Penile cancer

Telling other people

Penile cancer

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You may need to tell family, friends, and other people, that you have cancer. Only you can decide who you want to tell, and when you want to tell them.

Talking about your cancer can be difficult and uncomfortable, but a little preparation can help.

Telling family and friends

If you are having trouble deciding how to share the news, preparation can help. You could do this by deciding how much information you want to share about your diagnosis. Some examples of things you might want to tell are:

  • what type of cancer you have
  • what treatment you might need
  • what your prognosis is.

It may be difficult, but people often find that telling their loved ones they have cancer is a relief. It can also help the reality of the situation to sink in. Telling people about your cancer also allows them to offer support. 

Telling children

Planning also helps when you are deciding when and how to tell children that you have cancer. Think about how much you want to tell them, and the way you want to say it.

Children’s understanding and their reactions to the news depend on their age. Young children don’t need much information, while older children and teenagers need to know more.

You may also want to give some extra reassurance to your children, for example:

  • It is not their fault that you are sick.
  • It is not possible to catch cancer from someone else.
  • They do not have to feel alone, as family members will be there to support each other.
  • You still love them as much as you always did, even if having treatment means you may have less time to spend with them for a while.

You are the best judge of when and where to tell your children. You may want to tell them together as a family, or alone so you can tailor the information to the age of each child. Whichever way you choose, it can be a good idea to choose a quiet time when you won’t be disturbed.

Telling people at work

If you work, you may want to think about whether to tell your work colleagues, and how much you want them to know. Keep in mind that you may need to tell a manager or supervisor that you have a medical condition, in case you need to take some time off work.

Talking to people about your cancer

Men who have been diagnosed with penile cancer may feel embarrassed, shocked and upset. Finding reliable information on this condition can also be challenging.

This can make it difficult to talk to other people about their cancer, including physical changes to the penis following treatment.

Some men may feel more comfortable talking to other men who have experienced penile cancer.

The Cancer Council - 13 11 20 has:

  • face to face, telephone and online support groups
  • counsellors
  • an option to talk to someone who has experienced cancer through their Cancer Connect program.

Tell your doctor or nurse about how you feel and ask for a referral to see a social worker or counsellor.

Where to get help

There are people you can talk to for more information or support.

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