Telling clients about the cancer

You do not have to disclose the cancer to your clients. Your instinct might be to hide the news of your diagnosis, but if you want to talk about it, you should decide who to tell, what to say and how your business will continue to meet ongoing commitments. Some people choose to tell only established clients.


Talking to your clients

  • Be direct and talk about what you know. For example, confirm your working hours and advise the best way to contact you (e.g. during treatment you may suggest clients email you to set up a time to talk).
  • Communicate your abilities and emphasise your strengths with statements such as, “My hours may change, but the project will be under control and completed on time.”
  • Try to maintain a professional relationship with your client. You may not want to share your fears and insecurities.
  • Think about alternative or flexible ways of working that could suit both your needs.
  • If you have physical side effects such as hair loss, you may want to postpone meetings in person. Use technology, such as email or conference calling, to stay in touch. If you have told the client about the cancer, you may feel comfortable with a face-to-face meeting.
  • Be prepared for a range of reactions if you tell a client about your health. Some people will be compassionate; others may be more aloof. Some clients may choose to work with someone else.
  • Consider subcontracting some work or referring clients to someone else if you can’t meet their needs.

This information was last reviewed in January 2017
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