How people react when you tell them about the cancer may depend on different things. These include what experience they have of cancer and how well they cope with fear and anxiety.
Some people will be keen to support you. They may even want to talk about things before you are ready. But you may find the news makes other people uncomfortable.
Lack of experience
Many people have no experience of talking to or supporting someone with cancer. They may be unsure of what you need. They may be too embarrassed to ask if they think they should already know. You may have to bring up the subject.
Fear of your reaction
People may worry about how you will react if they start talking about the cancer. They may be scared of upsetting you. They may think they won’t know what to do if you cry or get upset. If you are open and can talk about your situation and feelings, you can tell people what support you need.
Many people know someone who has had cancer. Some people may share stories with you that you find negative or distressing. It is okay to tell them you don’t want to hear those kind of stories right now.
People may not know what to say, but feel that they should know. This may mean they avoid you or simply say very little. This can be hurtful and disappointing.
Other people may only be able to talk about things they think are helpful and positive. If you need to talk about your fears, this may be frustrating.
You may find that other people go into denial. They may cope with the situation by pretending that it is not happening. This can be upsetting when you need their support.
We have information about the feelings you may experience when you are diagnosed with cancer.
Visit healthtalk.org to watch videos of people talking about their cancer experiences and how they coped with other people’s reactions.