Decisions about when and how to tell other people about your diagnosis are entirely up to you. Some people prefer initially to deal with the diagnosis alone. They may wish to work out how they are feeling first before sharing their feelings or having to deal with the feeling of others, even those closest to them. They may not wish to burden people they love, or they may not believe they are strong enough to cope with the news.
It is natural to want to protect the people we love, and it's often difficult to even begin to think about how to tell them about the diagnosis. In the long run however, it is usually better to be as honest and straightforward as you can. Even if you don't tell them, or withhold the truth, they are likely to suspect that something is wrong and worry anyway. When they do find out, they may feel hurt that you did not feel you could trust or rely on them earlier.
Keeping a diagnosis of cancer a secret for a long time is exhausting and in most cases impossible, and people usually feel a sense of relief in being able to confide in someone they trust.
When you feel ready to tell someone about your diagnosis, it is a good idea to first choose someone you feel you can trust. This could be someone you also appoint to tell other members of your family and other people who might need to know about your situation.
There will be times when you feel you really need to speak to someone and other times when you don't want to speak to anyone. This is normal. Its good to let people around you know how you are feeling. They can be of more help if they understand when you need to talk or spend some time alone. You could think about using the answering machine to screen your calls when you need more privacy. This will give you more control over whom you speak to, and when.
It is not easy to tell a child about a diagnosis of cancer. The amount of information that can, or needs to be given often varies with the child's age and level of emotional development. Children are particularly sensitive to the emotions of people around them and they often take an exaggerated level of responsibility for things that happen to themselves and others. Therefore it is important to give them a reasonable explanation for what is happening and to assure them that they have nor done anything wrong, or somehow caused the illness. In general it is important to have an open and honest approach, providing them with as much accurate information as you are comfortable with and they can understand at the time. It might be useful to discuss any difficulties you are having with the counselor, psychologist, social worker or pastoral care worker at your treatment centre, or the staff of the Leukaemia Foundation. They will be able to provide you both with support and practical strategies that you may find useful at this time.
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