Canswer Hive: How I shared my breast cancer diagnosis
THIS IS THE CANSWER HIVE. TIPS AND INSIGHTS SHARED DIRECTLY FROM RETHINK’S YOUNG WOMEN’S NETWORK (RYWN)
When you’re told that you have breast cancer, so many things run through your mind, like how to tell your loved ones. Should you tell just your immediate family or post it on social media to tell the world? And where to begin telling the kids in your life? A cancer diagnosis can affect everyone, from parents to partners to children to siblings and friends, to name a few. Here’s how the women in our Canswerhive told their loved ones about being diagnosed with breast cancer.
My sister and best friend were with me at the appointment when I received the biopsy results. A couple of days later, I sat down my husband and just told him straight. When I told my parents, I said to them “You may want to sit down”. This was my second time telling them their daughter has cancer (first time was about my sister) so they knew what was going to happen.
My husband was with me when I received the news. I called my siblings and parents (and in-laws) individually. The first time I spoke the words was to my brother and I had no idea saying “I have breast cancer” would be so hard and heart-wrenching. It didn’t get easier and it’s still hard for me to say I’m a survivor because there are moments where it just feels unreal. I slowly called my friends and told my kids. Then after four days I made a Facebook post to my world. I saw no point in hiding it and while it exposed me, I think my story helped some of my friends as well. I live in a small community and there isn’t a lot of younger women fighting cancer but all of sudden I was one.
My husband was with me when I received the news. My mom was watching the kids for us, and I told her in person right when we got back. My husband called my in-laws. We told my older kids (six and eight at the time) once I had a prognosis and plan. I told my best friends face-to-face and sent a mass email to my other friends. I also sent a separate email to my kids’ teachers and best friends’ parents, to ensure they knew what to tell their kids. I by no means wanted to keep it secret, but it was the most difficult words to get out of my mouth. I told my friends to tell others so no one felt compelled to stop me or be shocked that I was bald – especially in front of my kids. Only when I finished treatment did I post the news on Facebook.
I was alone when I got the call. I wanted to tell everyone, but also was scared to tell anyone. I called my mom and sisters first, then my best friend. I wanted to tell my boyfriend in person. From there, they helped me spread the word to close family and friends. It didn’t sink in right away, but it wasn’t as scary to say it as I thought it would be. Looking back, I’m happy with how I told them. Now that I’m through the worst of it, I’m becoming more of an advocate and sharing my story online.
I was at the doctor’s appointment alone when I received the news and then rushed to see my niece’s graduation with my entire family. I tried not making eye contact with anyone but they all knew. I waited until I was home to tell my husband and daughter face to face. Called my mom, dad, brother, and best friends next. Telling my younger two boys was a little harder so I waited until I had more answers. I read them a related book, told them and answered their questions.
I was with my husband when I got the diagnosis. He phoned our mothers who were watching our kids at the time. Our moms told our dads and then everyone else found out via email. Email was the easiest for me as I was not ready to talk. Email was way easier than speaking through the tears and hearing the reactions of my loved ones. I didn’t have any answers for the questions I knew everyone would have. Email also helped me to control my story and it also opened up a platform for my family and friends to connect with me comfortably.
It was just me and my then six-week old daughter in the doctor’s office when I was given the diagnosis. Once the doctor left, I phoned my husband at work and broke the news. We talked for a while then I composed myself and drove to my parents’ house where my other children and nieces were. My sister was close by so I asked her to come to my parents’ house. We sent the big kids inside and sat on the porch and I told my parents and sister. I’m glad the four of us were together. It’s a moment I’ll never forget and it still brings tears to my eyes. My husband told his parents and I phoned my brother in another province. I had my parents tell my grandmothers because I couldn’t handle hearing another heartbreak. Over time I phoned some friends, texted others, whatever felt right. It’s one of the hardest things, telling your family and friends this horrible news. Seeing your father cry and seeing your grandmother’s pain, knowing she wishes it was her instead of me. It was hard telling my longest friend whose first husband died of cancer at age 26. I felt like I was breaking hearts and causing so much pain and grief to those I love the most. It still triggers so many feelings of sadness and anxiety even thinking about it. Definitely one of the more traumatizing experiences in this whole thing.
I was alone when I got the call. I called my husband who was at work. I couldn’t even get the words out but he knew and rushed home. I had my sister tell my parents. My mother had found out her husband had breast cancer two weeks before my diagnosis so I couldn’t bear to tell her it was a double whammy. I waited several weeks to tell my daughters (10 and 12 at the time) until I knew my plan. A social worker at my hospital helped me prepare for that discussion, which was invaluable. She said “Don’t monologue. Have five key points to tell them and let them ask questions. First thing to say is that you felt a lump and immediately had it checked out (an important life lesson).” It was brutal but honestly it was also a loving, honest conversation and I was so relieved for them to finally be on the journey with me. Funny part is that I heard of another survivor who had referred to her tumour as “Tony” when talking to her younger kids about it. I decided I’d do the same. My younger one said, “Can I curse?” I said yes and she said, “Tony’s a b*tch!” So we had a little laugh among the tears. (Apologies to anyone named Tony here!)
I was home with my kids when my doctor called. I hid it the best I could until my husband got home. I told him first, then the kids together. We told my parents and close friends in person. I found an extreme amount of guilt in telling people (not wanting to ruin their vacation or add more stress etc.) so I had a really hard time with it. Everyone else got a Facebook post because by then I was spent.
My husband was with me when I received the terrifying news and has never missed an appointment since. My son has severe Autism so I used Rethink’s children’s book that the hospital gave me to try and explain it to him. I told my sister (and best friend) right away. She called a family meeting (which I gave her permission to) and she pretended I was running late so that she could break the news to my parents and other siblings. I called an emergency dinner with my close friends a month later to tell them. It took me many months to let my coworkers (only my boss and HR knew as I had to go on leave), dance community, and social media know about my diagnoses. I shared it with social media when I posted my fundraiser for the CIBC Run for the Cure. Now I am more open to talking about it, advocating, and spreading awareness. If I can help one person, that’s all that matters and it makes my heart full.
I had my best friend with me at the initial appointment when they confirmed it was cancer. I didn’t tell anyone else for about a bit – my family does not have a great history with cancer and I didn’t want to be the one adding to it. I went for a drive with my one sister and mom to tell them. Part of me wanted to tell no one but the other part realized I didn’t care if people knew – I just didn’t want to do the telling. So I designated a few friends to share the news. I posted something about a month after surgery on Facebook when I knew there was going to be chemo and more treatments, so I wouldn’t be going back to work right away. It was really hard. I am the person people usually tell their issues to and I didn’t know how to go to others. It’s been an experience. I found Rethink before I had told anyone and this community made it alright.
I told my five-year-old daughter I had a boobie infection like grandma and I had to get it cut out. She then asked if she would get it too and I had to hold back the tears. My mom also had breast cancer which she knew about.
Are you a young woman with breast cancer looking to connect with others? Join the Rethink community here.