The others in your life
It can be difficult to tell people you have advanced cancer. There is no easy way to share the diagnosis, but you may find it helps to practise what you are going to say.
How your family and friends react to your diagnosis will vary, and they may not react in the way you expect them to. They may need time to adjust to your diagnosis. They may also have similar fears and anxieties, and need as much information and advice, as you.
Sometimes family members may feel more distressed than the person with cancer. This seems to be more common when there is a lack of communication between the person diagnosed with cancer and the people close to them.
You can guide your friends and family on how much you want to talk about the illness and the different issues you want to think about or plan together. Although you may want to protect the people you care about, sharing the news can often bring you closer.
The effect on people close to you
You may sometimes feel that the hardest part about having advanced cancer is the effect it will have on your family and friends.
Learn more about:
- The effect on partners
- Changes in sexuality and intimacy
- Ways to manage other people’s reactions
- How to tell children
- The effect on friends
- When you don’t want to talk
Family and friends as carers
The people mentioned in this section may also care for you. They may not see themselves as a carer, rather that they are simply helping out as a natural part of their relationship with you. Some people willingly accept the extra responsibilities; others may feel pressured out of a sense of duty. Caring for a person with advanced cancer can be challenging. The demands on your carers may increase as the cancer advances, and they will need support with emotional, practical and physical concerns.
For more on this, see our Caring for someone with cancer.
Download a PDF booklet on this topic.
Prof Nicholas Glasgow, Head, Calvary Palliative and End of Life Care Research Institute, ACT; Kathryn Bennett, Nurse Practitioner, Eastern Palliative Care Association Inc., VIC; Dr Maria Ftanou, Head, Clinical Psychology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, and Research Fellow, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, VIC; Erin Ireland, Legal Counsel, Cancer Council NSW; Nikki Johnston, Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner, Clare Holland House, Calvary Public Hospital Bruce, ACT; Judy Margolis, Consumer; Linda Nolte, Program Director, Advance Care Planning Australia; Kate Reed- Cox, Nurse Practitioner, National Clinical Advisor, Palliative Care Australia; Helena Rodi, Project Manager, Advance Care Planning Australia; Kaitlyn Thorne, Coordinator Cancer Support, 13 11 20, Cancer Council Queensland.
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