Talking cancer

This is never easy.

I found it the hardest thing to pick up the phone and tell my family I have cancer. I couldn’t do it straight away, so I sent them all a text, knowing I’d have a bit of time to prepare myself for the follow-up calls. To some, this might seem cold. But for me, it was the only way to stay in control (more on that later!).

I found out about my cancer the week before going back to work after the summer break. What to do? Wear a badge, maybe? I told a few friends, but stuck to the usual script for everyone else. I was expecting the call for surgery within days, so it was difficult to face my students and explain what was going on. I leaked the truth in stages.


Some people were supportive when dealing with my new circumstances. They said how sorry they were, and listened when needed. Top marks to them.

Some were fine but well-meaning, and did that thing where you tell someone a story about a relative/friend who had cancer and survived. That’s OK, but doesn’t really help. It’s a cliché, but everyone is different, and this is happening to you. You alone. You’re probably still processing, and maybe don’t know whether you’ll survive.

Others just avoided the subject. Not a major problem, but not helpful either.

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