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Courtney Allan

How to tell someone you have cancer and how to respond properly as a loved one

How to tell someone you have cancer and how to respond properly as a loved one

Finding out you have cancer can be devastating. After figuring out what treatments you’re going to undertake, the next daunting step is telling your family.

ABC presenter Jill Emberson released a podcast about her experience of living with terminal ovarian cancer.

It’s in this podcast that she goes into detail about letting the people in her life know about her diagnosis.

"I remember the phone calls I had to make to my family. They're really hard to remember making," she says.

"My mother — I could hardly bear having that conversation with her."

Speaking to ABC Life, Brenda Clasquin, a support consultant for The Cancer Council says that these conversations are known for being tough. She also says that we shouldn’t feel guilty for not knowing the right thing to say.

How to tell your family

"A diagnosis like this comes with a huge shock, and people need the opportunity to absorb that shock themselves before they tell everybody else," she says.

Clasquin also says it can be helpful to write pointers, just so you say everything you feel like you need to say.

"Write down some pointers of what you want to say, and what you want to avoid saying," She says.

How to tell your children

Telling your children is the next difficult step. Clasquin says even young children will sense something is wrong, despite what they’ve been told.

"You do need to prepare to tell your children this news, but they shouldn't be the last to know," she says.

"Make sure they feel part of the family and not excluded from what is a really big event."

How to receive this news

It can be hard enough working up the courage to tell people about your diagnosis. But what about the person who’s receiving the news?

Clasquin acknowledges that although receiving the news can be hard to hear, it’s not the role of the person whose diagnosed with cancer to support their family and friends.

"Hold yourself if possible and give yourself time to process what you've been told before you respond," she says.

Do you have any tips? Let us know in the comments.