Telling Others About Your Kidney Cancer
It is difficult to tell friends and family you have been diagnosed with kidney cancer, but you can't keep a cancer diagnosis secret forever. Here are some tips for telling others.
By Dennis Thompson Jr.
Medically Reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH
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People facing a kidney cancer diagnosis may feel overwhelmed by a bewildering overload of emotions. And knowing that you eventually will have to share this news with others only adds to the anxiety, dread, and sadness you're already feeling.
While the news of your diagnosis may provoke different reactions in different people, overall, your friends and family will be a great source of comfort, support, and strength for you as you experience kidney cancer symptoms and treatment side effects.
"There's nothing to be ashamed of, so unless there's a reason why you want to keep it from people, there's nothing to hide," says Holly Riggs, a licensed oncology social worker at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. "You did nothing wrong. The kidney cancer is not the result of something you did or did not do."
Timing the Talk
The important thing to remember is that you are in charge of who you tell, and when you tell them. In preparing to tell others, it helps to:
Planning the Talk
Once you've decided you need to tell others, there are some steps you can take to make the task easier:
- Make a list of people.Write down all the people closest to you who need to know. Also make a second list of people who should know but can be told by someone else, and ask your friends to help you spread the word.
- Figure out how much you want to share.Think in advance about how much you want to tell people about your diagnosis, kidney cancer symptoms, treatment, and treatment side effects. Whatever you choose to share, make sure you share the same information consistently with everyone. "Honesty is always the best policy, keeping an eye on your own comfort level," Riggs says. "You don't want information out there that you're not comfortable sharing with everybody. Whatever information you provide, I would keep it consistent."
- Consider what you shouldn't share.There may be topics you don't want to discuss, because they are uncomfortable to you or because you don't feel they are anybody's business but your own. Plan polite responses for when people innocently broach these topics.
Having the Talk
Once you've prepared yourself, it's time to talk. Tips for telling people about your kidney cancer diagnosis include:
People will not always respond to your kidney cancer diagnosis in ways you expect. Some might withdraw from you, while others may act as though everything's fine and you don't have cancer. Whatever their reaction, understand that you haven't done anything wrong and that their response is human. If you need to, talk to them directly about how you are feeling or what you need.
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