Telling your children that you have breast cancer can be a challenge. You don’t want to frighten and overwhelm them, but at the same time, you don’t want to leave them guessing at what you’ve been upset about. Since children have an innate ability to sense when something is wrong, and may invent a problem that is much worse than reality if information is lacking, it’s important to be honest and to keep the lines of communication open.
Here is a sample script for an older child that you can adapt to your own particular situation. For information on what to say to children of various ages, see the resources listed at the end of this section.
If you have adult children, telling them about your cancer diagnosis is just as difficult. They may have a lot of questions and feelings. Talking to them about your treatment plan may help them cope with the news. You may consider letting them speak with your doctor if they have questions. At times, you may need their support with everyday tasks or you may need to rely on them when it comes to making treatment decisions.
Speaking with a social worker at your cancer centre may help you find the right words or you can check out the following resources:
Wellspring’s When a Parent has Cancer educational guide
Okay Mommy, I Will Help You is a book that was written by a 10 year old girl about her experience dealing with her mother's breast cancer diagnosis
Mommy Gets Cancer, a children's book by Dr. Roochi Arora that helps to introduce children to cancer
The Canadian Cancer Society has a database that can be used to find local support services in your area. You can access it below: