Telling family and friends of your diagnosis can be one of the hardest parts of dealing with breast cancer.  

You may be feeling scared, confused and uncertain. It may be difficult for you to tell those you love about your diagnosis and to deal with their emotions as well. If you’re finding it hard to tell others of your diagnosis, you may prefer to ask a close family member or friend to talk to people for you.

Friends and family may need time to absorb and process this challenging information. They may not know what to say or do, but with time and understanding will find the strength to support you.

Your friends and family can help you to fight breast cancer. So rely on them, talk to them, and let them help you in any way they can.

Telling your children

If you have children, how much you tell them will depend on how old they are. Give them age-appropriate information and make sure you are honest with them. You don’t burden them with too many details, but you should make sure they understand what is happening and what it will mean for them. 

Don't try to keep crucial information from your children. Frequently they will know that something is being kept from them and they will imagine the worst.

Make sure you let them know what will be happening for them while you are receiving treatment and who will be looking after them.
This will be a difficult time for children and they will react in different ways. Seek help for them from a counsellor if you think they need it.

Check out our page on children for more information on supporting children and teenagers.

There’s lots of helpful information on talking to children in the New Zealand Cancer Society’s booklet Cancer in the family: Talking to your children.

Telling your employer

It can be unsettling telling your employer that you have breast cancer and that you will need time off for treatment. You may wonder how your employer will react, what it will mean for your future job security, and how you will feel about returning to work when the time comes.

Most employers are understanding and will give you leave without pay for treatment, if you do not have extensive sick leave. If you are self-employed it may be more difficult for you take time out for treatment. 

Try not to stress about work issues at this time. You need to focus on your health and wellbeing so that you can get better as quickly as possible. 

If your cancer treatment means you face financial hardship, contact Work and Income New Zealand to see what assistance they can provide. They offer financial assistance through a variety of allowances including a Supported Living Payment

If you are struggling financially, the New Zealand Cancer Society provides grants to assist individuals and families. These grants cover things such as transport costs, household expenses, special equipment, counselling services etc. Find out more.