Should I say something and how should I say it?

Nurses General Nursing


In-law recently died at age 40 of colon cancer. I am pretty sure there is a strong genetic link to colon cancer deaths in this age group. This person has 7 brothers and sisters. One sibling is nurse and one is pharmacist. I can't help wondering if anyone has warned them they need to be checked. I was thinking of saying something to spouse of deceased, especially about their children. Most likely they already have been warned by doctor on case but you never know.


772 Posts

Sorry to hear of your loss. I've been in nursing for 22 years and I never get used to it. I definatly think you should express your concern to a family member. Choose one that you feel you have a good rapport with and who would be receptive. Bide your time though, maybe a few weeks. How about finding an article on the subject, make a copy and keep it with you so perhaps the oppertune time will present and you can give it to read and maybe answer some questions. If that oppertunity doesn't occur perhaps you could send it later in a "Thinking of You" card. good luck and God bless your family


6,011 Posts


What a sad thing to have happen and at such a young age. Even though we as nurses "know" something, we sometimes think that we are exempt from this happening to *us*.

I. rae, excellent advice.


1 Article; 5,758 Posts

Can't help it PRN, when I see that "Super Monitor" title I think of someone in blue tights with a red cape and big S on their chest. :)


4,516 Posts

"Super Moderator" to the Rescue! LOL! (You ARE super too, and we appreciate ya!) :)

I lost my Dad to colon cancer so all us kids get colonoscopies every 3 years...there is indeed a strong genetic link. My younger sister has already had polyps turning suspicious, she is in her 30's....scary.:(

I think it will be kind to pass this info on to your inlaws gently in the months to come ....after their grief has eased up a bit. You might think about telling the spouses...and let them come to you for more info if they wish. Good luck, inlaw stuff is touchy. ;)


317 Posts

So sorry for your loss. How sad and scary to lose a family member that is so young.

How could you not say something? I couldn't but no one in my family listens anyway. I would just ask the family members if anyone has mentioned the genetic link or perhaps send them an article that relates. You can only do so much. They will take it or leave it (your advice). If you know something and don't say anything and something bad happened because you didn't share your knowledge..... well, I don't know about you but I'd have a tougher time with that one than I would if they just didn't listen. Hugs to you.

Specializes in Med/Surg, ER, L&D, ICU, OR, Educator.

Yes, I think I would say something, but wait just a bit... when it's not too fresh for everyone. (As someone suggested above, you might mention it to a spouce, as they may lovingly nag them into following through.)

Sorry for your loss.


1 Article; 5,758 Posts

I must confess there is a reason I am a little shy on this matter. Twenty years ago I blundered by telling my mom she needed close following for breast cancer. This was shortly after her mom had died of breast cancer and she did not take kindly to it. She was really beligerant about it and I waited a long time before I brought it up again. I think she would have been much more open to a non family member healthcare worker bringing it up. She even accused me of wishing it on her. Ouch, that hurt.


4,516 Posts

Family can be so cruel to one another sometimes and know just how to cut your heart out, don't they? Then sometimes they do the opposite of what the family nurse suggests, just to spite ya.....LOL! Sometimes you just can't win with your everlovin' family...hehe. :)

I wish I could cash in on all the 'free' medical advice I've given out over the past 25 years...don't ya'll??


190 Posts

oramar, This is a very sensitive matter. I have had the experience of being offended by well meaning relatives so hope I can comment here. Both my parents died from CA and my husbands family has history of bowel CA.Throughout my life physicians have been very open in discussing risk factors with me so even before I became a nurse I was aware of increased risks. Not sure I would welcome discussions from friends and relatives regarding my children's risks. If relatives approached me by asking if I or my children are at any increased risk, then I could tell them what I know and I would not feel offended. I think what bothered me about relative's advice was their assumption that I had not discussed this with my doctor. Hope this helps.


1 Article; 5,758 Posts

disher, I would say you got a good handle on the sensitivity of the situation. You personal experince is the reason you have such a good understanding. One of the reasons I resent uninvited health advice from relatives is that they so often get their facts wrong. I figure I can wait for information to leak to me about what kind of advice they have already recieved from medical professional.

nightingale, RN

2,404 Posts

Oramer: I am sorry to hear about your loss. (((hugs)))

I too struggle with telling family members information that is life saving. But you and I know we have to do this. How could we not? YOu will find a way to get them the information. It does not have to be directly from you to be what they need. YOU will think of something.

God be with you.


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