Telling family and friends

The more openly you talk about your cancer, the easier it may be for the people around you to respond to your needs.

Although it may be difficult at first to express how you're feeling, bottling up your emotions can create an atmosphere of uncertainty. Some people will find it difficult to know what to say or how to say it.

You may only want to tell a few people only, or to ask everyone not to treat you any differently.

You can listen to some personal experiences of talking with friends and family about breast cancer here:

Some women who have had a diagnosis of breast cancer reflect on how they told their families and friends the news of their diagnosis, and some things they did to help make this news easier.

Be prepared for others’ reactions

Some people may find your diagnosis difficult to deal with and go out of their way to avoid talking to you. This can be hurtful, especially if it is someone you thought you could count on. People may also say insensitive or inappropriate things - especially if they feel awkward.

Who you tell and how you tell them is up to you. The basic facts about the diagnosis and treatment options are probably a good place to begin, and it may lead quite naturally to how you are feeling.

Talking it through

Talking about your cancer is part of the process of adjusting to what has happened, so that you can start to think beyond the diagnosis and consider ways of moving forward.


If you have younger children, deciding what to tell them about your breast cancer may be one of the most difficult things you have to face, but it’s probably best to be open, as children can worry even more if they think things are being hidden from them. You, as the parent, will know your child better than anyone else and will know how much detail to give them and when to give it.

Read our tips on talking with children about breast cancer.

Last reviewed: October 2014
Next planned review begins 2017

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Please note that we cannot respond to comments. If you have any questions about breast cancer please contact the Helpline on 0808 800 6000.