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Talking About Cancer

Telling people about your diagnosis is a very personal decision. Some people with cancer choose to tell only close family. Others find it helps to let more people know about their diagnosis. Take some time to consider what and how much you would like to share about your diagnosis and how you want to share this information. By letting friends and family know about your diagnosis, you give them the chance to offer their support.

Here are some tips and things to keep in mind when telling someone about your diagnosis:

  • Practice what you want to say once you decide to tell about your diagnosis.
  • Anticipate questions and plan your answers.
  • Be honest. For example, if you are still struggling with fatigue, let the person know so he or she can better understand your situation.
  • Be prepared for different reactions.
    • You may be asked a lot of questions. If you do not feel like answering, you can say so.
    • The person may bring up a relative or friend with a diagnosis.
    • The person may feel uncomfortable. If the person has never dealt with a cancer diagnosis with a friend or family member, he or she may not know how to react.
  • Think carefully about whether or not you plan to post about your diagnosis on social media. Remember that social media may not be as private as you think, and anything you post on social media may still be accessible even after you finish treatment.

You may receive a lot of well-meaning but unsolicited advice about your diet, treatment plan, or lifestyle choices. Take all of this information with a grain of salt. Some advice may not apply to your situation, and some advice may be incorrect or even unintentionally harmful. Talk to your healthcare team about any questions you have.


Social Media

Many people share their lives on social media. Before you share your cancer diagnosis online, stop to think it over. Would it upset you if an employer, date or casual acquaintance learned about your diagnosis from a web search? If you do decide to share your diagnosis online, consider these tips:

  • Be prepared for many messages and phone calls when you post.
  • Check your social media privacy settings if you do not wish for the information to be visible to the general public. Remember that anything shared online may be less private than you think.
  • Consider using a website to create a personal health journal and to share updates with only a select number of people instead of your entire social network.

If you decide to keep your diagnosis private, let your family and friends know your preference and ask them not to post on social media about your diagnosis.


Connecting with Other Young Adults

Feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety are common among young adult (YA) cancer patients. It is helpful to connect with others who understand what you are going through. You can also learn more about what to expect from treatment from someone who has been through it. You can connect with other YAs through support groups, online chats, and retreats.


 The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society offers:

  • Support groups to provide mutual support and offer the opportunity to discuss anxieties and concerns with others who share the same experiences.
  • A weekly online chat for YAs ages 18-39. 
  • Patti Robinson Kaufmann First Connection Program, a peer-to-peer program that matches patients and their loved ones with trained peer volunteers who have shared similar experiences.
  • Patient Community, an online network where you can chat with other patients and caregivers, stay current on the latest diagnosis and treatment news, and get personalized support from trained LLS staff. 

Other organizations with programs for YAs with a cancer diagnosis:

View more Young Adult resources on our Other Helpful Organizations page.  

If your feelings of depression or anxiety interfere with your daily life, talk to your healthcare team. You may benefit from seeing a mental health professional.

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