Talking To Children

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You may feel want to protect your children by not telling them about your breast cancer for as long as possible, but you should avoid this temptation. Even young children know when something is wrong and if they are not told the truth they can feel isolated and more anxious. Children also have an amazing capacity for dealing with unpleasant facts.

When to tell your children

Talk to your children as soon as you have been diagnosed with breast cancer. They have the right to know. The amount of detail you go into will depend on their ages and how easy you find it to talk about your cancer. Explain what is wrong and what your treatment will involve, including any possible side effects. You may find it easier to talk to your children individually at this stage.

Talk about your treatment

Keep your children informed as your treatment progresses, without going into too much detail. If you are going to have chemotherapy, warn your children that your hair will fall out and that you will be very tired while your treatment is happening.

Children’s worries

You need to be sensitive to your children’s reactions. Younger children may worry that they have caused your cancer or that they might catch it. Reassure them that cancer is an illness that is not caused by anyone, neither is it contagious.

What to do and not to do

  • Avoid medical jargons by using language that children can easily understand.
  • Be truthful and honest about your illness, treatment and feelings.
  • Listen to your children and correct any misconceptions they have.
  • Don’t be afraid to cry or say “I don’t know”.
  • Be careful not to make promises you’re not sure you can keep.
  • Accentuate the positive as much as you can.
  • Inform your children’s school about the situation.

Do look out for PRIDE’s programmes in the future, especially for children, on our website!