It may be difficult, but Dr. Gail Saltz says it is important to keep your kids informed about your breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Children may sense something is troubling you, and if you don’t let them know, they may think the problem is much greater than it is. Or worse—they might think the problem is something they’ve done!
Timing is important when revealing your diagnosis to your children. It may be better to wait until you’ve got a pretty clear diagnosis and have a plan of action in mind. You want to have plenty of information to work with so that you can answer your children’s questions.
On the other hand, you should tell your children what’s going on before you head into treatment. Once you start treatment, you’re going to be fatigued and likely have other symptoms that your children will pick up on and may find scary. You may also find yourself too tired to do the discussion the justice it deserves.
Make sure to tell your children about your breast cancer diagnosis in a non-alarming way, but be honest with them. It may be helpful to ask your oncologist, or even a mental health professional about what you can speak to your children about and how to do it. Be sure to also be in agreement with your spouse about what you’re going to tell the kids!
Uncertainty about the future can make talking with children difficult, but giving them some initial reassurance can go a long way.
Learn more about how to talk to your child about breast cancer in the video below!
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?