For most people who learn they are at increased cancer risk, they will share that information with other people in their lives. This may include partners (new or current), children (adult and/or younger children), friends, family members and potentially even employers.
This section is to help guide you when preparing to share information about an increased cancer risk with others.
Sharing information about your increased cancer risk or health with people you love and who you feel will be supportive of you can be invaluable. This is because there may be times you want to talk about your situation and/or would like or need their support.
It may help you understand your own feelings, or to make difficult decisions. In some situations, it may be important to share information about an increased cancer risk with other family members because it has direct implications for their health.
In preparing to share information, you may have questions about what to share, how and when to share this information and how to manage any expected or unexpected reactions.
Thinking about how you feel about sharing the information and working out a plan of how and when to share the information can be useful groundwork to help you feel prepared. Remember, there are lots of options to seek further support if you are unsure or know you need more support.
Your emotions and readiness
For some people the process of sharing information feels easy, and for others it is harder. It is important to think about if you feel ready to have a conversation. This is because how you think of the situation will be conveyed in how you relay the information to others.
When sharing increased cancer risk information with relatives many people can naturally experience feelings of guilt, worry, concern, anxiety and fear. These feelings arise as people can often worry about the meaning of the information for their relatives and how their relatives might respond. Although it is natural to experience these feelings, if you are overwhelmed, e.g. thinking about it every day, or your feelings are stopping you from sharing information, it is advisable to seek help before you speak to your relatives.
Equally if the opinions of other family members are different from yours about who to talk to and what information to share this may also be a reason to seek help.
Familial Cancer Clinics, psychologists, and/or your GP are all good sources of help for parents who need to work through their feelings and approach about sharing cancer risk information.
Below are some questions you may want to ask yourself to examine your readiness.
Questions you might find useful to ask yourselves include:
- When I think about talking about cancer risk information with others how or what do
I feel (think about thoughts, feelings and/or physical sensations?)
- How confident am I that I understand this information?
- What are the reasons I wish to share this information?
- How do I feel about my people’s views about me sharing cancer risk information with others in my life?
- Do I feel comfortable with what specific information to share?
- Have I thought about what I might say and how I might explain it?
Help and Resources
There are many people who can help you if you feel unsure about talking to others.
Sources of support can include your Familial Cancer Clinic, GP, psychologists.
Some women can also find talking to other family members, friends and other women who are in a similar situation sometimes helpful.