Leukaemia Foundation

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Telling Others

Decisions about when and how to tell other people about your diagnosis are entirely up to you.

Some people prefer initially to deal with the diagnosis alone. They may wish to work out how they are feeling first before sharing their feelings or having to deal with the emotions of others, even those closest to them. They may not wish to burden people they love, or they may not believe they are strong enough to cope with the news.

It is natural to want to protect the people we love, and it's often difficult to even begin to think about how to tell them about the diagnosis. In the long run however, it is usually better to be as honest and straightforward as you can.

Even if you don't tell them, or withhold the truth, they are likely to suspect that something is wrong and worry anyway. When they do find out, they may feel hurt that you did not feel you could trust or rely on them earlier.

Keeping a diagnosis of cancer a secret for a long time is exhausting and in most cases impossible, and people usually feel a sense of relief in being able to confide in someone they trust.

When you feel ready to tell someone about your diagnosis, it is a good idea to first choose someone you feel you can trust. This could be someone you also appoint to tell other members of your family and other people who might need to know about your situation.

There will be times when you feel you really need to speak to someone and other times when you don't want to speak to anyone. This is normal. It's good to let people around you know how you are feeling. They can be of more help if they understand when you need to talk or spend some time alone.

You could think about using voicemail to screen your calls when you need more privacy. This will give you more control over whom you speak to, and when.

Telling Children

It is not easy to tell a child about a diagnosis of cancer. The amount of information that can be given often varies with the child’s age and level of development.

Read More about: Telling Children