When to tell family.

Hi All,

This might all sound pretty trivial but I’m really stuck over what to do.  For those of you with parents still with you, when/how did you tell them? 

So far I have not told my family and am not sure what to say.

I was so worried about telling my parents . I’m 53 and my parents 78 and 83 . I was so worried about how I was going to deal with their emotions when I was all over the place . I couldn’t have been more wrong - they just slipped into parent mode and were the most supportive and practical people . I was all for waiting until I had all the facts but my husband said no just get it said and I’m glad I did . Otherwise I would have been focusing on that over anything else when they could have just been processing it all with me . 

That’s not trivial at all. I was diagnosed in March and I haven’t told my mom. She’s 85 and has been depressed since my dad passed away 2 years ago. I asked advice and all my family and close friends think I shouldn’t. She lives abroad and I was meant to see her in June and August… I won’t be able to do so. I don’t know what to do… 

Hello @Jackie P  

Firstly,I’m really sorry to hear you are in limbo land.I wish I had known how much waiting there would be when I was diagnosed. I think the waiting is  the worst part of  a cancer diagnosis .Once you have a plan, it’s easier to have something practical to deal with.I’m afraid there’s a lot of waiting for results. 

It’s not trivial to worry about your parents at all. I was 52 when I was diagnosed  nearly three and a half years’ ago.My mother had died 18 months before my diagnosis.I still miss her very much but in many ways, am glad she didn’t have to worry about me being ill during her final  years. My father was 84 when I received my diagnosis and my first thought was how I was going to tell him as I felt he had had enough to cope with over the previous two years.I needn’t have worried  .I wouldn’t have got away with not telling him !He had guessed something was wrong when I was trying to tell him I had been recalled. (I was picked up at my first screening appointment).Our parents generally know us too well to be able to  dissemble for long and they care about us , whether we’re 5 or 50. I think we want to protect them when they are older as we feel they have often already experienced enough serious illness, grief or other major trauma.However, they are probably more resilient than we give them credit for. 

I have been so glad of my father’s support over the past 3 years, particularly as I live on my own. It maybe helps that he himself had bowel cancer 12 years ago which left him with the  serious side effects of having a stoma ,  and is a scientist so he was very realistic and understanding  and not of the era who  still think cancer is something not to be talked about.He is fairly frail now and kept saying he wished he could do more to help me , as he couldn’t give me practical help  but the fact he is there and cares about me is help enough. I am due  to have my third my annual mammogram next week(which is probably why I am lurking here, as otherwise, I assure you that while it is hard, you WILL get through everything and  life does get better again-but we’re allowed the occasional wobble!).He is one of the few people who I can talk to about my anxieties at this time as he “gets it” and friends, although really supportive during treatment, do tend to think you should be “over it” by now. 

I obviously don’t know your family set up but  in your other post you say you have a partner so it is not as if your mum is going to be worrying that you will be on your own and unable to manage practicalities if you were to have surgery soon .I can understand you want them to have their well deserved and long awaited holiday. However, it is so easy to keep in touch nowadays, even if they are going abroad, so you will still be able to speak to her regularly . My parents used to drive off to the Alps for a month every summer and  for many years, I was the one worrying about them as 30 years’ ago, they didn’t have mobile phones then and I would wait for a phone call from a telephone box once a week, imagining the worst as they drove round scary mountain roads and busy European motorways!  And the timing may well mean that you will be very glad to see her when she is refreshed  after their holiday when you are part way through treatment,as there will be lulls along the way and there may not be much she can do practically for a while. Surgery usually requires a wait afterwards for results and whatever else is planned. 

Good luck with whatever lies ahead and whatever you decide