I found a lump

Dear Suzie, I hope your well, I need some advice please. I round a lump in my breast, now I have to go for the usual tests-mamogramm etc etc, my daughter is 22 and my son is 12, am divorced but my kids live with their dad… I have noone to confide in as everyone else has their own problems. What I want to know is should I tell my daughter and son about the lump or should I wait for the results? I just dont know whats the best thing to do. thank u

I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for you. The good news is that most lumps are benign – harmless, not cancerous. And that even when it is malignant the odds on coming through treatment and staying well are getting better and better. I’ve had several friends and relatives diagnosed with breast cancer – all are thriving.

There seem to be two issues here – how to get some support, and whether to tell your adult children about it. You need someone to talk to, whether the diagnosis is hopeful or scary. Your own doctor should be someone you can talk to and you can also contact Macmillan Cancer Support.

And I also think you should think again about dismissing those around you by saying “everyone else has their own problems”. So they do. And so do you. And what we do when we live in a community is share those problems – you listen and help with theirs and they listen and help with yours. Give those around you the chance to come through for you.

But about your children. Well, it all depends on your motives for telling them. If you’re in touch they need to know to understand why you may be on edge and worried. Clearly, if the motive for telling them was to make them feel guilty or bad about not being with you, to blackmail them into making or keeping contact or as a way of trumping their fathers relationship with them it would be unethical and not very kind. But keeping the fact that you are struggling with a difficult situation out of a wish to protect them is both counter productive and patronising. They’re big – they can cope if they need to know. And I would think any family member who loves you needs to know, either that you’re waiting such tests nervously and would appreciate some encouragement; or that you’ve had a scare that fortunately turned out ok; or, that you need treatment and would welcome support.

Having a cancer scare or finding you have such a condition is often something that turns people around. It sounds as if, whatever the reason your children were living with their father, you and they might have missed out on a close relationship. Maybe this can be the catalyst for making it stronger.

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