Who to talk to

Talking to your relatives and friends or someone else about your cancer can help you to cope.

Why you might need to talk

Some families find it hard to talk to one another about cancer. They 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.

Your family might not talk about the cancer or may change the subject if you bring it up. This can make you worry even more as well as strain your relationships.

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.

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.

Photograph of couple talking

Who you can talk to

You can phone the Cancer Research UK nurses if you would like to talk to someone outside your own friends and family. 

Talk to the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Last reviewed: 
20 Sep 2019
  • Cancer and its management (7th edition)
    J Tobias and A Hochhauser
    Wiley Blackwell, 2015

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