Finding out you breast cancer is traumatic, but having to tell your children can be just as difficult. While it’s overwhelming to imagine your child saying, “My mom has breast cancer,” it’s so important to be up front and honest with them. This is why you should plan out exactly how you want to approach this sensitive subject before discussing your diagnosis with your kids. Of course, there is no right way of how to tell your child you have cancer, but there are a number of things you can say or do to alleviate fear and communicate openly.
How to Tell Your Child You Have Cancer
Share all the facts.
When it comes to support for children whose parents have cancer, the truth goes a long way. You may feel that you don’t want to burden your kids with the details, but children of all ages deserve and can handle the facts. Chances are, they’re already aware of changes in your attitude or day-to-day happenings and they may be imagining frightening scenarios even worse than reality. Share with them what cancer is, and how treatment may affect you physically and emotionally. Give your kids honest and age-appropriate descriptions of what cancer is, how the treatment might affect you physically, and how you may feel emotionally. Give them the chance to ask questions and allow them to be open with their feelings, fears and emotions. They may cry and you may cry, so hugs can also go a long way as well! Depending on their age, you can search for some plush dolls to give them with encouraging messages to keep with them during your cancer battle.
Tell them it is not their fault.
Let’s face it. Kids are often stuck in their own world where they are the center of attention. This may cause them to think, “My mom has breast cancer. It must be my fault.” Reassure them often that your cancer diagnosis is not their fault. Having cancer is nobody’s fault, and nothing they did or said caused you to have it.
Assure them that the family will help each other.
When thinking of how to tell your child you have cancer, remember that family is an important part of the diagnosis. While there will be some changes as a result of your diagnosis, it’s important to reassure your children that the family will stay strong together. Not only is support for children whose parents have cancer important, the whole family needs to support each other. Assure them that together, you will work on making sure everyone’s needs are still taken care of, and over all, day-to-day life won’t be all that different. Remind them of their new and existing responsibilities – and also remind them that they are loved. This is another opportunity where plush dolls come in handy. Giving children a physical message of love is a great way to remind them that they are loved and everything is okay, even though my mom has breast cancer.
There’s tons of support for children whose parents have cancer, so remember, you – and they – are not alone.