If you have decided to disclose (and remember you generally aren’t required to, for more, read “Should You Tell?” ), then in most cases, the best time to tell is after you and your healthcare team have determined a course of treatment. At that point, you'll have a clearer idea of how your cancer may affect your schedule, job performance and/or your appearance. Then you can decide whether to tell people in advance of your treatment or on an as-needed basis. Just remember that the more notice you give people, the more time they'll have to work with you on solutions.
Sometimes circumstances beyond our control dictate when we need to tell. As a unit secretary in a small hospital, Joanne, 38, of Bradford, Ohio, found it necessary to tell her boss immediately upon hearing her diagnosis of breast cancer, “I told her immediately because I was put on medical leave by the surgeon immediately. I think my surgeon thought that my prognosis would be worse than it was. He wanted me to ‘get all my ducks in a row,’ so to speak.”
Joanne isn’t alone. Karen, 44, of San Jose, California, reveals that her breast cancer diagnosis also necessitated telling her boss immediately: “I was diagnosed on a Friday, and my mastectomy was scheduled for the following Monday, so I had to let him know that I would be off work for about three weeks.”
But take heart, even if the “when” is out of your hands, the “who...,” “what...” and “how to tell” is entirely up to you.