How to Tell Your Kid You Have Cancer: 7 Tips 

How to Tell Your Kid You Have Cancer: 7 Tips 
  The hardest part of cancer? That’s a loaded question, but telling my kid about it ranks up there at the top of that list. Lauren had just turned 10 when my husband and I found a lump in my breast. A few days later, an oncologist predicted that I had three months to live. “We have to tell her,” Gary said. I wanted another day, just one more before we had to rock her world. But eventually, I did it, and if you have to do it, too, here’s my advice: 1. Get your head together. Before I talked to Lauren, I prayed. I cried. I stared at the wall. I froze pans of lasagna. I prayed some more. I meditated, took deep breaths, binged on chocolate, went for walks, and made water color paintings. I practiced saying words out loud so I could get through what I needed to say. Lauren would take her cues from me and this conversation would remain the cornerstone of those cues. I wanted to get it right. “Of course she wants to know about you,” a social worker told me, “but she also needs to know what’s going to happen to her.” That sounded right, so I channeled my inner 10-year-old and planned what to say. 2. Tell her cancer’s not contagious. Kids are smart, especially mine. But I’m glad the social worker reminded me that kids probably don't know they can’t “catch” cancer like a chest cold. I told Lauren we could still hug and touch and share milkshakes and she didn’t have to worry that she’d get cancer, too. Later, when I spoke to her classroo
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2 comments

  1. Its very hard to tell a small children that he has a cancer. cry is normal if any close child has the symptoms. It is difficult but better to tell them to truth. We must take care of the child to make them comfortable.

    • Nancy Brier says:

      For me, thinking through my conversation in advance and focusing during that time on the needs of my child was helpful for our family. I agree that truthfulness is the best strategy. If I erred in this regard, it was to chose to believe and communicate the more optimistic of my doctors, knowing that there was a chance he’d be wrong. So far, I’ve been lucky. My heart goes out to anyone who has this conversation in their past or future.

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