A cancer diagnosis can permanently change a family's priorities and values, often in surprisingly positive ways. The most important factors in family relationships are speaking honestly and knowing that family members are there and ready when needed.
Here are some tips for bringing the family into the cancer care team, strengthening relationships, and working together effectively:
- Communicate honestly about the diagnosis and the feelings it causes.
- Ask for help from the family when needed.
- Keep the family informed of both good and bad health developments.
- It's important to let young children in the family know about the cancer, too.
- Remember that the true target of negative feelings is usually the cancer, not the person.
- Discussing difficult issues can lead to more respect and understanding in the family.
There is no rule for how much information to share with friends and acquaintances. It is a completely personal decision. The amount shared may vary from person to person. Close friends can be an important source of help—both with moral support and with practical concerns such as rides, child care, and household chores.
When, how, and how much to tell an employer is another personal decision. Before discussing it, find out from your health care team how treatment and recovery may impact your job. Some laws offer protection for cancer survivors in the workplace.
For more information about communicating with loved ones, go to the Patient and Family Support webpage or call 801-585-9755.