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Who to talk to

Coping with cancer

This page tells you who you can talk to when you have cancer. There is information about

 

Why you might need to talk

Some families find it hard to talk to one another about cancer. Your friends and relatives might be able to support you and talk to you about your cancer very well. But some families may be frightened about the emotions this could bring up. Or your friends and relatives may not want to talk to you about your cancer because they worry that you won't be able to cope with talking about your situation. They may not want to upset you.

If your family don't talk about the cancer or change the subject if you bring it up, you may find that this makes you worry even more. It can also make you all feel awkward and strain your relationships. It can cause mistrust in your family and may make it more difficult for you to talk about the future. But it is important to know that even if your family aren't talking about your illness, they are probably constantly thinking about it and wanting to find ways to help.

You can help them by letting them know that you would like to talk about what is happening and how you feel. There is information about the feelings you may have in this section.

 

If you are a friend or relative

Relatives and friends can help by

  • Listening carefully to everything the person with cancer says
  • Not rushing into talking about the illness

Sometimes it is enough just to listen, letting the patient talk when they are ready. Take your cues from the person. If they get upset, that is OK. It can be a relief for them to be able to cry and say if they are finding things difficult.

It may be helpful to look at the reading list for family and friends.

 

Who you can talk to

If you would like to talk to someone outside your own friends and family, you can phone the Cancer research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. Or you can look at our list of general cancer organisations to find people who can help or put you in touch with a cancer support group

You can also look at our page of counselling organisations. To find out about counselling look in the counselling section.

In this section you can find information about talking to children and about how counselling can help you talk about cancer.

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Question about cancer? Contact our information nurse team

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Updated: 9 November 2012