Setting Boundaries Following a Cancer Diagnosis

Setting Boundaries Following a Cancer Diagnosis

It’s the holidays. There are expectations across the world regarding traveling and giving others your time and energy.

All relationships and situations have boundaries. Necessary in all relationships, boundaries ensure that both people involved are respectful and appropriate.

Following a cancer diagnosis, it is more important than ever to establish your boundaries in your relationships.

No one has their usual energy level during cancer. No one has the same tolerance or patience or capacity to modulate feelings as they did before. Maintaining good relationships with our caregivers, families, friends, and work colleagues may take more thought than it has in the past.

The most important rule is to take the best possible care of yourself in all circumstances and do what is best for you.

Setting Boundaries: Things to Consider

  • It is important early on to think about how much information you want to share with others. The answer varies depending on the person, but you don’t owe anyone any more than you want to share. Remember that, once said, you can’t take it back.
  • With your family and close friends, you likely will choose to divulge most of the details of your diagnosis and treatment. If it is important to you, ask them not to share this information.
  • With work colleagues and more distant friends, it is often preferable to say less. If someone presses you for details, it is perfectly OK to say: I would rather not say more about this.
  • If someone begins a story about a friend who had a dire experience with cancer, feel free to stop the conversation: Please don’t tell me this story; it is not helpful.
  • You do not need to do everything others want you to do. With the holidays, it is okay to give yourself grace and rest as opposed to traveling or having visitors.
  • It is important to preserve your energy and time for the important parts of your life. If you want to go out in the evening, take a nap in the afternoon. Accept invitations with the caveat that you may need to cancel at the last moment. Prioritize your usual tasks and consider what can be left undone or delegated to someone else.
  • Limit what you take on. A good habit is to start from No when someone makes a request or extends an invitation, you may decide that you want to accept, but begin your thought process from the other perspective. Plan everything in pencil and tell your friends that you may need to cancel at the last moment.

Living through and with cancer is a time in life to always put yourself and your own needs first.

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