Support Tools: Telling People about Your Brain Tumour Diagnosis

How to tell a loved one about your brain tumour diagnosis can be a difficult choice to make. You might be unsure about how much information to share, or be worried about burdening the person you tell. There is no set time when you will feel ready to discuss your diagnosis with others. Only you know the right way to tell your family and friends.

Before you talk to someone about your diagnosis, think about your reasons for telling them and what you expect of them. There could be a wide range of reactions from your loved ones – they may feel uncomfortable because they don’t know what to say or how to act.

Here are a few tips to consider:

  • If someone’s reaction upsets you, try to talk with them about it. Explain exactly what type of response is most helpful to you. Letting your family and friends know what to expect from you physically and emotionally can be helpful.
  • Tell your family and friends that you need them to listen to you or that you don’t need them to say anything other than that they care and are there for you. This can help relieve pressure to respond, avoiding seemingly insensitive statements like, “I know just how you feel,” or, “You should try XYZ – it helped cure my friend’s brain tumour.”
  • Know that you don’t have to share every detail of your diagnosis if you don’t want to. Only answer questions you are comfortable with. However, before you speak with family and friends, be sure you are ready for the discussion that this may encourage. You can direct your loved ones to Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada’s website or toll-free support line (1-800-265-5106) should they want more information about brain tumours. Let them know you are still learning about the diagnosis yourself.
  • You may need to remind your family and friends that no one wants to talk about a single aspect of their life all the time. Try to talk about life outside of the brain tumour diagnosis – the latest movies, goings-on at work or your favourite TV show.

It’s important to remember that sharing can be helpful both to you and those close to you. Most likely your loved ones’ hearts are in the right place, and they want to help you any way they can, but they are not sure how. Be direct with others and express your needs and feelings openly.

When you keep other people involved and informed about your brain tumour diagnosis, it helps ease your emotional burden. Friends and family can share their strength with you and with each other, which can be helpful for everyone.


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