How do I tell my sister that our brother has terminal cancer


New member
Sep 1, 2023
Last year my sister was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. She is the oldest and I am the youngest, and her main carer, although she does still manage to live alone. I have just learnt that our brother (who is aged in between us), has been diagnosed with cancer for the second time, and it is terminal. When we were growing up, we were all close, but over the last few years that has changed and we don't have a lot of contact with the brother, even though we all live in the same town.
What should I say to my sister?


Registered User
Mar 5, 2024
Oh gosh, I'm so sorry you are going through all of that. It sounds like a very personal decision, and likely depends on how your brother feels about telling your sister, and how your sister is currently able to process bad news and new information. In my experience, it is best to try and tell the truth as much as possible, but it really depends on the person and their current mental state & clarity. If you and your brother want to tell her, you could soften the news a little by just explaining that he is not very well right now, and leave out the part about it being terminal if you feel it will distress her too much. That way it can open the door for your sister to ask more questions if she wants, and reach out to her brother, but hopefully won't overload her with distress/anxiety if she doesn't want to hear too much about it.
I don't think there are any right or wrong answers, it really depends on your sisters ability to cope with bad news and how you and your brother feel about sharing it.


Registered User
Aug 24, 2013
Tell her nothing, just say he's I'll don't beat yourself about it, just do what is right for you, at time and get on with it. K


Volunteer Host
Apr 13, 2018
Welcome to Dementia Support Forum @brackenbeth59. I'm sorry to hear about your brother. If you don't have a lot of contact with him it might be best not to say anything unless she asks how he is. My mum went into care at the same time my brother was diagnosed with cancer. I never told her that he was seriously ill and most of the time she didn't seem to notice he wasn't visiting. I told her at first he wasn't very well, but would see her soon. As his hospital stay lengthened I sent him on a world tour (he's a musician). I'm not sure she understood that, but I felt it was better than telling her the truth. He did finally recover, but it was a long haul.

I'm sure others who have been in a similar situation will be along soon. This is very friendly and supportive site and there is always someone around to listen.


Registered User
Jan 29, 2023
So sorry that you are having to deal with your sister and the news about your brother. My advice would be not to tell her. As, from what you say, she is unlikely to have much contact with your brother you would be saving her the distress knowing. I certainly wouldn't tell my husband if his brother had a terminal illness. I will add that when my Gran was told unnecessarily that my Mum, her daughter, had died she didn't speak another word...this obviously has shaped my opinion.

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