Why is it so hard for me to tell others I have cancer?

There are many reasons why it can be difficult to tell others that you are a cancer survivor. You may have your own personal reasons for not wanting to tell others. You may not want to tell others because you are worried about how they will react.

Common reasons survivors may not want to tell others include:
  • Feeling embarrassed talking about cancers of certain body parts, such as breast, anal, or prostate cancers
  • Not wanting to tell the whole story or answer a lot of questions
  • Feeling like the cancer experience is still too new, painful, or upsetting
  • Wanting the cancer experience to remain personal and private—only sharing it with a few people
Some cancer survivors also worry about the reactions they may get from others, such as:
  • Pity or feeling sorry for the survivor
  • Opinions about the cause of cancer
  • Shared stories about how people they knew did not survive
  • Advice about how you should feel or cope with cancer
  • Suggestions about the best or worst treatment methods
  • Inability to discuss -- they might just walk away.

Learning that you have cancer is hard enough; sharing the news with others can be nearly as difficult. In this video, palliative medicine specialist Dr. Stewart Fleishman explains why it can be tough to tell others about a cancer diagnosis.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.