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How to break news of cancer to others

However bad and terrible any news or situation may be, it certainly would have to be revealed to those who are directly affected by that situation. The mode and process of breaking such news would often to a great extent determine how well the news is received by those concerned and how they adjust to the events thereafter. Cancer is a predatory, gruesome and deadly disease which by all means is bad news for the person diagnosed with the disease as well as friends and family of the person. Breaking such terrible news about oneself or about another person requires a lot of mental and emotional preparation and comportment for the person breaking the news as well as the recipients of the news. This is for the simple reason that if such devastating news is not properly managed and appropriately delivered, it could create additional psychological problems for those affected by the situation.

The ability to communicate clearly and honestly is very important in breaking such news. It would therefore be important to assemble and articulate all material information on the particular type of cancer the individual is diagnosed with, the prognosis as revealed by medical tests and examinations carried out, as well as discussions with relevant healthcare practitioners. The availability of such information puts the person in good position to be able to anticipate and answer questions that may come up upon breaking the news. This would imply that the person breaking the news takes necessary self preparation measures that would equip him or her to effectively communicate with those concerned without leaving gaps or creating confusion in the minds of the recipients of the news.

The next step would be to make a decision on whom to first break the news to. This is important because the first person or group of persons to receive the news should be expectedly play active roles in managing and bearing the burden of the illness during the period of treatment. It would therefore be necessary to put into consideration, how significant and close such people are to the person. It would be more reasonable that such news be first broken to a spouse in the case of a married couple and then the couple will jointly break the news to the children. This gives the couple the benefit of adequately grasping and processing the reality of the situation and deciding when and how best to break the news to the children, other family members and perhaps friends.

Timing is of critical essence in matters of this nature. It is always important and advisable to ensure that the atmosphere is conducive and the people in the right mood and frame of mind before introducing such an emotionally sensitive topic. A quiet and private atmosphere, possibly early in the morning or late in the evening may be ideal. This serves to eliminate or considerably reduce any form of distractions or interruptions during the discussion and therefore give room for maximum concentration.

It would also be necessary to be cautious in starting out the discussion. This would imply, carefully and wisely choosing the right words and expressions to use. This creates the enabling environment for the news to sink in while ensuring that those receiving it are not sent into prolonged shock. There certainly will be shock at hearing such terrible news about a loved one, but the topic should be introduced in such a manner that enables them to quickly recover from the initial shock and be able to focus on the matter and make meaningful contributions to the discussion.

Most importantly, it is necessary to take charge of the situation, by conveying an image of confidence and courage to those around. While not advocating for creation of false hopes, it is advisable to highlight the positives about the situation while ensuring that the negatives are not exaggerated. Expressing confidence in the midst of such a grim situation has a way of infusing hope and courage in people around and consequently helps every body develop positive attitudes and good coping skills which will prove valuable in the days ahead in dealing with the challenges that will be faced while receiving treatment for the ailment.





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