Talking to Children About Cancer Treatment
When you are diagnosed with cancer your whole world can be turned upside down. You’re no longer living the life that you are used to; instead you are on someone else’s schedule and that “someone” else is your cancer. Doctor appointments, treatments, recuperating, and more – there is nothing that doesn’t suddenly seem to revolve around your cancer treatment.
For parents who have been diagnosed with cancer, there is also the terrifying prospect of having to tell your children what is going on. It is very important for this to be managed appropriately and how it is done depends very much on how old the children are so that information can be shared that is age appropriate.
When deciding when to tell children about a cancer diagnosis and how to do it, consider the following:
Regardless of the age, it’s important to give kids all the basic information regarding your cancer diagnosis including what kind of cancer you have and where it’s located in your body. You can give them a brief idea of how the cancer will be treated and what that treatment will mean to your daily lives.
Younger children should be reassured that you are okay and that you are surrounded by people who will do everything they can to help you get better. Giving them the details of your prognosis is probably more information that younger children need. Older children will likely need much more detail about the treatment plan and more.
Make sure that children understand that there’s nothing that they did that caused your cancer and there’s nothing they can do to make it better or worse.
Ensure younger children that cancer is not contagious. They may worry that hugging you or being close to you may mean that they can get sick.
Spend as much time with them as possible. Your life is decidedly out of control feeling at the moment and things will be changing drastically. There’s no way to really shelter a child from the reality of cancer, but you can take the time to spend with them on a regular basis and keep things as normal as possible in their world.