Family and friends of women with a new diagnosis

Find out what support is available to help you tell your family and friends about your diagnosis and what to do if you're feeling lonely.

A diagnosis of cancer can change how you feel about yourself and it can have an impact on your relationships. Some people might find that it brings them closer to the people around them, while others might find their relationships are more strained.

Your friends and family may find your diagnosis particularly hard to deal with. Some people appear to be surrounded by family and friends but still feel lonely, while others have one close friend and feel well supported and cared for.

Relationships with partners may also be affected, and these changes might be both positive and negative. You might find that your relationship is strengthened as you and your partner come to terms with your diagnosis together, or your partner may not know what to say and may be feeling many of the emotions you are.

Your family and friends may benefit from getting support to cope with your diagnosis, and you may feel better to know they are supported. Target Ovarian Cancer and your clinical nurse specialist (CNS) can provide support for family, friends and carers, so ask them to get in touch

You may also be worried that your sister, daughter or granddaughter may be at risk of ovarian cancer. Find out more in our information about ovarian cancer in families.

Telling people about your diagnosis

Who you tell about your diagnosis, and when, is up to you. If you need to take a few hours, a few days or more to think about this, that's totally reasonable. Taking your time to prepare and telling others when you feel strong enough to cope with their reaction will help you.

Some people might react more emotionally than you're expecting. This may be because your diagnosis makes cancer a reality for them, rather than something that happens to other people. Others might cry or go very quiet, and some of your friends may drop off the radar for a while because they find your news frightening.

Hopefully many friends and family members will be supportive and help you get through this difficult time. Your CNS and Target Ovarian Cancer can offer support to your family and friends too, so you may want to encourage them to contact our support line.

Telling children

Talking to your children or grandchildren about a cancer diagnosis is not easy, whatever their age.

Young children will understand the practical side of things: you have an illness and the doctors are looking after you. You might feel a little bit tired and sad or grumpy, but everyone is doing their best to get you better. The questions they ask can give clues to what is worrying them.

Teenagers may ask for more information and need a little more time to work through their feelings and think about the questions they want to ask.

Take things one step at a time.


This information is reviewed regularly and is in line with accepted national and international guidelines. All of our publications undergo an expert peer review and are reviewed by women with ovarian cancer to ensure that we provide accurate and high-quality information. To find out more take a look at our information standards.