what a diagnosis of head and neck cancer means for you


Being diagnosed with cancer can be life-changing for you, your family and friends.

When you are first diagnosed with cancer, your cancer care team will speak with you about your treatment options and what you can expect.

You might need to:

  • take time off work
  • travel to your treatment appointments
  • arrange for transport as you may not be able to drive yourself home from treatment
  • ask your healthcare team about travel assistance, especially if you live in a country area
  • organise extra help around the house, or care for young kids or other family members
  • ask friends or family members to come with you to your treatment to look after you and help with things like filling in forms and keeping track of the advice you are given.

It’s important to take time to think about your next steps and make the choices that are right for you. Your healthcare team can discuss options with you and help you to think about your decisions. The best person to help you may vary at different times, but often it will be a social worker,  care co-ordinator, psychologist or specialist nurse.

Being diagnosed with cancer might change how you are feeling. You may feel worried, sad or helpless during this time. It’s important to know that these feelings are normal.

It can help to speak with your family and friends about how you are feeling or talk with a psychologist who specialises in caring for people with cancer. It’s important to know that you do not have to face cancer alone.

Your healthcare team will be able to put you in touch with patient support groups, in your area or online, so that you can talk with people in similar situations to your own.

You can also get support from the Cancer Council Information and Support hotline by calling 13 11 20 or visiting the Cancer Council online: www.cancer.org.au

Talking to family and friends

Talking to your family and friends about your cancer diagnosis can be hard. Having people close to you who know about your cancer can help to ease your worries or fears. It’s important to know that you don’t have to face cancer alone.

  • Cancer Council Australia offers support and some helpful advice for talking to others about your cancer diagnosis.
  • Cancer Council NSW has helpful advice for talking about cancer with your children.
  • Canteen is an organisation that has support for adolescents and young adults whose parents have cancer or who are helping to care for parents with cancer.