What Happens Next – Cancer and Emotions

It is not uncommon to feel a storm of emotions at this time.

Some people feel anger, disbelief, confusion, or perhaps even numbness. Some people say it feels like it is all happening to somebody else. All of these are normal reactions to what is overwhelming news.

Most importantly – take one step at a time.

Focus on getting through the next step and read some of our tips below to start.

Happy young family in the kitchen preparing a meal.

What can I do in the first few weeks to manage my emotions?

The first few weeks can be overwhelming and confusing! Some suggestions that may help:

  1. Take one step at a time. Many people jump way ahead – thinking and worrying about the future and often visualising unpleasant outcomes! Many of these imaginings will never be realised.
  2. Be informed, and get the information you need to help with understanding choices and decision-making. However, be wary of ‘over-reading’ and researching, especially on the internet! Searching the net may uncover irrelevant, confusing and often very misleading information. Choose reputable sites with reliable, useful information.
  3. Ask questions. Your breast care nurse and counsellor are excellent sources of support and information.
  4. Think about what you may need to get through this time. If you have financial or practical concerns, discuss this with a us, a social worker (usually available at your treating hospital), or your GP. In WA, we may be able to provide assistance.
  5. Consider having someone go with you to appointments. Having extra ‘ears’ often helps to avoid confusion and misunderstandings. Many partners, family and friends also say they feel more involved when they attend appointments, so don’t be afraid to ask.
  6. Be kind to yourself. Find ways to relax and ‘take time out’ from everything. Schedule it in.
  7. Give yourself permission to feel sad, upset, angry – whatever you feel! These are understandable and common reactions, but if these feelings are overwhelming, seek help. Talk to someone such as your breast care nurse, your counsellor, your GP, a friend or your partner.


How do I break the news to family and friends?

Sharing your feelings with a close family member or a friend may help you to feel better. We are also available to work through your crisis. We can help you sort out the information you have been given and anything about your diagnosis or your treatment options that you don’t understand. Always remember that you do not need to rush into any decisions about your treatment if you do not fully understand them. Our specialist breast care nurses can help make things clear for you, so that you can make informed decisions about your wellbeing and your family’s too.

There is no magic formula for breaking the news of a breast cancer diagnosis to family, friends or colleagues. For many people, it might not go to plan. Others try to choose a quiet moment, over a coffee or drink. The important thing is that you do tell someone so that they can help you on your journey.

Receiving news that a family or close friend has cancer is devastating. Keep in mind that your diagnosis will affect those closest to you too, and everyone will express it very differently.

Keeping the news from children can sometimes cause more confusion and insecurity. They may need reassurance about how this will affect their basic needs, such as who will take care of them if their mother and or father is away for treatment. Our counsellors can advise you and equip you with tools to make choices about your particular situation.

Need to talk? Ask to speak to one of specialist breast care nurses or counsellors on (08) 9324 3703. If you prefer, you are welcome to email any questions or concerns through to [email protected].