Telling family and friends about a cancer diagnosis can be hard. Although you may feel alone at this time, it is important to remember the cancer also affects them.
They will be worried about you because you are an important part of their life. They may also be concerned about the changes you may have to make to your working life or education, and the financial impact of this.
You may worry about how your family or friends will react. Or you may feel guilty about the effect of the cancer and its treatment on the lives of your family and friends.
We have information about the benefits of talking about cancer.
Taking someone to hospital appointments
You may want to ask someone to go to hospital appointments with you. It can make future conversations easier, as it may give your partner, family member or friend a chance to:
- ask the doctor any questions you or they have
- take notes of important information.
It could also help you feel supported and cared for.
Before you go to an appointment, it can help to prepare any questions you would like answered. If you are feeling shocked or upset, you may struggle to prepare or ask things yourself. This can lead to frustration when trying to tell other people what was said. If someone comes with you, they can help you remember and tell people.
We have more tips for talking with healthcare staff.
Telling people the news
If you have told your family and friends you have been for tests, they might be waiting to hear the results. This may make you feel under pressure. You may feel forced into talking about the cancer before you are ready. If this is the case, it can help to tell your family and friends you need some time for the news to sink in before you are ready to talk about it in detail. If you don’t want to talk, we have more advice in our information about the reasons for talking about cancer.
People usually tell the people closest to them first. It is also important to tell any children you have. Depending on how old they are, you might need to prepare more for this conversation. We have information about talking to children and teenagers when an adult has cancer.
Other family members or friends may say nothing. This could be because they are afraid of saying the wrong thing. You may have to bring the subject up.
Before the conversation, do the following:
- Make a list of who you want to talk to in person
- Take some paper to write down any questions they ask, so you can ask your healthcare team
- Think about how much you want to share the first time you talk with someone. You may want to tell them the type of cancer you have and which treatments you may need. If you don’t feel ready to talk any more at this stage, you can say you need a break and will talk more at a later time
- Try to get the setting right. If you are in a space that you find quiet and comfortable, it can help the conversation.