In the days that followed, I took a lot of time to think about and process the news I had just received, did some of my own research and reading online, and selectively told some of my closest friends about the situation. I am incredibly lucky to have an amazing network of family and friends, who all provided words of support and encouragement and offered to help in anyway they could. One of my friends told me about her cousin, who, when he was in his early 30s, had been diagnosed with a very rare type of cancer. He chose to start a blog about his own journey through the treatment and recovery process; and this story was also part of the impetus for the creation of this blog.
As I reflect on the past two weeks and the process of sharing this big news with family and friends, I can't help but comparing it to the process I went through over a decade ago when I came out of the closet as a gay man. While I think more people were surprised to hear this more recent news about the upcoming surgery, I found myself going through a similar set of steps:
- Come out to yourself. Deal with the anger, confusion, and questions along the way; but accept and embrace the reality for yourself first.
- Share the news with close family and friends. Tell the people closest to you. Get their acceptance, support, and feedback. Then determine how to move forward together.
- Live openly. While it's not necessary to plaster the news on a billboard or to work the news into every introduction you have with people, just go about living your life day to day. If the topic comes up, discuss it. If it doesn't, don't worry about.