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How one man told his wife and kids he had cancer

Sharing his prostate cancer diagnosis with those closest to him wasn't easy, but 63-year-old Steve from Boston found the courage for some real talk. Here's how. 

 

HOW DID YOU TELL YOUR WIFE YOU HAD PROSTATE CANCER?

 

My wife and I have always been very open with each other. Even when we argue, we are throwing jokes out there. She'd always been there for me so my wife was the first person I told about my diagnosis. When I came out of the doctor's office after receiving my diagnosis and saw her, I just said it, "Oh, I have cancer."

WHAT WAS HER IMMEDIATE RESPONSE?

 

My wife is my rock. She looked me right in the eye and said, "We got this." It was the best thing anyone said to me the whole time I was in treatment.

WAS IT DIFFICULT TO TELL YOUR WIFE?

 

You must talk with each other, be there for one another. My wife just immediately jumped in to support me. She's a brilliant, take-charge kind of woman. She was the one who would jot down all my questions before appointments, took over the household duties, made me a sandwich for lunch and sent me to my treatments with it. She was right there with me, saying, "This is what I'm here for."

YOU HAVE TWO CHILDREN. HOW DID YOU SHARE THE NEWS WITH THEM?

 

I have a daughter and a son. I had to tell them right away. I didn't want them to hear from someone else. How did I tell them? I would say I told them through some heartfelt conversations over the phone. I told my brothers and sisters right away, too. I had to get it out there. That's part of the healing process. If you tell people right away, then they know what you're going through. I wanted to tell my brothers especially so they'd know the risks, too, and their family history.

HOW DID YOUR KIDS TAKE THE NEWS?

 

My daughter is 36 and a licensed therapist. After I told her, she was very supportive. She'd send me texts saying things like, "Good luck, Dad," and "I'm here for you." She'd call and email and ask if I needed anything. At the beginning, it was a bit harder for my son, I think.

WHO ELSE CLOSE TO YOU DID YOU TELL RIGHT AWAY?

 

My sister. She's a nurse and very blunt. Through the whole process, she was there, telling me: "You do this, now," or "You call and tell them this." Or sometimes, when I would tell her what was going on, she'd say "That's not good enough." My sister was a great source of support. 

WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT TO COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR FAMILY?

 

Prostate cancer is something that affects the whole family. I felt so strongly about this that after I was diagnosed, I talked at churches on Father's Day about how African American men are at increased risk for prostate cancer. I introduced the topic in my own church, too. Half a dozen men came up to me after, sharing stories and wanting to talk about it.

ARE YOU GLAD YOU COULD TALK OPENLY WITH YOUR FAMILY ABOUT PROSTATE CANCER?

 

I wouldn't be able to talk openly without my wife and my two adult children. I love them to death. At the end of the day, you move forward for them, and then for yourself. You have to let them in so they can be there with you, and for you.