At Wellness House we believe that everyone in the family is affected by the cancer experience. When a parent or loved one is diagnosed with cancer, kids will react in a lot of different ways. At Wellness House we know that even the smallest of kids know that something is going on in their family and they need to have age appropriate information to help them understand their feelings about the changes going on in their family.
Tips for talking with children about a cancer diagnosis
Be age appropriate and give correct information.
Tell children general information about what cancer is and what the treatment and side-effects will be. They don’t need too many details but will usually ask if they want more information.
Use the word cancer with a simple explanation “bad cells that are fast growing and crowd out the good cells.
Tell how you hope to get rid of the cancer (surgery, radiation, chemotherapy). There are over 100 types of cancer with different treatments so it is very important not to compare with other people with cancer that you may hear about.
Explain that cancer is not contagious.
It is O.K. to hug and kiss (if no one is sick) and you can never “catch” cancer.
Explain that all feelings are O.K. to have.
Allow children to have all their feelings. Encourage them to talk and share their feelings with you or another trusted adult. Help the children have appropriate ways to express themselves.
It’s important from the time of diagnosis to be honest about the cancer and treatment. Keep children informed/updated on a regular basis. Request they come to you (or another trusted adult) with any questions or worries and explain you will tell them the truth; if you don’t always know the answers you will try to find them out.
Explain that cancer is never anyone’s fault.
It cannot be caused by anything anyone said or did.
Keep children’s routines the same as much as possible.
Allow them to do their activities and spend time with friends (sometimes using a little assistance from friends and neighbors for transportation).
To learn how to answer common questions that kids have about cancer and what you can do to help, please contact Chelsea Yoo at 630-654-5107 or firstname.lastname@example.org.