If you feel that you can't do it, have your husband call and tell them. He can let them know that you just aren't ready yet to talk to them. Or, listen on another phone and if you feel ready, start talking. But please, call them.

    Sue :)
  • m_azingrace
    m_azingrace Member Posts: 399
    Ritzy said:

    You have to call
    You know that they have to be told, and, it has to be before your surgery. I know it won't happen, but, what if something did during surgery. They are your parents. They would want to know. If you feel that you can't do it, have your husband call and tell them. He can let them know that you just aren't ready yet to talk to them. Or, listen on another phone and if you feel ready, start talking. But please, call them.

    Sue :)

    There's no easy way
    The hardest thing I had to do was tell my son and daughter that I have cancer. But I pulled up my socks and just did it, and I was immediately washed in relief. I know it's more difficult for you because of the circumstances, but they do need to be told as soon as possible. And because of their experience, they already know how to comfort and support you and your husband, and I'm sure they want to be there for you. Prayers and hugs to you. Gracie.
  • Jacque101
    Jacque101 Member Posts: 75
    Be strong...

    I'm a parent and I would be crushed if my daughter didn't tell me about any health problem she had. Be strong and just tell it like it is. Send up a prayer, take a deep breath and the words will just come. A mom would want to know...wouldn't you want to know. They will be thankful that you shared with them. They could be stronger than you realize, after all, they had been there for you many times when you were little. Good luck with the call you will be making. If you have strength to fight this beast, a phone call will be a piece of cake.
  • xskeetshooter
    xskeetshooter Member Posts: 169
    just tell them
    i know its hard and the will be upset, but it will hurt them more when they find out you have told everyone else but them.
  • sweetvickid
    sweetvickid Member Posts: 459 Member

    just tell them
    i know its hard and the will be upset, but it will hurt them more when they find out you have told everyone else but them.

    Just tell them
    It is hard to tell them this kind of news. My Mother had also had breast cancer 5 years ago. so in away it was easier telling her since she had been thru it too. My sister is the one who freaked on me. Just give them the facts let them know as you know info you will pass it on to them, no secrets fromt them. Give them some time to come to grips with it. My sister ran thru the whole gamulet of emothions but now has a very good attitude about it. Alot of thier attitude will depend on you.

    Your attitude is very important. Personally I am very optismistic about everything going on and it is helping me with going thru this journey. 99% of the time I have apositive attitude but there is that one percent that hits me. Have friends or family that you can discuss it with. I am very lucky to have a friend who is a therapist I can talk with that is a great support.
  • MyTurnNow
    MyTurnNow Member Posts: 2,686 Member
    I agree with everyone's
    I agree with everyone's comments here. You just have to tell them and before the surgery. It's hard but it's just the initial call, then everything will calm down and the calls will entail the treatment. I know my daughter was very upset when I told her because I am her only surviving parent. Once the shock was over, she came to understand that I needed her support to help get through this.....and, I would get through this!! You will, too!! Good luck.
  • outdoorgirl
    outdoorgirl Member Posts: 1,565
    Teresa,
    I am sorry for your diagnosis-especially right after your stepmom dying.Words fail me.
    I think that they would want to know and I keep thinking that you need support as well as everyone else in your family.I was just thinking this the other day that it's kind of funny-I guess the "nurturing" part of us that feels like we have to make sure that everyone else around us is okay while we are the ones physically going through it!
    Stay on this board and let us support you step by step.
  • newbiefromcananda
    newbiefromcananda Member Posts: 234
    hello , welcome..sorry you
    hello , welcome..sorry you have to be here...I also had a hard time telling my parents (my father has a bad heart) my older sister has been sick and my grandfather has 3 types of cancer right now.. (I am also 38 years old)I just told them that I have cancer ...but I am my own person..remind them that everyones situation is differrent and that you will fight this battle... i learned how to joke alot with my parents about things to show them I was dealing with this pretty good... I hope this helps.. If you need anything else just let me know.. you are in good hands here... wonderful website...beautiful people to talk to and get some great advice from...((((hugs))) Lisa
  • jnl
    jnl Member Posts: 3,869 Member

    hello , welcome..sorry you
    hello , welcome..sorry you have to be here...I also had a hard time telling my parents (my father has a bad heart) my older sister has been sick and my grandfather has 3 types of cancer right now.. (I am also 38 years old)I just told them that I have cancer ...but I am my own person..remind them that everyones situation is differrent and that you will fight this battle... i learned how to joke alot with my parents about things to show them I was dealing with this pretty good... I hope this helps.. If you need anything else just let me know.. you are in good hands here... wonderful website...beautiful people to talk to and get some great advice from...((((hugs))) Lisa

    Welcome and I am sorry that
    Welcome and I am sorry that you have bc. I had a hard time telling anyone outside of my husband, as, I would just break down. But, I knew I had to tell the rest of my family, my friends and my coworkers. Your parents would want to know. Why would they not? You are their child. They want to know and help you in anyway possible. Good luck.

