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Telling friends and family

Telling people that you have bladder cancer may not be easy for you. This page shares tips for sharing the news with adults and children.

Whether you have just been diagnosed and need to share the news with those closest to you or you have been living with the diagnosis for a while and see new people, it can feel like a daunting prospect. You may feel concerned about upsetting your family and friends and worried about how they might react.

It is natural to feel this way. You are not alone. 

Telling people how you are feeling

Even after you have shared the news, you may find that at times it is difficult to communicate openly.

Sometimes it’s uncomfortable to ask for help, answer questions about how you’re doing, or tell relatives and friends that you need time and space to yourself.

Here are a few tips to help break down that communication barrier with those closest to you. Remember that you are the one who guides the conversation and decides how much information to share.

  • Target the content and tone to the person you are speaking to; you may not want to tell everyone everything.
  • Involve those closest to you in medical appointments when possible; they will gain a first-hand understanding of your diagnosis and treatment options and be better prepared to understand how you're feeling.
  • Be clear about what you need; don't assume other people know what you most need at any given time if you don’t tell them.
  • Delegate when you can't face doing things and pick them up again when you can; be prepared to change your mind as you will not feel the same way all the time.
  • Try to remember that your partner and family are worried about you but they have their own cares and concerns too.
  • Accept that different people have different ways of coping.
  • Be sensitive to possible changes in your sexual relationship with your partner — talk about it honestly and openly.

Always try to use direct, simple language when telling people you have cancer. 

Talking to children

Here a few tips on targeting how you speak with children about your cancer:

  • plan the conversation in advance so that you know what you're going to say
  • choose a time which feels right for you both
  • use direct, simple language and don't go into too much detail at the beginning
  • you will be able to go into more detail with an older child but younger children will just need basic honesty within their understanding
  • use the word ‘cancer’ where you can
  • you might explain where the cancer is and that you will be taking some strong medicines
  • make absolutely sure they know that it is not their fault in any way
  • let their teachers or carers know what is going on
  • make sure children keep up with their school and social activities
  • older children may be embarrassed or angry — try not to let them see if their reactions upset you and allow them to cope in their own way
  • ask for help from professionals in your team if you need it
  • anticipate questions about the future — try to be honest.

If your child becomes upset or doesn't seem to understand, consider revisiting the conversation another day.

Encouraging questions is important as it helps the child to feel listened to and accepted that they can vocalise what they are thinking. If they feel they can't talk to you as they might upset you, then tell them it's okay to speak to another member of family whenever they are worried.

Telling people about a terminal diagnosis

If you have received the difficult news that your cancer is no longer treatable, here are some tips about how to tell people as part of our information about a terminal diagnosis.  

Support for you and your loved ones

Please remember that you can contact us at any time for support, whether you are a patient or care for someone who is. 

Our helpline is open from 0900-1630, Monday to Friday. There's an answerphone if we're busy, but we will call you back as soon as we can. Call 01844 351 621 or email

Talking to other people who have had the same tests, investigations and diagnosis can help. Our private online forum on Facebook is available 24/7, 365 days a year. Find out how to join and other ways you can talk to patients and carers via our getting support page. 

More information

You can download a copy of our relevant Patient Information Booklet below. If you would like a free copy of any other booklets sent to you by post or email, add your details to our booklets order form and we’ll get them to you.

Get in touch

We’ve tried to make the information on this site as accurate as possible. Whilst we have support from medical professionals to review the general medical content of this site, please remember that only your medical team can give you specific advice about your symptoms or illness. Fight Bladder Cancer is a registered Charitable Incorporated Organisation in Scotland (SC051881), England and Wales (1198773), and was initially established as an unincorporated charity in England and Wales (1157763). It also operates in Northern Ireland.