7 Tips for Talking to Family and Friends About Metastatic Breast Cancer

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Know that you’re always in control of the conversation. When you’re communicating with family and friends about your diagnosis, the amount of information you share and the feelings you share are up to you.

Communicate openly with your partner. Be honest about what you need, and ask your partner what he or she needs. Make sure the two of you have regular alone time together.

Involve your partner in your medical appointments. Introduce your partner to your medical team and talk about the diagnosis and treatment plan as a group. This way, your partner will understand how to help you manage any side effects, as well as any physical limitations you may have as a result of the treatment.

Adjust household tasks and responsibilities. Take a look at the list of tasks and find ways to delegate things such as meal preparation, child care, and cleaning. Ask for help from other family members and friends, or ask a social worker for names of local services or organizations that provide volunteer help.

Get professional help if you need it. Sometimes the way each person in a relationship deals with cancer is very different. You may have different coping styles. You also may experience changes in your sexual relationship because of treatment side effects such as fatigue or lowered libido. A counselor or therapist can help you learn the best ways to support and be there for each other.

Be honest with young children. It may be tempting to shield small children from your diagnosis, but they notice stress in family members, disrupted routines, and changes in appearance. You don’t have to share every detail, but it’s important to answer questions honestly and provide reassurance.

Give older children all the information they need. Older children may want to know more details about your diagnosis than younger children, especially if they see metastatic breast cancer discussed in the news. Encourage them to continue with regular school and social routines to preserve a sense of normalcy.

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