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

Let People Help You

Having ovarian cancer will put you in a vulnerable state -- physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Try to think about all these areas where you will be struggling and try to find people who are strong in those areas to help you. For instance, having someone who can give you a ride to your medical appointments when you physically can't do that on your own can be a way for someone to help you.
Some women may have spiritual struggles -- having a trusted friend or pastor who can help give you support and a listening ear during these times can help ease your burden.
Other friends and family members may be able to help with household chores, such as bringing out dinners, helping clean, or doing yard work. Also, if you have children, having someone who can come and give them some extra TLC and attention can help ease your worries there.

How to Respond When People Say Something You Don't Like

No matter how patient you are with people, there will come a time when things people say will bother you -- even if they had good intentions. Things like, "Just cheer up," or "Everything is going to be okay" -- these can hit that last nerve on some days. In many cases, people who are saying this basically don't know what to say to help you. Their intentions may be good, but they may be uncomfortable with listening to how your cancer treatment is affecting you.
You can try to tell them (gently) that you are not looking for advice or for someone to "fix" it, but you just need someone to talk to who will listen, without judgment or giving advice. If you find yourself uncomfortable talking to certain people about your feelings, try not to be discouraged by it. There are others you can talk to. You will find those key people who you feel comfortable in sharing your feelings with, without becoming irritated or annoyed by their responses. It may just take a little time and can be a trial-and-error process.
There may also be times when word of your battle with cancer has spread to people you barely know. If you are not comfortable discussing your situation with these people, do not be afraid to be honest and tell them you'd rather not discuss it. Don't let others pressure you into discussing anything you aren't comfortable with just for the sake of "being nice."
If someone says something that bothers you, try to talk to them about it if you can. Try to explain what type of response would be more helpful for you. You basically have to teach them about what's going on and how you're feeling. Their response may simply be because they don't understand your situation. Being honest about your feelings can help open the lines of communication with those who want to help you but just don't know what to say.
To help avoid some of these situations, having a Web site set up where people can go to check on your medical updates or post comments may help to avoid some of these uncomfortable confrontations. If someone posts something on your Web site you don't like, it will be easier to ignore it than if they were standing right in front of you.
You will find that people who are friends of a friend may be coming out of the woodwork to find out how you are doing. By setting limits and finding ways to avoid being bombarded, you can still keep them informed without being overwhelmed. Again, having someone tell them that they can check out your Web site or sign up for updates can help them to feel like they are in the loop without having them in your hair.
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