View Full Version : When do you tell family that you might have cancer?

09-16-2013, 02:34 AM
I have an egg size tumor in my uterus and have an appointment later this week with and oncologist (is that the right spelling?) at a cancer center.

I really hate to have anyone feel sorry for me or worry and I wish I could just deal with it entirely in secret, but if I have to have a hysterectomy, which I assume is a strong likelihood, I'll have to tell my family (elderly mom and teenage daughter).

Should I mention a few days before my appointment that I am being referred to a cancer doctor, or should I wait until after the appointment when maybe I'll know more?

How in the world does a person start the conversation? 'Oh by the way...' doesn't sound right.

09-16-2013, 03:16 AM
Hello. I am sorry you are having these worries. We can let people know we are going for tests or we can wait till any results are in. It is up to the individual of course.
One thing to remember though is that you do not have cancer until you are told you do.
Our minds go haywire with worst case scenarios at this stressful times of finding out exactly what it is we have and the wait is horrendous.

Please let us know how you go.
Good luck and best wishes.

09-18-2013, 07:07 PM
Sorry to hear of your experiences. My wife had one the size of a grapefruit but it was benign. I hope yours is also. I found it easier not to tell anyone anything until I knew what was going on. Although well meaning, my family is a pain in the ass and would hound me every day asking how I was doing and if I got any results yet. I almost didn't want to answer the phone so I don't even tell them when I have appointments anymore..
Good luck and I hope we never have to hear from you again.

09-28-2013, 07:06 PM
I did finally mention it to my family, a bit at a time, not mentioning cancer to begin with just mentioning that my doctor was referring me for medical test because I might need a hysterectomy. Then a few days later I mentioned 'there might be some cancerous cells' (I thought that sounded better than saying "I" might "have cancer" which seems much scarier!).
Then when I finally got the biopsy results that said the type of cancer (endometrial), I told them that, but only because my teenager had demanded I come to the living room and tell her everything. I guess she'd told her friends/teachers and they all asked what kind.
She feels a little better because one of her favorite teachers has told her that she had endometrial cancer but it was caught early and the teacher has been fine since her hysterectomy.
But I've been ignoring symptoms for quite a while and too chicken to get the biopsy that was actually recommended a couple years ago before I had any symptoms at all. So I feel like probably mine has metastasized (if that is the right word) after all this time. I am having lots of soreness now in the glands under one of my arms. I don't know if that is significant, but it seems ominous.
I hope I can at least hold on a few more years if I get chemo etc, but I don't know. The doctor provides no information at all and just keeps repeating that he won't know until a week after surgery whether it is found in the lymph nodes.
I get surgery in two days. Never had surgery before so freaking out. Not so freaked out about the surgery but about hospital instructions like leave overnight bag in the car and have family bring it to me once I have a room (I don't want either my frail old mom or my crazy teen driver going into rush hour downtown traffic (why do cancer centers get put in horrid driving areas?).
Then they say bring slippers. I never wear slippers, I have arch pain and always put on my shoes even if I just get up at night to go to the bathroom. I want my bag with me and I want to be able to wear my shoes, they aren't any harder to put on than slippers. I am just going to not take slippers (which I don't have anyway)!

09-29-2013, 12:08 AM
Hi, I am new here also. I have a kidney tumour and will be finding out more info when I see the specialist this week (eg if we need to remove my kidney or not).

I can empathise with the confusion and frustration :S I don't know about the medical parts of your post, like how likely it is to have metastised. I do know that the brain can be pretty clever and make us feel things that we don't really feel - eg for about a week after we found my tumour my right side was constantly aching... That was all in my head though, and now I'm feeling less stressed about it all it doesn't hurt anymore. I hope that maybe your worried mind has made the pain feel worse under your arms, like mine did for my side.

Good luck. Do you have a help line that you can call to get some advice/reassurance? Eg in Australia we have the Cancer Council help line. I called them just with some basic questions and found it was helpful just to talk about the situation with someone. It was oddly reassuring to speak to a stranger too, because I didn't have to worry about looking after her feelings, I could just focus on my own concerns and not have to play down the situation or put in damage control. It sounds like you have spent a lot of time comforting other people when you've spoken about your situation.

I am not sure where you are from, but there is an American free hotline service here: http://www.cancer.org/aboutus/howwehelpyou/helpingyougetwell/need-answers-1-800-227-2345
And if you are from Australia then there is the Cancer Council's one here: http://www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/patient-support/cancer-council-helpline.html

They can also talk to you about the logistics of your hospital visit - eg the shoes and the overnight bag worries.

Good luck.

09-30-2013, 08:22 PM
I was in a similar situation after a D&C revealed that I had endometrial cancer. I knew it was grade 1, but I did not know the stage. Because this cancer has a high cure rate, I decided to wait until after I knew the stage following my hysterectomy, with the hope that I could deliver the scary news about cancer with good news about my prognosis. I told them the hysterectomy was because the lining of my uterus was too thick. I am lucky, because it turned out that I had very early stage cancer, so the hysterectomy is the cure (along with close follow-up care). I am glad that I did not cause my family weeks of unnecessary worry, but I am a little odd in that I do not like people to fuss over me or worry about me.

Of course, you must do what feels right for you. Some people really need and want the support of their families through the days and weeks of waiting for procedures and pathology results because it helps to ease their anxiety. If you feel this way, then you should tell your family because they can support you.

In the end, whatever you decide will be the right choice, because it will be the choice that feels right to YOU. So follow your heart. My prayers are with you.

10-18-2013, 02:16 AM
I am sure you are past this now, but you go girl ! wear your shoes if that is what makes you feel good. Take a small bag and have it delivered to you when you get a room assignment - from inside the hospital..... rules are general - there are always exceptions and bending to make a patient more comfortable. I am praying for you and your results to be good as can be.