Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Breaking the News about.. (insert whisper here)...cancer!

OK, everybody raise your hand if you DO NOT have cancer! Or, maybe an old-fashioned approach joke would be more apropos like, 'Knock, Knock. Whose there? I have. I have what? I have cancer!' And what about one of my favorite ways to break the news - at Sunday family dinner night. "Can someone please pass the potatoes to the breast cancer patient."

Seriously, there really isn't any favorable way to spill the beans that I've come up with thus far. So, I'm looking for a few suggestions here.

My approach? Go in easy and then BOOM - drop the bomb! Because let's face it, there really aren't any gentle, subtle ways to break the news. And yes, it is bomb-dropping news to say the least. And yes, I do also take your feelings into consideration. So, since this is my third dance with the Big C, I must admit, that I do have a little tradition now (unfortunately).

I either A) dive straight into the deep end of the pool with a "Yeah, I have breast cancer again" statement or B) I try to slowly, wade into the shallow end of the pool with a "Well, it's been a bit of a rough couple of months.... and uhm.... unfortunately.... I was recently diagnosed with.... breast cancer.... again."

OR..... You can take the not-so-subtle approach which, is exactly what I did just last week.

On Thursday, we were out and about doing some quick errands and ran into a male friend of ours who saw me sitting in the passenger seat of our car, with my 'pillow buddy' (the pillow I take EVERYWHERE I go, that I wedge in between my chest and the seat belt!). This of course, ignited the inevitable question (here it comes, I thought). "Well hey, what's that all about?" (as he nodded towards my pillow buddy). Ahem, "Well..." 'QUICK!' I thought. Think of something. What should I say? How should I say it? He's a boy. Keep it simple. Get to the point.

Sooo, I went with statement 'A': "Yeah, I was just diagnosed with breast cancer again and had a double mastectomy a few weeks ago but I'm doing pretty well." Done. ....Insert dead silence here...wait for the pin to drop...and...the response was... "Oh. Wow."

Bomb. Dropped. Moving on.

So again, I ask you people on the other side of the cancer coin. Any suggestions or ways in which you would prefer for us cancer patients to break the news to you? Broadcast the diagnosis? Inform you of our health status ? Downplay those awkward moments?

Let me know, will you? I'm quite curious.


  1. I also liked the mass email message. It gave me time to process on my own and before I saw you in person.

  2. You're welcome & yes, I believe the mass emails are helpful. It allows people to process privately and on their own terms.

  3. I like the mass email, and really enjoy your blog. You have a great way of putting your perspective in words. There will always be people in your life that you do not know by email, so you will have to tell them. I have been that person before and asked a nurse at work her why she was wearing a hat (we were inside maybe it was not so direct but close)...and she said I have lung cancer. My heart sunk and panic set in how do I repsond. We ended up standing at the copy machine for 45 minutes talking about it and I stopped by her office every few days to talk. We ended up being good friends. I really appreciated her directness.

  4. Thanks Denise! I think both the blog and the mass emails have been helpful. I know you understand firsthand the delivery of such news. As for your direct incident at work, seems like it was meant to be. I know I prefer to be direct too! Wonderful that you were able to speak to that woman for so long. Very sweet.