Blogs > Silence broken: The power of sharing a breast cancer diagnosis

Silence broken: The power of sharing a breast cancer diagnosis

Kimberley Robinson reveals how open communication becomes a source of strength, transformation, and family unity.

Kimberley Robinson holds a "thankful" pillow

The last time I spoke to my mom, she was reminding me to start my Christmas shopping for my kids. She said, "We can go tomorrow," but tomorrow never came. My mom suddenly passed away the next day at the age of fifty-five, having never revealed her illness to anyone in the family. Living with my younger brother and single, my mom always used to say she never wanted to be a burden to anyone.

My mother’s doctor told us she passed from heart disease, a condition she had kept secret for quite some time. At that time, I was not only full of grief, sadness, and a broken heart, but I was also angry and mad that she never revealed her health information to the family. If I had known about her illness, I would have taken on the responsibility of her health care, spoken with her doctor, and involved other family members eager to help with her specific needs.

The dynamics of our mother-daughter relationship could have evolved, quietly growing closer. I understand she might have initially resisted and pulled away, but I believe I could have convinced her it was for her best and those who loved her. But, there were no second chances.

Since then, I made a promise to myself that I would never withhold any health information from my three children, no matter how hard or tough the news may be for them.

Fast forward to May 2023, life was good. Settling into a new chapter with grown kids, enjoying the laughter of grandkids, and relishing a beautiful relationship with my significant other. Then came another voice I will never forget. I was alone in my car, getting ready to go grocery shopping, and my phone rang; this time, it was the radiologist. He had the results from my mammogram. He said, “Ms. Robinson, you have breast cancer.” Instantly, tears rolled down my face like a waterfall, and after that, I heard nothing. Everything went black. I don’t remember hearing any other words from him; I just hung up the phone.

“Noooo! What is happening now?” I started crying, screaming, uncontrollably shaking in my car—all alone. People walking by were looking at me, but I didn’t care. My only thoughts were, “It’s not fair; I get tested every year!” Shortly after, my doctor called, apologizing for not having the opportunity to talk to me first. She tried to calm me down, but I could not stop crying. She said she would schedule an appointment for the next steps.

Right afterward, I called my sisters and my partner to share the bad news. I was still crying and screaming on the phone about my bad news. They tried to calm me down, wanting to send a driver to come and pick me up, but I told them no; I would just sit in my car for a while alone. That day I never did my grocery shopping. I eventually drove myself home.

Kimberley Robinson's two daughters enjoy sitting and eating in a bistro
Kimberley Robinson receives a chemo infusion
Kimberley Robinson and her son at an eatery

My family is so very important to me, and now it was my voice sharing with them. I decided to round up my children on a call to deliver the bad news—Mom has breast cancer. So I did. However, this time, the voices I heard were, “Are you kidding me?” followed by a big sigh and an eerie silence. I knew they were all devastated, but I promised them I would keep them informed every step of the way of my breast cancer journey.

I was diagnosed with stage II ductal carcinoma in situ, estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer, and I have decided to have a double mastectomy to reduce the risk of recurrence because I also suffer from anxiety and depression. Currently, I am in the first phase of chemotherapy, which is very overwhelming. The second phase will start in March 2024. Fortunately, no radiation is required, but 16 rounds of chemotherapy in two phases and a year of immunotherapy are on the horizon.

During this process, I discovered that one of my younger sisters had breast cancer in her 30s (now 57) and chose not to share her news with the family, just like my mom. She had radiation and is now living a cancer-free life.

Despite it all, I feel so much closer to my family than ever, and I don’t feel ashamed or guilty for my illness. I feel free to talk about my breast cancer journey and the experiences I am going through. My family and significant other have been unwavering in their support from the beginning. One sister even took a leave of absence, traveled, and stayed with me to assist my significant other in my care. Together, they provided love, proper nutrition, medication management, and physical care. Other family members helped, too, accompanying me to appointments, running errands, and offering the love and support I needed through the pain and suffering. Their seamless presence allowed me to focus on the one thing that mattered: “Recovery.” Not once did they ever make me feel like a burden. I only wish I had the chance to comfort my mom the same way during her illness.

The best lesson I’ve learned is when you share your health information with your family and people that love you—you will find joy, comfort, support, and the dynamic of the family shining. For me, I would not have it any other way—silence is not always golden.

Kimberley Robinson lays flowers on her mother's gravestone


The views and opinions of our bloggers represent the views and opinions of the bloggers alone and not those of Living Beyond Breast Cancer. Also understand that Living Beyond Breast Cancer does not medically review any information or content contained on, or distributed through, its blog and therefore does not endorse the accuracy or reliability of any such information or content. Through our blog, we merely seek to give individuals creative freedom to tell their stories. It is not a substitute for professional counseling or medical advice.



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