Please, look for advice and resources that do not further complicate or adversely affect your own efforts to cope, but rather offers a path for you to do the best for your kids but still focus on all the aspects of you and your whole family living with cancer.
I know this is a tough subject. We love our children and grandchildren and want to protect them from everything out there that will make them hurt. And if you have been diagnosed with cancer and have young children or grandchildren, the worry of when and how to tell them about this scary illness is probably at the top of a long list of your AD (after diagnosis) concerns.
I recently put a resource together for newly diagnosed patients, which includes several videos, where I briefly broach the topic of telling family about cancer. The timing is uniquely personal to each new cancer patient — but the sooner the better, and don’t keep putting it off. Good advice, yes, but also scanty on the “how” part, especially as it applies to telling the youngsters in the family.
The “how” part, like the timing part, is also uniquely personal, and is different for each of you as they were the differences in each of our BC (before cancer) family lives. There are several online sources that offer advice on how to tell your kids that you have cancer. And they are worth looking at, to see if any relate well to your family circumstances, and resonate with you, personally, as a parent.
There are four things I would emphasize about what you are seeing online:
In addition to the advice offered online, some cancer centers offer psychosocial services that include help with how to handle the delicate first conversations when you share with your young children the news of your cancer diagnosis.
And there are a few children’s books that focus on stories about a parent or grandparent who has cancer, written from the viewpoint of a younger child, tween or teen. If you decide to get one of these books, make sure that you read them first, yourself, to see if they make sense and apply to your family circumstances.
There is one set of books for younger kids ages 2-6 (one for a sick parent and another for a sick grandparent) written by Kathleen McCue, called “Someone I Love is Sick.” It is (like My Notebook) published as a loose-leaf binder, with a plastic pocket to put the pages that don’t “match” your family.You can read to your children your hand-selected pages of the book. Maybe in a few months or a year, you may add and subtract pages, as appropriate.
All the above, is stuff that I have pieced together from authorities and resources I have researched.
Now, I have my own two cents to add: Please, look for advice and resources that do not further complicate or adversely affect your own efforts to cope, but rather offers a path for you to do the best for your kids but still focus on all the aspects of you and your whole family living with cancer. I am asking you, and the other adult members of your home team, to remember that there is no right or wrong way to do this. Some days, you will think you really got it right and some days, not so much.But it serves no one in the family well, if you are not only sick and fighting your disease, but also making yourself sicker worrying that your kids are being neglected while you are on this journey.
If you have any questions or comments or would like to share your own stories, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.