Living with cancer blog

What's taboo to you as a cancer survivor?

By Sheryl M. Ness, R.N. August 28, 2014

This week, let's talk about taboo topics. As a cancer survivor, you probably have certain topics that are taboo to either you, or your family and friends.

Taboo topics aren't easy to talk about. A few that come to my mind are diagnosis, prognosis, recurrence, and end-of-life discussions. Others include sex, body image, and feelings of guilt and loss. Perhaps you're returning to work after treatment and you need a way to update your co-workers on how you're doing.

Taboo topics are difficult to think about, talk about and confront. However, they're probably the ones that cause a lot of emotional pain or anxiety if you have no way of talking about them. This is true for both a person living with cancer and their family and close friends. We worry about each other, this is a natural reaction. We also have fear and anxiety over things that we can't control.

So, how do you bring up taboo topics?

One way is to first write out your thoughts so that you have a way of putting words to your feelings and emotions. Next, reflect on what you wrote, and next to each concern, identify one way that those around you might help you with the concern. Also think about what you can do to address the fear or concern on your own.

Practice bringing up the topic, like you would when you're with the other person. This is a practical way to lessen the fear and anxiety when the time comes to talk about it for real.

Many times, the people around you who love and care about you are waiting for a cue from you, to let them know it's OK to talk about the subject. Once you open up, you may find that they're ready to talk about it and provide the support you need. If you never bring it up, they may think you aren't worried about it or are also too afraid to bring it up.

What's taboo to you? Share on the blog the topics that you've found difficult to bring up to others around you. This is the perfect, safe place to talk about it with others who are probably feeling the same way. What worked best for you?

With

Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.

Follow on Twitter: @SherylNess1

Join the discussion at #livingwithcancer.

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Aug. 28, 2014