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Breast Cancer | Telling your Friends and Family

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The Haven | Telling people about breast cancer

Learn first hand how a breast cancer patient went about telling her friends and family about her breast cancer diagnosis. 

I didn't have any wait. I was told there and then. And, in fact, I went on my own; I was feeling so well.

Three days, I think, I cried. "How do I tell my mum that I've got this?" My mum, you know?

Because somehow it was something that we didn't talk about within the family. And when I told her she said, "Don't be so stupid."

Oh, well.

'You can't possibly…"

Yes. I said, "No, it really is true."

One area of difficulty around, for everybody, I think: How do other people respond.

I know you've touched on the "who do I tell and how do I tell them," but how do people respond, too. And the sense you can have of needing to kind of care take other people, really, and have to manage other peoples' responses to you.

I guess one of the things I would say is that you are not responsible for other people's feelings, you know. That other people need to manage themselves in some kind of way.

And allow yourselves to choose who you tell, too, because other people may have an idea of what you ought to be doing and who you ought to tell. But I think you have to follow your own path.

Because I remember coming home and thinking, "Oh, my God, do I have to phone all my friends and family and tell them." Make maybe one or two phone calls and then, after, just totally exhausted from telling people and explaining.

And, like you said, it's like you go from being completely well and maybe bump into someone on the street and they say, "Oh, you're looking really well." And you just think, "Oh, if only you knew."

Sometimes it can be helpful to identify a friend or somebody in the family who can be the main point of contact about their welfare that other people can refer to.

And that saves them always having to be the one to do that.

It may be contacting people through email is a useful thing to do. And also just to let people know, your friends know, that you may not contact them as much as you ordinarily would, but that's just how it is for the moment.

And you can't always come out and do things in the way that you would, either. And to be patient with that.


10604 Revised November 2012

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