just told my 4 year old that I have cancer today

Hi everyone

I’m feeling so so sad. I’ve just told my 4 year old that I have cancer today and I feel incredibly emotional about it.

The actual talk was a bit overdue as I’d been putting it off but I’ve just spent 11 days in hospital unexpectedly and it brought a lot of emotions to the surface for him. I think he remembered a lot of emotions from my 1st diagnosis, 2 years ago, which he couldn’t actually understand or articulate. His teachers at school raised concerns as he was so quiet, not playing with his friends and one day told everyone ‘my mummy has died’. He was sobbing his heart out every day that I left him at school the last few days, so the talk needed to happen.

I’m feeling a lot better now I’ve done it but it makes it very real and to hear him talking about ‘naughty cancer cells’ and ‘I don’t want you to have cancer in you body mummy’ and ‘those cells look like monsters’ - very upsetting. He’s just so innocent and caring and sensitive and gorgeous and I wish so so much he didn’t have to go through all this with us.

All the uncertainty is driving me mad too - what is the future holding for us all - I almost can’t bear it lately, I feel I need to know if I’ve only got a couple of years - but no one knows and no one can say - so it’s all a bit ridiculous really.

I’m just very sad at the moment - can’t be positive all the time can we???


Hannah, I’m so sorry as I don’t have any words of wisdom for you, but I just wanted to say I’m thinking of you.

I’m in a different situation in that my baby boy was only nine months at DX (seven months ago) so I didn’t have to explain anything to him, but I could cry sometimes just looking at him and wondering if I’ll still be here when he’s a big boy.

This disease is so bloody cruel, and I feel sick and tired of it. I think each and every one of us will always feel uncertain about our future, and friends and family will never understand that fully.

Love to you and a big hug to your gorgeous little boy : )

Shenagh xx

thanks shenagh - it’s so so crap that it’s affecting so many of us with little ones. I can totally understand your feelings about your baby boy as I was in a similar situation when first diagnosed. you feel robbed of what should be such a happy time as there are a lot of sad emotions and a lot of crying.

I was first diagnosed 2 1/2 years ago, my baby was 7 weeks old and george was just 2 so didn’t have to explain much then, just told george my hair was going to fall out and he thought that was quite funny. he helped my husband dress my radiotherapy burns which needed doing daily and saw me go through surgery. He obviously took in quite a lot then and I feel he’s probably remembering a lot of emotions from then that don’t quite make sense now. I’m really feeling for him, his head is just full of worries and he’s complained of a headache now for last few days which is what happens to us when we’ve got lots on our mind.

Hopefully, things will begin to make a bit more sense for him as he processes our conversation over next few days.

just wish he didn’t have to think of any of this, thanks and lots of love to you and your baby - where are you up to in your treatment


Oh Hun, big hugs to u and ur little boy.

I know how you feel, I have a 4 year old, 3 year old and ten month baby. Although it was very difficult to tell them that I’m poorly it was easier as they have a good understanding of lumps and chemo and operations as my son (4) has just finished chemo himself. It’s very sad that they took it so well in a way, it’s like they just think that having chemo is normal if you’re poorly. My 3 year old today told me she wanted to be just like her brother and have no hair which was very very hard to hear.

The good thing is that you’ve been honest with him and he knows what’s happening, I really think it helps them deal with it as they understand so much even at this young age. We don’t call it cancer very often, we mainly talk about poorly lumps.

I think the best n most important thing is to make sure they know how loved they are and to try to have fun and remain positive as much as possible which I’m sure you’re doing anyway.

Another big cyber hug from me and lots of live to you both.

Love San. X

thanks san - that must just be the hardest most difficult thing to go through seeing your little boy going through it all too, kids are just so fantastic in the way they deal with things though aren’t they? i feel that they’ve helped me get through it all as there is no chance to wallow and they’re always looking ahead and just show so much resilience, it’s incredible.

You don’t want it to be ‘normal’ for them but that’s how they just accept things, which is the best way, but so hard for us to hear.

I took advice from macmillan website and my psychologist about using the word cancer - but I’m just a bit worried that he’ll repeat it innocently at school or to whoever and might get a bad reaction - but the school are totally aware of what’s going on so should be ok.

I know I scare people sometimes the way I say it so easily - well, it’s been part of our life for 2 1/2 years and is normal to us now.

very tricky to know to do the right thing isn’t it? i’m happy with mine and george’s conversation now, but just feel the saddest feeling and that’s just a mummy feeling i think

lots of love to you all too


Sorry you had to go through this Hannah.

My 6 year old took everything in his stride after I’d read “Mummy’s lump to him” but now thinks that because my hair is growing back it’s all okay and we’ll be going on a holiday. I haven’t said anything different.
He heard coronation street the other night and asked me if people die from cancer…then said well you’re not because you’re better. They do take it all in don’t they! I think honesty and cuddles are the best thing.
Katie x x

Oh Hannah, it’s hard isn’t it? I haven’t told my 2 yr old, she would not understand really, but I have told my 5&7 yr old boys. All they can keep thinking about is that I will loose my hair, so they have been out with me when I have picked out a wig, they thought it was fab!

