Once you have taken in the reality of your own cancer diagnosis, it can be gut wrenching to share it with your loved ones. This becomes exponentially more difficult if you have children. There are ways to tell your child of your cancer diagnosis, to be honest with them, and do so without frightening them.
Find the Right Time
It is recommended that you wait until you have all the facts before talking to your children. What is the diagnosis, where the cancer is located, what the treatment will be, and how long treatment will last are all important pieces of information you should know before speaking to children.
It’s important that you are calm and able to talk with them without becoming too emotional. If it is still too difficult for you to verbalize the situation, then put it off for another day. If you are part of a two parent family, it is beneficial for both parents to speak with the child together.
Find a time when you won’t be disturbed. This is crucial. You don’t want to be looking at your phone or trying to get dinner ready. You want to devote all of your time and attention to conveying the complete message and answering any questions your kids are likely going to have.
Their Ages Matter
If you have more than one child, it is probably best to speak to them separately. If they are close in age, it may work to tell them together. Obviously, you won’t explain the situation the same way to a 5 year old as you would a 12 year old, or a teen. Use phrases and explanations that they can grasp.
Don’t lie to them, but explain in a matter a fact way how life will change over the next few months for them and the entire family. This will help them be prepared and feel that they can honestly and openly communicate with you.
Plan What You Will Say
Don’t decide to “wing it.” Write notes if it helps. Think about what questions they may ask so as to be prepared with answers.
Expect There Will Be More Conversations
Don’t think you will only have one conversation with your kids. Make it known to them that they can bring additional questions (and concerns) to you anytime. Then expect it.
Calm Their Fears and Misconceptions
It is common for younger children to think that cancer is contagious, and older kids can begin to think that their discords or arguments with you caused your cancer. Reassure your children that nothing they have done, nor anybody has done, caused the cancer. Offer as much comfort as you can to them, and remind your kids that although some people can die of cancer, not all do, and you are going to fight hard to stay with them through treatments at Northwest Medical Specialties.
Contact Northwest Medical Specialties at (253) 428-8700 if you need help discussing cancer with your child.