There’s no doubt that talking about cancer can be difficult. Perhaps you’re reluctant to talk because you don’t know where to start or what to say. If you’re still not sure how you feel about everything, then attempting to talk to your loved ones about it can seem impossible. Or maybe it’s those around you who are reluctant to talk – they may be nervous or awkward around you, or avoid the issue.

But talking about your cancer can help you and your loved ones feel closer to one another. It may also help you cope better with the challenges and uncertainties caused by the cancer. We hope this blog and the information it links to will help you feel more confident about talking to your loved ones about cancer.

After I was diagnosed with cancer, I found it an enormous relief to be able to talk to someone about my feelings

The benefits of talking

Putting things into words helps us make sense of events and leaves us feeling more in control of them. Discussing fears or concerns often helps us understand them better and put them into perspective. 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.

Telling your friends and family

If you don’t know where to start when telling people about your illness, the tips on our page Telling your friends and family may help. Things like choosing the right setting and making sure you won’t be interrupted can make a big difference.

Talking about your situation can help your friends to support you in the future, and may also help you to not feel so alone. The act of talking can also make you feel better as though a ‘weight has been lifted off you’, even if nothing has changed.

How will they react?

You may worry about how your family or friends will react. Will they withdraw from you? Will they blame you?

It can be difficult to deal with other people’s emotions and reactions to your situation. Some people can’t cope with their own emotions and may tend to avoid difficult situations. People can react very differently to the news that you have cancer. Our page Responding to other people has some tips for dealing with different reactions, including avoidance, denial and fear.

Knowing what to say is difficult for everyone who is affected by cancer. But finding the courage to talk could make all the difference to your cancer journey.

Order our free booklet Talking about your cancer now. It contains tips and advice for talking to your loved ones about cancer and can help you understand and deal with other people’s responses:

Image of the booklet Talking about your cancer

We’re with you every step of the way

The Macmillan team is always here to help – if you’d like to talk to someone, please get in touch.  We have a team of experts who can answer any questions you have, offer support, or simply listen if you need a chat. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00.

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Keep in touch Follow Macmillan’s cancer information team on Twitter @mac_cancerinfo