How to Tell Family and Friends
1. Choose the right environment.
Schedule a time to talk when there are no other distractions. Choose a quiet place, turn off TV sets, computers and cell phones.
2. Plan what you're going to say
Think about the things that you want to say, even write them down so you don't forget. It's an emotional time, so rehearse what you want to say.
3. Have all the information available
Do your research. Know the type of melanoma that you have, the stage that the cancer is, and the treatment plan. If a friend or family member has questions, invite them to come along to your doctor so that they can get answers. Share with them information that your doctor's office has given you or that you've researched.
4. Taking your loved ones to a nurse/doctor visit
Encourage them to write down questions down ahead of time so that they can ask them during the visit. Remind them that they are there to help support you. Have them keep a calendar of doctor's appointments and/or treatments.
5. Learn to ask for help and accept help offered
Remember that the reason you've told most of these people is that they're a big part of your life. Allow them to help you when you are feeling well and when you are not. Remember that people give support in different ways. To some it is financial; to others it is through preparing us meals, helping us with errands, taking care of your children, or lending us a shoulder to cry on or a hand to hold. There are also many outside resources that are available to you like transportation to treatments or doctor's appointments, meals delivered to your home, and support groups.
6. Tips for telling children
No matter what their age, always be honest. Allow children to ask any question, and answer all questions honestly. You may answer with a more simple response with small children, and explain in fuller detail to older children. Remember that if children are not told the truth, they will often imagine the worst. Explain simple facts about melanoma: what melanoma is; that you will be going to the doctor's just like they do to get better; and what you will look like, if any physical changes are expected throughout your treatment.
Always stress that they did nothing to make you sick. Reassure them that cancer is not contagious. Let them know that they will have many questions, feelings and emotions about what they are being told, and encourage them that it's always to okay to express them. Explain that people around them may act differently because they're concerned about you and them.