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Telling Your Friends and Co-Workers About Breast Cancer

You’ve told your children about your diagnosis. Now how do you break the news to everyone else?

By Emily Anderson

If you’ve just been diagnosed with breast cancer, the last thing you want to think about is sharing such personal news with those outside your family and closest friends. Once you begin to anticipate and undergo treatment, though, you’ll likely find it necessary to clue in your co-workers and friends on your situation, particularly if your treatment is forcing you to significantly rearrange your schedule. Because telling your story over and over again is tiring, or because you may be reluctant to discuss the details within earshot of your children, you might opt to send an e-mail or letter explaining the news.

We’ve created a sample e-mail that can serve as a model if you choose to send a message to your friends and co-workers. Modify the letter to suit your needs—you might add details such as how your treatment will affect your work schedule and how your friends can be most helpful during this time.

Dear friends,

I’ve recently received some bad news—I have been diagnosed with breast cancer. As you can imagine, this came as quite a shock and has made for a highly stressful time for our family.

We are, of course, taking the necessary steps to treat this and get on with life. The bad news is that my treatment will include [fill in as much or as little of your plans here]. The good news is that I am in the care of wonderful doctors who are doing everything they can to get my health back on track. After much thought, I have made the decision to [continue working/take a break from work] during my treatment.

I am grateful for your friendship and hopeful that I will be in your thoughts and prayers in the coming months.

Sincerely yours,

Your Name Here

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