How Do I Tell My Family?

talkfamily How Do I Tell My Family?I’m getting married on Sunday, and I still don’t know whether or not I should tell my family and friends about my early diagnosis of breast cancer. After all, the doctor hasn’t done all the tests yet, and it might not be breast cancer after all. A girl can hope, can’t she?

Questions flood my mind in the moments between tears. Dammit! I don’t have time for tears! I have a wedding to prepare for.

My fiancee and I talk about how to handle this. We decide we don’t want to tell anyone just yet. After all, we want tears of joy at our wedding, not tears of sorrow. We don’t want people crying over how “tragic” this is, on the happiest day of our lives.

But my mother knows I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday, and she is persistent when she asks me how it went. I tell her “We don’t know anything for sure yet, but I told the nurse that if it is bad news, I don’t want to know until after the wedding”.

Without batting an eye, my mother looks at me and says “Well of course, for legal reasons”. It took me a few moments to figure out what the heck she was talking about. Suddenly it dawns on me that she is implying that my wonderful husband-​​to-​​be probably won’t want to marry me if he knows I have breast cancer before the wedding! The horror of her implication sinks in, and I am shocked by it.

This moment is the first of what I am sure will be many moments I look back on as life’s little “lessons” in surviving this. I realize that her concern is based on her love for me, however misplaced her concerns may be. In that moment, she no longer sees me as beautiful, vibrant, in love with life, with a man who loves me in both sickness and in health. She sees me the way many people will soon see me, a woman who deserves pity rather than admiration, a woman who has “a disease” and is flawed in some way. She believes that in sickness, my wonderful fiancee may not be willing to take this path at my side, and that I may be more trouble than I’m worth.

I breathe slowly for a few moments, letting my immediate anger flow out of my body, concentrating on staying positive and understanding that she is worried about me and loves me.

And I walk away without saying a word.

This moment is a lesson I am sure will be repeated often in the coming months. Not everyone will know what to say, nor will everyone say the right things at the right times. The most important thing for me to remember is that for me to heal, I must remain closely focused on being positive, seeing the humor in everything, and finding my happy place to retreat to when I need peace and tranquility.

In fact, this moment reminds me of the importance of keeping this diagnosis just between us for a while, at least until after the wedding. Rather than burden our family and friends with knowing about my “condition”, Michel and I decide we will stay focused on our beautiful day, our wedding, the happiest day of our lives (so far) and we will wait to share our news until after the wedding and honeymoon.

4 Comments so far »

  1. Artamia said on:

    September 9, 2006 at 5:08 am

    Dear Sylvie,

    May you be Blessed on your healing journey. You are already a cancer warrior and a survivor — because you do not fear it.

    As Dr. Mani said: “…The good news: the cancer is beatable… It is a fight you WILL win — keep up the great attitude… YOU, Sylvie, most definitely are a WINNER!”

    When you are diagnosed with cancer, you have options… You have will, imagination, powerful natural body’s abilities within you that you can stimulate by using your emotions, mind and its creative healing imagery… Let all your happy memories and love that surround you create a shield and help you fight the cancer.

    The miracles are ready — if our mind be-​​so.”

    May our prayers Bless You,
    Sylvie, with love and health
    for these are the
    true measures of
    joy and wealth.

    May our Prayers grant you lightness in your step,
    a smile on every face you meet,
    Loved ones gathered at your hearth,
    and at your door, good friends to greet.

    A happy smile upon your lips,
    a window candle burning bright,
    And may our Prayers bless your
    Heart and come to dwell there
    days and nights.

    May your friends’ love and prayers be the sentry
    that stands guard over your health and shield it from
    all harm, and may our Blessings sent your way,
    sustain and help you win the battle with cancer!

    By all our Prayers may you be blessed today.

    There’s the joy of hope in all our blessings
    and prayers sent for you,
    There’s love and friendship,
    There’s a touch of magic, too.

