Benefits of talking

Talking about your cancer may feel difficult at times. You may think it’s not worthwhile or you may worry about making someone feel uncomfortable. But talking often benefits both of you. Putting your fears or concerns into words can help you, and others, make sense of difficult situations. It can also bring you closer together.

Talking may also help you:

  • feel more in control
  • feel less anxious
  • make important decisions
  • realise that your feelings are normal
  • stop your fears growing bigger
  • feel valued and supported.

Some people don’t want to share their feelings about cancer or its treatment. Be open with your friends and family about when it’s hard to talk. You may also want to enjoy times when you don’t talk about the cancer. Don’t be afraid to tell people when you would prefer to talk about other things.

How talking can give you support

It can feel so difficult to talk about cancer that you may think, ‘Should I bother?’ or, ’Is it worth talking about what’s going on if it makes my friends feel uncomfortable?’ But talking can help you cope with any uncertainties or difficulties that may lie ahead. It can give you support and help you have some control over your situation.

Putting things into words helps us to make sense of events and leaves us feeling more in control of them. Generally speaking, people take comfort in talking to others. Discussing fears or concerns often helps us to understand them better and put them into perspective. Talking about our feelings can also make us feel less anxious.

For example, you may have unanswered questions and find it difficult to make up your mind about some issues. But by talking the situation through, you may realise that you can find the answer or make a particular decision.

If the person you’re talking to hears your concerns and stays with you, this can also help to reassure you that your feelings are normal. Talking about a fear or worry often stops it from growing bigger in our minds. Often when we’re thinking about something all the time, we worry about it more and more. Once the fear is out in the open and is being discussed, this process often stops.

Finally, talking about something important or personal creates a bond between people and this can make you feel appreciated and supported.

Talking about cancer

Talking about cancer

When Paul was diagnosed with bladder cancer he joined Macmillan's Online Community. He talks about how the Community supported him through this difficult time.

About our cancer information videos

Talking about cancer

When Paul was diagnosed with bladder cancer he joined Macmillan's Online Community. He talks about how the Community supported him through this difficult time.

About our cancer information videos


If you don’t want to talk about your cancer

Some people don’t want to talk about their thoughts or feelings, or about their cancer and its treatment. They’d rather just get on with life, and find that doing normal everyday things and not discussing the cancer is the best way for them to cope.

While you may not want to talk about your cancer, remember that the people you care about may want to. Try to be open and honest with your family and friends and let them know that it’s hard for you to talk and there may be a limit to how much you feel able to share.

You may also want time with your friends when you don’t talk about your cancer, for example if you’re going out somewhere to enjoy yourselves. In this situation don’t be afraid to tell your friends that you’d rather not talk about your cancer today or that you’ll bring up the issue if you want to discuss it.


Back to Who should I talk to?

Groups and organisations

Groups, organisations and healthcare professionals can help you talk about cancer.

Friends and family

There are ways to tell your family and friends about your cancer.

Your partner

Discussing concerns with your partner can help you feel supported. Allow yourselves time and privacy.

Healthcare staff

There are ways to get all the information and support you need from healthcare staff.