Each person living with cancer has a story to share. Your story is unique and valuable in its twists and turns and ups and downs. Because your story is personal, it makes sense that sharing this story - how, when, if, and with whom - can be a big decision. If you’re in the process of deciding whether or not to share your story, or maybe you’ve already decided that the time is right, here are a few things to think about to help you through the process.
Whom to Tell
The important thing to remember is that you are the one in control when it comes to deciding with whom you share your story and how much information to provide.
Family and trusted friends will likely be among the list. These are the people who you can trust with the intimate details of your diagnosis.
If children are among those you’re sharing your story with, your conversations may need extra preparation because of the sensitive nature of talking to children about cancer.
Where to Start
You may find it helpful to write down the details you want to share with specific people before talking with them. As you consider what to write, think about questions or reactions that you may receive and prepare a response.
Try practicing the story out loud alone or with a friend or family member.
Remember that this is your story to share. You may feel comfortable with your story one day and then decide not to share it the next. That’s okay.
Responding to Others’ Reactions
There are lots of ways people will react to this kind of news. A person may react negatively, and you shouldn’t take this personally. The reaction is likely the result of a person’s past experiences and related feelings. Sometimes, people will ask questions that feel intrusive or may take the conversation in a direction that makes you feel uncomfortable. This is the time to remember that you’re in the driver’s seat.
For every negative reaction you receive, you’ll receive many more positive, compassionate responses from people in your life. These people will encourage you to share your story and will be supportive throughout your journey. Surround yourself with these people. Develop and nurture those relationships as they continue to share in your experience.