I had planned to visit my family that weekend and so I was presented with a dilemma. On the one hand I knew I could pretend everything was fine, they would never know and I would have a normal weekend. On the other hand I thought that they would be upset if I got any further into the process without telling them. As I knew I had something pretty bad I decided that it would be easier to tell them in advance of me coming down. This was a mistake.
If I have any advice for anyone else under investigation for a health condition it would be make sure you have all of the facts before you tell anyone (other than your partner). This has been seconded by my friend who has been diagnosed with MS). Unfortunately he gave me this advice too late. If you tell people when you do not have all the facts then they will be really upset, and you will have no answers for them. Then they will have to wait for you to find out what you have before and you make the problem, emotions worse than it might have been The other thing to remember is that a lot of the process of dealing with bad news is helping others cope with it. To be able to do this you have to have a handle on how you feel before you can pass on the news.
My family reacted well as it transpired. The news was not met with delight, but only one person broke down (this is not a negative, it just shows how deeply they care about me). I had no answers for them though and the weekend proceeded in the same light.
Also remember that telling people is OK , but when you tell people you may not be able to stop the news spreading further. I can confirm that I originally told nine people that weekend. Early the following week at least 43 people knew. I worked it out on a sheet of paper. The reason for this is that each person will tell one or more people with the strict instruction not to tell anyone else. You would be surprised how many people say ‘well I only told so and so and they won’t tell anyone.’ I then pointed out that if they told one other person and the same thing it would spread. This is exactly what happened.
I ended up having a nice weekend as it transpired, but it was tough. So many questions and no answers. It would have been simpler to hold my emotions in check and have a last weekend where there was no elephant in the room. My family were all really good about it individually, but the cumulative effect was really tough.
With this comes a new mind-set and you need to remember that its not just you who is dealing with it, but all your friends and family. Whilst they provide a strong support network, you also have to work with them to help them through it just as much (or more) than they do you.