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10 Tips Telling Your Children You Have Cancer

~ When a parent has cancer how to talk to your kids ~

Age is an important factor in deciding what and how much you should tell a child about a cancer diagnosis. The guiding principle should be to tell the truth in a way that children are able to understand and prepare themselves for the changes that will happen in the family.






All children need the following basic information:

  • The name of the cancer, such as breast cancer or lymphoma
  • The part of the body where the cancer is
  • How it will be treated
  • How their own lives will be affected

1. Set a good time. Although there is no “good time” to break the news, try to pick an appropriate time to have the initial cancer discussion when you can devote the time – set up a quiet time when you won’t be disturbed.You may wish to talk to each child alone so that information can be tailored to each child’s age and understanding.

2. Be honest. Tell them, as least as long as they’re old enough to understand. Tell them, don’t lie to them, but give them age-appropriate information.

3.Talk Simply. Use simple, age appropriate terms to explain your diagnosis. Sometimes, older children will want a more detailed, scientific explanation to help reduce fears or clear up confusion. Younger kids tend to more easily accept the explanation that cancer is making your body sick and doctors are giving you medicine to help make you better.

4.Talk with Young children (up to age 8). can be told that the body is made up of lots of different parts. When someone has cancer, it means that something has gone wrong with one of these parts and it’s stopped doing what it’s supposed to do. Part of the body is no longer normal. Over time, a tumor or lump has developed, or a bunch of bad cells started to grow . The tumor (or the bad cells) should not be there.

5. Find the right balance.You don’t need to tell every cancer detail, but don’t feel you must hold everything back either. Find the right balance for your family.

6. Prepare Them. Explain to them , the medicine the doctors are giving you to help the cancer go away might make you sicker before it makes you better. Go over the possible side effects and physical changes that they may see you experience. Such like the fatigue, nausea, and weight loss, as well as emotional reactions like sadness and anger. Tell them the medicine would make the blob shrink down — and make her hair fall out.

7. Open the door & Let Your Kids Ask Questions.Try not to overload children with too much information at once. One way to avoid this is to give them small amounts of information, wait and then ask them if they have any questions. If they don’t, leave it at that. They may come back a day or two later to ask you a question.They might need to process the information for a while, so be sure to “check back in” frequently.

If your kids know they can ask you anything at any time and you’ll do your best to answer, this opens the door for continued communication. It can help to show you appreciate their questions by saying something like: “You have such great questions.”

8.Take every opportunity to communicate – Often children’s questions have a hidden meaning, so try to tease out the real meaning with responses like: “That’s interesting. What got you thinking about that?” You don’t have to immediately answer questions. If you don’t know the answer or want to think about it first, say you’ll come back with an answer. You could say something like: “That’s a really good question and I want to talk to dad/mum/the doctor. I’ll let you know what they say.”

9. Set them straight –Children often worry that they caused a parent’s cancer. Make it clear that nothing they have done caused your cancer and nothing they do can affect the course of the cancer.

10. Touch Base Often. Stay in touch with your children during extended hospital stays. If you are feeling up to it, let them know that they are welcome to visit during specific times.

Things You Can Say 

Obviously babies don’t need explanations. But as toddlers get older, they will understand basic ideas about themselves and their family. Here are some things you can say to your toddler to help her understand what’s going on:

About your illness:

  • “Mommy is sick and needs to go to the hospital to get better.”
  •  “I have an illness called cancer. The doctor is giving me some medicine to help me get well. The medicine might also make me feel sick or tired some days, but other days I will feel fine.”

To reassure your child:

  • “Daddy and Mommy need to go away for a couple of nights, so Grandma is going to come and stay with you.”
  • “Mommy has to stay in bed a lot and isn’t able to play, but she still loves you.”

Being honest with children may help bring your family closer as everyone rallies together to help. Sometimes we just need to allow them the chance to do so.

The above is just a general sharing , If you would like to know further and more proper method you may consult your doctor or seek help from counselor or cancer association .

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