The Voice of Canadians With Breast Cancer


Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer

Practical Issues

Telling Your Children You Have Metastatic Breast Cancer

Telling your children that you have metastatic 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, they 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 that you can adapt to your own particular situation.

  • “I have an illness called metastatic breast cancer. It means some lumps are growing inside my breast and my bones/liver/lungs/brain that shouldn’t be there.”
  • “The doctors are taking care of me and I’m receiving treatment.”
  • “It’s not your fault that I have cancer.  It’s not caused by anything that you have said or done or thought.”
  •  “Even though some things might change at home, you’ll still be able to go to your usual activities while Mom is having treatment.”
  •  “If you think of any questions or have any worries, please don’t keep them to yourself. Come and talk to me. It’s okay if you talk to someone else, too.”

As the cancer progresses, you may wish to discuss your mortality with your children:

  • “The medicine I have been taking isn’t working anymore, which means my cancer will get worse and my body can’t work like it should. When my body stops working, I will die.”
  • “Whatever happens, always remember that I love you and you will always be cared for and loved by other family members.”

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:



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