Family and friends of women whose cancer has returned

Get advice on sharing the news that your cancer has returned and what to do if you're worried that other family members may be at risk of ovarian cancer.

Sharing the news

If family or friends are with you when you receive the news of your recurrence, sharing this information may happen naturally. For some women who receive the news when alone, sharing it may feel like an extra burden. There's no right or wrong way to share these details, or what you choose to share. You may want to wait for a few days, weeks or more before you tell others, or you may want to ask someone close to you to let others know on your behalf. 

Reactions of others

You may have found from your initial ovarian cancer diagnosis that people around you can react in very different ways. Some people may be wary of raising the subject with you, while others will want to talk about nothing but your diagnosis.

Don’t be afraid in either case to let people know when you do or don’t want to talk.

You may find that people around you attribute labels such as 'brave' and 'courageous'. They may tell you they could never cope as you have. The reality is we all cope in our own way with what life throws at us.

Be kind to yourself and acknowledge that, initially at least, responses from others will vary but are likely to be well-intended.

Both you and your family and friends may have challenging moments while coming to terms with your news. If you're finding this particularly hard, take a deep breath. We cannot control other people's reactions and emotions. 

It may be that encouraging your family members to speak to your clinical nurse specialist (CNS) would help them to understand your diagnosis and some of their own anxieties. This may help them to better support you. Being able to talk honestly about your different needs will help at this time. 

Concern for family members

Talking to children

You may be afraid of telling your children that your cancer has come back, but it's often better to be honest with them from the beginning. You can try to help young children come to terms with the return of your ovarian cancer through play or books. Older children might have lots more questions and need more time to come to terms with your news. You know your children best, so you can speak to them in a way that they will understand. 

If you or your children are finding this time very difficult, your CNS may be able to put you in touch with a family worker to help support you all. 

Genetic testing and hereditary ovarian cancer

It's a common reaction to worry that your daughter, granddaughter or sister could be at risk of developing ovarian cancer. If you're worried about this and particularly if you have other women in your family affected by breast or ovarian cancer, it's a good idea to speak to your GP, oncologist or CNS about genetic testing. You can also read our information on family history and ovarian cancer.


Last reviewed: May 2017

To learn more about our review process, take a look at our information standards.