I Don't Want to Talk About my Cancer During the Holidays

Dec 22, 2021 | Megan Roessler M. Ed. | @meganroessler

The holidays are pressing upon us.  Many of us will see family members that we don't see very often.  And of course, they are going to want an update on your illness, treatments, prognosis.  They may start telling you of every person or even dog they know that has or had cancer.  Even if they are asking (perhaps awkwardly!) about how you are doing, it is likely because they care.  However, it is perfectly fine to put your needs first.  You want to enjoy the day with your family.  You may not want to talk about cancer. For a day.  Just one day.

This is a natural and understandable desire to anyone who has experienced cancer.  It may not be so understandable to someone who has not.  I have heard many cancer patients say, "I was enjoying myself and had forgotten for a moment about my cancer...until someone else brought it up!"  If you would like to have a day free from the topic, you will need to communicate this to people.  You decide what your boundary is.  Maybe cancer is off limits for the entire day.  Maybe you don't want to talk about it during meal time.  Maybe you will give a 5 minute update and then you are done.  Onto another topic!  Think about sending out an email or a text to the people you will see and inform them of your wishes.  If that is too hard, perhaps you can enlist another family member to do it on your behalf.

If someone in your family doesn't get the memo, or chooses to completely ignore it, add some humor.  Tell them they have to tell you a joke first if they want any information!  Hopefully that tactic will relax the situation, especially for other family members who did read the memo and are wondering "Why is he asking??"

What ways have you changed the topic of conversation, when you are not feeling like talking about cancer?

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