Telling People

Most women say that telling others they have cancer is one of the hardest parts of the journey. Who you tell, when you tell them, how and what to say is likely to be different, depending on who you are talking to.

There is a great deal of helpful advice on the internet, in books and leaflets on the topic of telling people you have cancer. We suggest that you look at some of this information to help you work out what is right for your circumstances.  Please choose your information from credible sources.

Sharing your cancer diagnosis with others can be very emotionally draining. Remember your energy is precious and you need to save it for yourself as you deal with your own emotions, spirituality and how you are physically tolerating surgery or cancer treatments.

General Advice on Telling People:

  • Think ahead of time what it is you want to tell, make a list if that helps.
  • Leave yourself plenty of time and a place that is comfortable, where you won’t be disturbed or distracted. Tell as much, or as little, as you feel okay with sharing with others. There isn’t a right or wrong way to talk about cancer.
  • You can designate someone you trust to share the news with people outside your immediate family if you find the process too emotionally draining. This person can answer all calls of support or offers for help.
  • You don’t have to tell everyone outside your immediate family or support network if you don’t want to share about your diagnosis.
  • Give yourself quiet time after these communications to regroup and take a break from the emotion.
  • You can use different ways of communicating, like a letter or an email, to share with others too.

The Canadian Cancer Society has different pages on talking about cancer, including telling family, your employer, colleagues, and children.