    Leeza
  • teresasletters
    teresasletters Member Posts: 12
    jnl said:

    Welcome and I am sorry that
    Welcome and I am sorry that you have bc. I had a hard time telling anyone outside of my husband, as, I would just break down. But, I knew I had to tell the rest of my family, my friends and my coworkers. Your parents would want to know. Why would they not? You are their child. They want to know and help you in anyway possible. Good luck.

    Leeza

    Thank you everyone
    Thank you everyone. I am a bit overwhelmed at all of this support from strangers. I am actually crying now. Thank you so much for the advice and support.
    I called my dad's pastor and told him what was going on. He is going to visit my dad this afternoon despite the snow storm so my dad will not be alone when I call.
    My mom's pastor headed out of town on a mission trip to Costa Rica today and will not return for a week. He said he will check on her when he gets back, but his assistant will visit my mom.
    Now I just need to make the calls at the right hour when someone will be there with each of my parents.
    I do find myself trying to take care of everyone else instead of worrying about myself. I guess in a way it is because I am the one causing all the pain and stress, even if I am not in control of the cancer diagnosis. I am only in control of how I react to it and how I care for those whom are effected by it. I know the Lord has a reason for this, but telling my dad, especially, so soon after he lost his wife to the same disease, well, it is very hard. (And to do it from halfway across the country)
    Thank you for the support and encouragement. I will log on tonight and let you know how it goes. All of you are amazing women. I am not sure I could get through telling them if it wasn't for the support.
  • m_azingrace
    m_azingrace Member Posts: 399

    Thank you everyone
    Thank you everyone. I am a bit overwhelmed at all of this support from strangers. I am actually crying now. Thank you so much for the advice and support.
    I called my dad's pastor and told him what was going on. He is going to visit my dad this afternoon despite the snow storm so my dad will not be alone when I call.
    My mom's pastor headed out of town on a mission trip to Costa Rica today and will not return for a week. He said he will check on her when he gets back, but his assistant will visit my mom.
    Now I just need to make the calls at the right hour when someone will be there with each of my parents.
    I do find myself trying to take care of everyone else instead of worrying about myself. I guess in a way it is because I am the one causing all the pain and stress, even if I am not in control of the cancer diagnosis. I am only in control of how I react to it and how I care for those whom are effected by it. I know the Lord has a reason for this, but telling my dad, especially, so soon after he lost his wife to the same disease, well, it is very hard. (And to do it from halfway across the country)
    Thank you for the support and encouragement. I will log on tonight and let you know how it goes. All of you are amazing women. I am not sure I could get through telling them if it wasn't for the support.

    These incredible ladies rock!
    Teresa, through your own personal journey you will find that the ladies to be a wellspring of support, information and care. Calling the pastors was a very wise thing to do. I pray that all goes well. Hugs. Gracie
  • Marcia527
    Marcia527 Member Posts: 2,729

    Thank you everyone
    Thank you everyone. I am a bit overwhelmed at all of this support from strangers. I am actually crying now. Thank you so much for the advice and support.
    I called my dad's pastor and told him what was going on. He is going to visit my dad this afternoon despite the snow storm so my dad will not be alone when I call.
    My mom's pastor headed out of town on a mission trip to Costa Rica today and will not return for a week. He said he will check on her when he gets back, but his assistant will visit my mom.
    Now I just need to make the calls at the right hour when someone will be there with each of my parents.
    I do find myself trying to take care of everyone else instead of worrying about myself. I guess in a way it is because I am the one causing all the pain and stress, even if I am not in control of the cancer diagnosis. I am only in control of how I react to it and how I care for those whom are effected by it. I know the Lord has a reason for this, but telling my dad, especially, so soon after he lost his wife to the same disease, well, it is very hard. (And to do it from halfway across the country)
    Thank you for the support and encouragement. I will log on tonight and let you know how it goes. All of you are amazing women. I am not sure I could get through telling them if it wasn't for the support.

