SHARING THE NEWS ABOUT YOUR CANCER
Communicating With Your Spouse Remember that your spouse or partner will be affected by your diagnosis as much as you. It is best to involve her or him as soon as possible, so the two of you can find strength in each other, and learn from the beginning how you can work as a team. Both of you should feel free to discuss concerns with each other, as well as with your doctor, nurse, or other counselor who can give you the information and the reassurance you need. In some ways the spouse’s or partner’s challenge may be particularly difficult because he or she will have to manage his or her own emotions, and at the same time shoulder the task of being your supporter, helper, and sounding board. Telling Your Family The people who are close to you also will be affected by your news. They too may need to be angry, cry, and express their emotions. It’s a natural part of adjusting to your diagnosis. It will help both you and them to talk openly about each other’s feelings. Open communication from the start will go a long way toward strengthening the bonds with your loved ones, and securing the support you’ll need. Dealing with Friends Friends can be an excellent source of help and support, particularly if you keep them informed, and help them help you. Most will want to help, but may be unsure of how to go about it, and will be waiting for clues from you about where to begin. Make specific requests for simple things. Ask them to run an errand, prepare a meal, come for a visit. These small acts bring friends back into contact and help them feel useful and needed.
Bear in mind that people who don’t have experience dealing with cancer may have no idea what is acceptable. They have questions like, “Isn’t it too personal to ask about her colostomy?” or “Should I pretend nothing happened?” or “How do I discuss his fears with him, without making things worse?” Help them by being the first to bring up whatever subject you want to discuss. And feel free to cut a line of questioning short, by saying, “I’d rather talk about it with you at another time.