There are things to consider prior to sharing your cancer experience with others, as each individual has many twists and turns as well as ups and downs. Your own story is very personal and you alone should decide how, when, if and with whom it is shared with. Your decision to share might also vary from person to person that you are confiding in.
You are in the driver’s seat when it comes to deciding with whom you choose to share your story and how much information you want to share. Most likely family and trusted friends will be on your share list, as you know you can trust them with anything you tell them. This is extremely sensitive and personal information you are entrusting to others, and your life. These conversations may need extra preparation and consideration because of the sensitive nature of talking to children about cancer. Their concerns about cancer need to be eased by talking with you and about your diagnosis. Keep the information simple and in concrete terms, using only the words they understand.
You might even consider sharing your story on a larger scale to support others that are also living with cancer. Even to raise public awareness, advance cancer research, improve the quality of cancer care and address the legislative and regulatory issues that currently affect cancer and research.
Begin by writing down the details you choose to share with specific people before actually talking with them. Think about those questions or even reactions that they might have and have a response prepared. Practice your story out loud or with someone else that you can trust and are comfortable with.
Choose a stress-free time and environment to talk with others when sharing your story. Begin by telling them you have something important to share with them. Reaction may be completely different with each person. Some may react negatively and others may not say anything or know how to react to your story. This information might even remind them of their own fears about cancer or trigger other memories of a previous difficult experience or loss.
Some may ask questions that you deem intrusive or might take the conversation in a different direction that makes you feel uncomfortable. You are in charge, so either refuse to share certain information, change the topic or just end the conversation.
Just remember that for every negative reaction you receive, you will receive many more positive and compassionate responses from those in your life. They will encourage you to share your story and will be very supportive through your journey with cancer. These are the people you need to surround yourself with. Nurture and develop those relationships as they continue to share and support you in your experience.
–Dr Fredda Branyon