The reactions of family members tended to vary greatly. Some family members coped better than expected, while others were unexpectedly more upset.
Explains that people react and cope in different and often surprising ways.
Some women described the impact of their diagnosis on siblings, and one woman explained how she had to support and reassure family and relatives. Another recalled that her family’s reaction was overwhelming and this made her reluctant to talk to them at the time.
Explains that her family’s reaction was upsetting and she felt reluctant to speak to them at that…
One woman explained that she was anxious about telling family about her diagnosis because her sister had died of breast cancer.
Several women found that, while family members were often shocked and upset by the news of their diagnosis, they were also supportive and helpful following the initial shock. Practical support was often as important as emotional.
Some women explained that telling their elderly parents was more difficult than telling other family members, and that they did not want to worry them. Elderly parents often found it difficult accepting the news of their children’s ill health while they themselves were well. A young woman, whose family had a history of breast cancer, described having to support her mother. Another, who was reluctant to tell her poorly father, described that she had no other option when she bumped into him at the hospital.
Describes reassuring her mother who felt that she, not her daughter, ought to have developed…
Explains that she found it difficult to tell her father about her diagnosis.
Women were often unsure what and how much to tell children, and this depended very much on a child’s age. Several women explained that their grown up children were supportive, and often sought out more information for them or accompanied them to hospital appointments.
One woman described her children being angry and reluctant to discuss her illness. Another discussed the strength of her teenage daughters, and how they took more responsibility for household chores after her diagnosis.
Explains how her children seemed angry with her being ill and hadn’t found a way to talk to her…
Some women were concerned about their daughters and other female relatives because of their own diagnosis. Those with very young children selectively gave them small amounts of information. Several women stressed the importance of explaining their illness fully to their children in a way they could understand. One of these women described how, having experienced something similar as a child, she was concerned that her son knew the whole story.
Many women noted that each child reacted and coped in different ways. Two women with children under 7 said they would tell them more about breast cancer when they were able to understand.
Explains her concern for other female family members since her own diagnosis.
Explains that she told her son the truth about her illness having experienced something similar…
Some women discussed how their illness had brought the family closer, and one woman felt that her children were now much more understanding and compassionate.
Women also discussed the impact of their diagnosis on their partners (see Body image).