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Communicating a Breast Cancer Diagnosis (or updates ongoing)

Sep 19, 2022

Communicating our news to others can be stressful and a bit overwhelming.  I found it very helpful to be intentional about my tone, the timing, places, people, and the message itself ahead of time.

These 5 areas helped me prepare to share my diagnosis and ongoing updates:

1. Tone.   How you share this kind of news will determine what you get for a reaction from others.  I decided immediately that I was going to share my breast cancer diagnosis from a position of confidence and positivity... many times my exact words were "I have got this!".  I knew the tone that I took would be the tone they mirrored back to me... "You absolutely have this Maggie!" (vs "Oh no... you poor thing!").

2. Timing.  Did I just receive a hard update at my doctor's appointment that I still need to process?  Did I just watch a video or something on TV that made me cry?   Did I hear that someone else I know has breast cancer?  All of these (and more) are valid reasons to not want to share any personal updates with others at that time.  I knew if I tried to get the words out, I would probably end up emotional and send that other person into a fear and sympathy spiral.  Know your capacity and what you can handle at that moment.

3. Place.  A chance run-in with a previous colleague at the grocery store, walking down the street and seeing a neighbor, out for dinner with my daughter at a local restaurant... all of these were places (and situations) that I did not want to start talking about my diagnosis or treatments with others.  I didn't feel prepared and depending on who I ran into - my feelings about sharing with THAT PERSON played a part too...

4. Person.  What I shared with my brother was not going to be the same message that I shared with a past co-worker of course. Being thoughtful about who I wanted to know (and what) was helpful for me and those closest to me. 

5. Message.  Deciding what you want the message to be based on who you are talking with is something to think about.  Also, it is helpful to let them know what you want them to do if they want more information or updates ongoing (e.g. caring bridge, blog, one of your friends that you are counting on to share things)

This isn't about overthinking any of this, but rather considering these things before you put yourself in situations that leave you feeling a bit stuck or lost on how you want to interact.  Remember, you get to decide what feels right to you!

Learn more about LoveME Healing as a resource supporting those navigating a breast cancer journey here.

Hand on heart!