How your parents feel when you are first diagnosed

All families are unique. You might not be close with your parents, and you may want to focus on other relationships instead. For many parents and carers though, your diagnosis will be a shockwave in their lives.

How your diagnosis affects your parents

Many parents and carers talk about the shock and devastation when their child is diagnosed. They might go through a range of strong emotions like anger and fear. They’ll also be thinking about the practicalities and what they need to sort out so that they can look after you.

Ultimately, cancer can lead them to feel protective towards you. This could be a comfort or it might feel stifling, especially if you’re used to being independent. Make them aware of how you feel. By calmly and clearly explaining what it is you’d like, you can establish boundaries and minimise the chance of any issues coming between you.

How do I talk honestly without upsetting them?

Talking about your cancer can be very emotional for everyone. If you talk to them about your fears then there’s always a possibility that they might become upset. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it’s good to be open with each other about your feelings. The people closest to you will prefer that you are honest with them. Even if it’s difficult, it’s better to get everything out in the open.

A good way to bring up serious or emotional topics with your parents is to do it in a calm environment while you’re focused on another task, like preparing some food or travelling in the car. This could help you to ease into the conversation and make it feel less intense.

It’s ok and normal to cry when talking to people about it. It helps them understand that it was difficult to tell them and that they are very important to you.

Feeling guilty

Lots of young people need their parents to care for them in different ways through treatment. This could involve help with money or a place to live. This can feel like a backwards step and can result in you feeling guilty about accepting support with practical, financial or emotional issues.

If you feel this way, try talking to your parents. It’s likely they’ll want you to concentrate on getting better, rather than worrying about these things so they should be able to set your mind at ease.