    There’s a hope that love and laughter
    Will steal your heart away
    And a prayer that all you’re wishing
    God grant you and yours
    Today, and next Monday,
    September the 11th … and always.
    And may you be blessed
    during all your healing path.

    May our Blessings keep you safe, and May our
    Prayers keep you strong and stop the harm.


    (Edited and adapted from Irish Blessings for Sylvie Fortin,
    a Lover, a Wife, a Mother, a Goddess, a Warrior and a Victor)

  2. Roxane said on:

    September 9, 2006 at 3:08 pm

    Hello you gorgeous woman you. ;)

    When you told me the news of your diagnosis, I remember thinking how unfair and cruel the whole situation was. You were about to get married in a few days…you needed and deserved to be envelopped in a cocoon of love and happy events to cherish.…and then this! These thoughts ran through my head in a flash…and then I shook myself and thought that regardless what this is, it is.

    It is not a sentence nor are you a victim. You are a woman I know very well, whom I love and cherish that got dealt a bad card. Having been present during both my paren’t fight with cancer, I remember the negative environment in which my family lived and how the pain was overwhelming at times. But I was projecting on you my past experience with it. I have also been blessed with sharing some positive ones and you are no exception. I made a deal with myself that day…what to hear it? ;)

    You do not need my tears or my worry because I KNOW…without a shadow of a doubt, that you will win this battle. You are very much a warrior and have been marching to your own drum for a long time. I am deeply proud of your accomplishments and your heart. You are a success, not because of your career but because you are you. Not plain and simple but beautifully complex and perfect…just as you are!

    I would just like to share with everyone a few wisdoms learnt from having shouldered another though this battle. These come from my experiences but I hope they can assist others in remembering what IS important.

    I, myself, cannot treat the cancer but I can be a shoulder for the woman and your family. You are not an extension of your cancer but a strong, vibrant, loving woman living with cancer.

    There is a difference there and one that does not change you.

    You are and will always be; beautiful (inside and out), feminine, human, intelligent, creative, loving, and sexy. That doesn’t change because of what you are living, I feel it enhances it actually. You are ever reminded of the moment. You do not deserve pity as pity is food for others having a hard time living with your news. It is, as I did for a split second, a projection of fear.

    It is ok to be afraid or scared and this may be a wonderful opportunity to face something that may be difficult to many. It is not an end but a beginning. One of many more I am sure of. A “lump” in the road as you mentioned. But this lovely lump shall to pass.
    Laugh, joke, be positive and you will see that this is not a death sentence but an opportunity to experience a soul at a far deeper level. An opportunity to grow.

    To our family, I wish you courage and send you my love.

    Michel and Sylvie, you are truly an inspiration. Sylvie, I send you my prayers, positive blessings and my love.


  3. Nell Taliercio said on:

    September 11, 2006 at 1:04 am

    You know, I’ve gone through a pretty terrible year myself and I’ve found that most people do not know what to say or how to say it and often say something that isn’t very helpful. But I try very hard to understand they truly do care and just don’t know what to say.

    I think you are one brave woman and know you will look cancer right in the eye and not back down until it is destroyed. You have a unique spirit and with Michael and your family’s love and support you WILL make it through and be stronger in the end.

  4. Bonnie Fournier said on:

    September 11, 2006 at 1:27 pm

    Dear Sylvie and Michel;

    My thoughts and good vibes are with you both.

    I am a Retired Nurse and I am very familiar with the Surgery and Recovery process from Mastectomies.

    Committment, loyalty and gratitude…these apply to family, friends, Physicians and all the experienced, dedicated to your Health needs.

    Your Michel is loyal and filled with love for you…I feel it in his mailings.

    You have Family that love and support you with all they can muster…AND
    there are so many faces you have never seen who are cheering you on with thoughts and spiritually.

    Cancer has no face so there isn’t a need to see our face…just feel our love and hopes for you and Michel…the strength is there with you…


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