    I'm a little late but looks
    I'm a little late but looks like everyone else already gave you good advice and you have a plan. You are a very thoughtful person. Good luck. Hugs.
  • fauxma
    fauxma Member Posts: 3,577 Member

    Thank you everyone
    Thank you everyone. I am a bit overwhelmed at all of this support from strangers. I am actually crying now. Thank you so much for the advice and support.
    I called my dad's pastor and told him what was going on. He is going to visit my dad this afternoon despite the snow storm so my dad will not be alone when I call.
    My mom's pastor headed out of town on a mission trip to Costa Rica today and will not return for a week. He said he will check on her when he gets back, but his assistant will visit my mom.
    Now I just need to make the calls at the right hour when someone will be there with each of my parents.
    I do find myself trying to take care of everyone else instead of worrying about myself. I guess in a way it is because I am the one causing all the pain and stress, even if I am not in control of the cancer diagnosis. I am only in control of how I react to it and how I care for those whom are effected by it. I know the Lord has a reason for this, but telling my dad, especially, so soon after he lost his wife to the same disease, well, it is very hard. (And to do it from halfway across the country)
    Thank you for the support and encouragement. I will log on tonight and let you know how it goes. All of you are amazing women. I am not sure I could get through telling them if it wasn't for the support.

    Teresa
    It sounds like you

    Teresa
    It sounds like you have a good plan in place. I think that it would be very hard to break this news over the phone. When you are face to face they can see that you are the same as before and that you are handling it. But they need to be told before your surgery. You just need to assure your dad that each cancer is different and although he lost his wife it doesn't mean the same about you. Let him and your mom know that you will update them regularly on your progress and that emphasis that they did a good job raising you and that with all they have instilled in you, you will be fine. As far as the feelings you have about being "the one causing all the pain and stress" that's not true. Cancer is the culprit. It is the one cause pain, stress etc. Never, never feel that you are anything but a survivor. This is painful for you and will be for them but you will get through it and so will your family. As much as you are concerned for your mom and dad, you do need to focus on what is good for you. Stress for you is not good. So tell them as gently as possible, advise them both to use their pastors, their churches, their friends for support and then keep them in the loop. This could be phone calls, letters, emails, whatever works. My prayers are with you during this journey.
    Stef
  • Sher43009
    Sher43009 Member Posts: 602 Member
    I hope you tell them soon
    I hope you tell them soon and before your surgery. I made a mistake by not telling my Dad. I wanted to wait until I got the biopsy result--my brother-in-law let it "slip" that I was waiting for the results. It really hurt my Dad that I didn't include him before. Now I tell him first what's going on then tell the rest of the family.
  • mimivac
    mimivac Member Posts: 2,143
    Teresa,
    I am so sorry. It's not easy, I know. I have to leave work in a few minutes, but I wanted to quickly write in and support you. I was 34 at diagnosis and it was not easy telling my parents either. Both my parents lost their mothers to breast cancer. I just told them straight out. They've handled it beautifully and have been a wonderful support for me. I wanted to tell you about www.youngsurvival.org, a site for women under 40 diagnosed with bc. It's really helpful, especially for issues like this one. Good luck, and keep posting.

    Mimi
  • chenheart
    chenheart Member Posts: 5,159
    Sigh~ this is so not easy.
    Sigh~ this is so not easy. But I will put the shoe on the other foot for you.

    In a nutshell, my Dad was diagnosed with a very agressive form of lung cancer 2 months after I had moved 3000 miles from home to be married. He swore my mom to secrecy about the diagnosis...he didn't want me to postpone my wedding plans, come home and be there for him, my mom, and my younger siblings. Which I would have! We were very close, and he knew I would have dropped everything. So, he did what in his heart he THOUGHT was right for...he didn't tell me. He was a very generous, caring and livng soul, and I know his heart was in the right place. There was not a selfish bone in his body~ not intentionally, anyway. He was simply trying to protect me.

    The down side of this story is: my dad lost his battle in a mere 12 weeks. I never got to tell him I loved him or say goodbye, or give him that last hug. Not to mention my baby sisters left wondering why I never came home during thisfrightening time .

    I am not saying AT ALL that this will happen to you. Pls don't misunderstand. But I wish I had known. My dads generous and protective spirit in reality stole something from me. He died way back in 1973, and I still regret that I didn't know.

    Tell your parents...

    Hugs,
    Claudia
  • Taina
    Taina Member Posts: 166
    be strong
    Teresa,
    I'm sorry about your step-mom. I was dx in June and the worst part was telling my mom. Telling my 2 daughters wasn't as bad i don't know why....or maybe i do...i was putting myself on my moms shoes, as a mother and hearing a child telling a mother they have breast cancer....even do she lives 2 blocks from my house i called her on the phone and told her...i just couldn't face her...she even came in to my house that noght and i locked myself in the bathroom because i didn't wanted to see her face of sadness....but i did come out of the bathroom and guess back??? she was my rock, my big helper, was with me all the step of the way....
    call them and the sooner you do the better for you and them...is better for them to hear it from you than anyone else....
    it will be hard but i will pray for the Lord to give you the strength you need to tell your parents....i will pray for your father also.....