How to Talk to Your Child about Cancer


Part of the pain and difficulty of being diagnosed with cancer is breaking the news to your family, especially to your children. Most probably, they will not understand the situation at first. But telling them about it is necessary; to prepare them for whatever will happen in the future.

Talk to your children in simple language, one that they would understand clearly. They would not, of course, be able to grasp medical terms, so, instead, use words that they can relate to. Avoid overloading them with too much information. Talking about cancer should be a continuing process, so you may provide them with small amounts of information at a time.

Tell your children what to expect. Surprises may not work in situations like this, so it is better to preempt them of what may happen in the future. For example, discuss with them the side effects of the treatment, such as hair loss or body weakness, so that they may not at all be surprised when they actually see the situation.

Make sure your children know that your illness is not anyone’s fault. Experts say that children tend to claim responsibility over things that they do not understand. Your children might think that you became ill because of what they did or what they did not do. So, explain to that that it is actually no one’s fault and that they can, in fact, help you to feel better.

Do not block your children out of the process. Research shows that it is good to have them visiting you in the hospital. That way, they will know what is happening and will not be left in the dark to imagine worse scenarios.

Maintain a normal life as you possibly can. Do not let your illness hamper you from spending quality time with your children. Even at the hospital, you can continue what you do at home such as checking their homework, or talking to them about school, or watching their favorite shows together. Of course, there are a few changes since you have to be careful about your health, but that does not mean you have to stop being with your children altogether.