Andy Jackson
Posted by

Talking to friends and family about blood cancer

Andy Jackson
Posted by
28 Oct 2015

Breaking the news to friends and family that you have blood cancer at a time when you haven't got your own head around everything can be very difficult for patients. Who do you tell? When? And what do you tell them?

Ultimately there is no right time or way to tell loved ones that you have blood cancer. The important thing is that you talk to someone about your diagnosis. Read on to find out how others decided to break the news:

1. Tell everyone as soon as possible

Ceri Lamb decided getting out there as soon as possible and telling everyone was the best policy. Whilst difficult at first she found telling people actually helped her to understand and come to terms with her diagnosis.

Ceri wrote:

2. Share the load

Others like Michelle Sterling decided that the best way to tell everyone was to share the breaking of the news with a friend or family member that they could trust.

Michelle wrote:

Another patient, David Hollingsworth, had similar advice suggesting that you tell someone you feel comfortable with first who can then support you as you break the news to others. He also recommended doing a bit of research into your prognosis and treatment options before telling everyone to arm yourself with the necessary information to potentially allay some of their understandable concerns.

David wrote: 

3. Take your time

Many patients preferred to delay telling friends and family waiting until they'd had a chance to process their diagnosis. For Maria Anna Gilmour this involved waiting until she had enough information to understand what she was going through herself and then giving a simple explanation to those around her.

Maria wrote:

Myeloma patient Debbie Brooks took a similar approach preferring to keep it from her family until all her results were in and she knew herself exactly what she was dealing with.

Debbie wrote: 

4. Total honesty and openness

Many believed that being totally open and honest with friends and family and looking to get them involved was the best solution. Caroline Anne Parker wrote:

Nicola Wilson was also convinced in no uncertain terms that honesty and openness was the best way stating that when there is no 'elephant in the room' everyone is freed to ask questions, share their feelings and come to terms with what's going on.

5. Get your partner to do it

For many the prospect of having to break the news to friends and family themselves was too much and they opted instead to get help from their partner. Nick Marks wrote:

In Melissa Bennett Garner's case it was her husband who broke the news beyond the immediate family taking a huge load off her mind.

Melissa wrote:

6. Share the news online

Some patients like Dave Danchuk decided to tell those closest to him personally and then take to Facebook to share the news with his wider group of friends.

Dave wrote:

Hodgkin lymphoma patient Louise Smith's husband did something similar sending out a group email to keep friends and family updated throughout her treatment.

Louise wrote:

7. Make use of the resources available to you

Understandably many patients find being able to explain their blood cancer difficult when they're first diagnosed and still getting their head around what it all means themselves. That's where the information booklets and online resources provided by consultants can prove useful.

Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia patient Keith Boynton wrote:

If you're looking for information and booklets about blood cancer our Patient Information is an excellent starting point.

8. Tell your children but keep it simple! 

Explaining blood cancer to a little one is an uneviable task but something that most patients were in total agreement had to be done in as delicate way as possible. The key, it appears, is to keep it simple without being belittling. Kylee Stone wrote:

Steve Mitchell also had some really great advice when talking about how he explained his diagnosis with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia to his family urging people to avoid using the C word but not to treat them lightly.

Steve wrote:


A huge thank you to everyone that provided tips and advice for this blog. You can read all the comments in full on the original Have Your Say post on Facebook.

If you've recently been diagnosed with blood cancer we have lots of practical information and advice available in our downloadable newly diagnosed information booklet.

You can also download and order specific information about blood cancer including Wiggly's World which is an excellent resource for explaining blood cancer to children here:

Make a donation

I would like to give...