I remember the moment I was diagnosed. I was sitting in my car looking for coins for the parking meter when my cell phone rang. It was my doctor’s office. Within moments I heard the news. I was stunned, in disbelief, and immediately I thought … oh no, how will this impact my son.
My son has always been very sensitive to anything happening around him, so I knew that he would be especially tuned in to the fact that I would be working less and visiting the doctor more.
He was 9 when I was diagnosed with cancer for the first time, and I learned that although hard to do, sharing my cancer diagnosis with him was important and necessary.
Here are a few tips that helped me and can help you broach the subject with your child:
• When answering their questions be honest.
• Speak in a language that a child can understand.
• Don’t barrage them with information, but rather, answer their questions as they come up.
• It’s okay to use the word cancer.
• Make them aware of symptoms that may arise with you, i.e., vomiting, hair loss, or fatigue.
• Just like with yourself, let them know that it’s okay to feel sad, mad, or scared.
• If there will be changes to their routine, let them know.
• Schedule some special events or outings and more play dates.
• Give them small jobs so that they feel involved and connected with you.
• And of course, kiss and hug them everyday.
This is a difficult time for everyone, as cancer can affect a family in many ways. Honesty and tenderness go a long way.