How Do I Tell My Family and Friends I Have Ovarian Cancer?

What to Say

With a little bit of planning, you can talk about however much you want to share. You may want to explain that you have a type of cancer that affects the ovaries and let them know what stage it's in. You may also want to discuss some of your treatment plan and what your prognosis looks like.
Keep in mind some of your "trigger points," which are the topics that may still be too difficult for you to talk about yet. Some of these may include areas that can make you angry, such as when someone questions your course of treatment. Try to think about some of the things people may say that might make you angry or upset, and try to think about how you might respond. In some cases, you may need to plan a simple response that basically ends that part of the conversation, such as, "Let's talk about something else. I'm not ready to talk about that yet."
When you first start talking to people, that initial conversation will likely be the toughest. After you have told those closest to you and a few friends, you may start to become tired of talking about it over and over again. You may want to consider setting up a blog or a Web site, such as through CaringBridge, where you can share information or post medical updates to a group of people. This can help keep you from having to repeat information or even having to talk directly to people that you may not want to talk to.

How to Handle Others' Reactions

In many cases, people who have just heard the news that you have ovarian cancer will initially be in a state of shock. Often, their first reaction is a nonreaction -- they simply don't know what to say. People who care about you may struggle at first with what to say, as they don't want to say the wrong thing that may upset you. It is common for people's first reaction to be the thought of losing you, which can be so overwhelming that their reaction may be one you could have never predicted.
Although you may feel that you need reassurance from the people you are telling, be prepared to be the one who ends up reassuring them. You may need to reassure them that you need them to give you strength and encouragement to do what it takes to battle ovarian cancer.
Some of people's first reactions may be, "What can I do to help?" Be prepared for this question to come up and really think about how you may need help.
While it can be difficult to ask people for help, it's important to remember that the people who care about you want to help you in any way that they can. By letting them help you, they can help relieve some of your burden. You may initially respond that there's nothing they can do and that you're "just fine." Although you may feel that you can handle things on your own, try to be open to ways of letting people be a part of your life and help you through this journey.
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Ovarian Cancer Information

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