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Telling my young children about my cancer
20 Posts
Hi there I’m a 42 year old mom who has been recently diagnosed with anal/rectal cancer. I have 2 young boys the youngest being 6 and the older one being 11 has anyone ever had to break the news to their young children and if so would anyone have any advice to give me on how to do this any help/advice would be so appreciated
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2007 Posts

I found a link in the Canadian Cancer Society website Talking to children about cancer and I am sure you will find it helpful.

This link is for the Canadian Cancer Society and I encourage you to look through it as it is full of good Canadian information for you and your family.

I hope this helps all concerned.

Keep well

Hi Mamabear41

I'm glad you posted. You have received some great resources to check out.

I'd also like to introduce you to cancertakesflight‍, alexisrj‍, prairiemom‍, Peta‍ who may have the experience of talking to their kids about cancer.

I once read that it is important to start with finding out what your kids know about cancer first. Different age groups have different understandings and knowing what they think is an important place to start. This allows you to correct any misunderstandings and help them understand about your diagnosis specifically. Also have a support person with you when you tell them if possible and remember it is okay to show emotion it allows them to show their feelings too.

ashcon‍ shared this booklist a little while back and I was really impressed with all the resources: https://www.parentbooks.ca/Cancer_&_Families.html.

Please let us know how it goes,

20 Posts
Thank you all so much this is very helpful
130 Posts
Hi Mamabear41‍ - welcome! I’m so sorry for the reason you find yourself here but hope that you will find this to be a supportive place as you navigate through everything.

I had my sigmoid colon removed last year (Stage 1 colon cancer). My kids are younger than yours (at the time, 4.5, 2.5, and 9 months old) so we didn’t give them too many details while at the same time we didn’t hide anything from them. I’m sure it would’ve been different if I had needed chemo or radiation at that time as well or if they had been older. The resources others have shared will hopefully be helpful for you! I agree with what others have said about sharing your emotions with your kids so that they know it is a safe space for them to do that as well (although balancing of course so that they aren’t feeling like they have to support you). With us, in general, my husband did most of the talking because he could do it without crying. That may be helpful for your partner or if you have a close family member/friend/etc who can be there as a support when you talk to your kids or to do most of the talking, with you there to add in or answer questions.

Please reach out anytime! You can tag others members by typing the @ sign and then start typing their username and you can select from a list so the person will be notified.

Sending you and your family virtual hugs!

Mamabear41‍ I totally understand how difficult it can be to tell a child. My children were a lot older when I was diagnosed with cancer. They were in their late teens. I didn't tell them until I knew for sure that I had cancer. I didn't want to worry them if I didn't have to. I did tell them that I had appointments because my appointments were in another city so my husband and I would be away overnight. When I asked them about it (my ongoing appointments) years later, they said they were just happy to have the house to themselves.

When I finally did tell them, they never said anything. I stated it like fact and they might as well have just said "OK". They never asked me any questions during my treatment. I went to work during chemo and radiation treatments, so things seemed pretty normal. I asked them if they talked to their friends about it. I wanted to see if they got any outside help. They told me no; it was a little hard to bring it up in conversation.

I don't know if this reaction was a coping mechanism, some kind of guy thing (both boys) or if they saw that I was okay that they were okay too.

So, to your point, I can't talk to how younger children might handle the news, sometimes they are more resilient than you than you might expect. They will, as they would with anything else, take their cues from you and your husband. It doesn't mean you have to always appear strong, just like you have times outside of cancer when you may be angry or sad. Just like that kind of situation, you have to find some kind of balance between how much and how little you share. Only you and your husband truly know your children and what is right for them.

1 Posts
My husband went through chemo in the fall, and the book "Cancer Hates Kisses" was a good one for our family. Best of luck with these tough conversations and treatment ❤
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