Who Can I Tell?
It is your choice who to tell as this is your personal journey.
It will make things easier if you inform at least the people nearest to you. Keeping secrets is hard work and your extended family and friends might feel left out. Instead of avoiding them or making up a story, it will be to your advantage to share information with them that you feel comfortable with.
If you are living with your parents or a guardian, it might be helpful for you to ask them to assist you in the decision-making regarding which details about your cancer diagnosis you would like to share.
“Life forced me to be strong at a very young age. Having a support system (your family and friends) is important.” (Leukaemia cancer Survivor 15 yrs old Mangaung).
Images Credit: Freepik
How Do I Share the News?
Telling your loved ones and friends that you have cancer is not easy. Please don’t stress. There is no right or wrong way to talk about your diagnosis – just be yourself.
Remember that the longer you wait to share the news, the harder it will get to talk about it. You are going to need the support of those closest to you, so spill the beans.
If you would like to inform your friends yourself, choose a time and place where you can chat to them without interruptions. They will have questions and concerns and it is okay to say if you can’t answer all their questions. Just be honest about what you know and what you are willing to share.
If you are really struggling to share the news, writing it down first might help you organise your thoughts, before you share your diagnosis. You can also choose one person you trust and ask him / her to share the news with your other friends, if you do not feel up to it.
Here is a helpful infographic you can share with your loved ones and friends which gives them a few ideas about how they can support you as you go through treatment.
What if People Are Upset?
Your loved ones and friends will probably be as scared and upset as you are when they hear the news. This is perfectly normal and should not prevent you from sharing your diagnosis.
The best way is to be honest about your feelings and encourage them to do the same.
Try to answer their questions as best you can, but remember that it is okay not to know everything.
Open communication from both sides, even in small pieces at a time, will help everybody to come to terms with your diagnosis.
What if People Treat Me Differently?
“I wish everyone around me would stop talking about my illness like its taboo, and focus on helping me get back to school.” (Msogwaba 15 yrs old)
“I want my friends to see me as normal, not disabled, that they would understand how being diagnosed with cancer has affected my emotions, and that they would stay in contact.” (Ewing sarcoma 17 yr old cancer Survivor KZN)
“Teens with cancer often feel isolated, especially if they’re in the hospital or away from school for long stretches at a time. Visit as often as you can. Fight the urge to stay away because you feel awkward. Just being there to show your support will mean so much. Or stay in touch by sending notes and cards, emailing, phoning or texting.” Ewing sarcoma 17 yr old cancer Survivor Mossel Bay)
“I want people to know that cancer is not a death sentence.” (Leukaemia cancer Survivor 15 yrs old KZN)
From the beginning, make it clear to your family, loved ones, friends or fellow learners what you prefer.
- Make things awkward by treating me differently
- Treat my illness as something taboo
- Treat me like I am disabled
- Now add your own points…
- Help me get back on track with practical tasks
- Understand that the cancer diagnosis has been a shock and will affect me emotionally
- Stay in contact – visit when I am up to it, or phone, text, or email me
- Now add your own points…
Some people do not have the correct information about cancer. Here is a helpful infographic explaining what is true and what is false. If people still reject you, please get in touch with our CANSA staff.