My 5 yr old has Aspergers and decided to shout out in the middle of a shop the other day “is it because you have bad lumps mummy?!” ooohh did I go red in the face.

I think it is hard to say that I will keep things as routine as possible to minimise disruption once I have surgery and treatment, but all you can do is try for their sake hey?

Paula xx

Aww Hannah I have two girls…a 6yr old and a 3yr old…its the one time that I get angry and most upset when I think about my girls and how unfair this is on them and me, when all I want to be is a good mum to them!!!

I couldnt agree more honesty is the best policy! I must admit Ive not used the ‘c’ word with them…they just know mummy has a bad lump…and my 6yr olds favourite bedtime story was ‘mummys lump’ for about 2 months…when asked why it was because she liked to know as much as she could about what was going on with me…

I must say I’ve been through chemo…a couple of stays in hospital…and now a mx…and other than when Ive been in hospital my girls havent been disrupted or disturbed by any of it…

They;ve seen me be sick…lose my hair…and now my boob…but Ive kept them in their routine…and I always try and be the same mom Ive always been…and they seem to be very well balanced…had a few blips with the oldest girl when I lost my hair…but I made it fun by her cutting my hair off…then picking my new hair…and decorating the foam head it goes on…

What Ive learnt is as long as your still there and your appear ok with it all then they will be too…they look to your reaction for guidance…

I think its so tough having young children and the impact that it has on their childhood but I also feel blessed…my girls are the reason I drag myself out of bed every morning despite how bad I may feel…and they give me the fire in my belly to fight this bloomin illness all the way !!!

Just remember so many of us understand and are always here to support you xxxx

Lots of love xxxx

I just wanted to send love to all you young mums and your little ones. This is a cruel, cruel disease and my heart is aching for you.
I hope you all see you babes grow up into strong and happy people
love to you all
monica xx

Just want to offer you all my thoughts and best wishes. You are all so brave and strong. I’ve been feeling sorry for myself recently and you put me to shame. At least my children are now adult and my baby grandaughters have lovely parents to look after them so won’t really need me.
I work with primary age children and it breaks my heart to think of them suffering.

Hi All

You may be interested in one of our factsheets on the subject of talking to children.

I have given the link here, the factsheet can be either downloaded or ordered through the site:


I do hope you find this a useful read.

Kind regards


just wishing all you ladies with young children , all that you wish for yourselves. I admire you all, my children are now 30 and 20 years old. Everytime I feel like going into the black hole or am nervous of procedures, I just think of them , and like you say it puts the fire back in your belly

heres hoping for a cure very very soon

take care xx

HI Hannah

Just logging in to empathise. My girls were 4 and 2 at my dx, getting on for 2 years ago. We found the ‘Mummy’s Lump’ publication, free from this website in case anyone reading was wondering, to be absolutely perfect in explaining to them what was happening and it made them feel like they are not the only little children whose mummy has this, which is a bit normalising for them.

My girls are now 6 and 4 and I took the 6 year old to a party this afternoon, but the 4 year old was really clingy before we went, said she never wanted me to leave her. Heart-rending stuff.

It is amazing how much they remember from 2008 when I was having primary treatment, they will suddenly remind me of something about that time.

Not long after my dx, both of my parents said that they wished it was them, and I said so do I, and I still do because of my girls.

Good luck to us all
Hugs all round

Hi all,

I’ve put below the link to BCC’s publication Mummy’s Lump.


and also the area of the website discussing talking to your children about BC:

Hope these links are useful. Kind regards,
Jo, Facilitator

You are all so incredibly brave.

I’ve just been diagnosed with breast cancer for the third time in 4 years.

I had a mx just over a year ago, but to no avail. I have a 16 month old son and a two year old daughter.

I’m just waiting for the results of my scans to see if the cancer has metastasized.

My daughter knows that mummy has a ‘hurt’ in her boob which has come back, and she can see the scars on my reconstruction and kisses them.

My son walked for the first time yesterday - so life isn’t all sad.

I hope I can be as brave as you xxx

Wintoniangirl, just wanted to say that I’m so sorry that your bloody cancer has come back. You also sound incredibly brave, and I bet your children are keeping you going through this tough time. Remember we are all here to help too. Good luck with your scans, please let us know how you get on. I have a bone scan tomorrow so a bit nervous about that.

I remember when I was doing rads, my baby son took his first steps while we were waiting at the hospital - so I remember it as a happy time as well as a sad time.

Love and hugs to all the brilliant brave mummies on here

Shenagh xx

Just to share my experience…

I was diagnosed back in 2005 when my son was 10 weeks old so I didn’t have any explaining to do at the time. However since that time I’ve spoken to him about me being ill, why I’ve got a bad arm (lymphoedema) and about the special medicine I had which made my hair fall out. I’ve also read mummy’s lump to him.

I’ve recently had double mx and recon because of BRCA1 so I’ve also explained that I had this to try and stop these nasty lumps that make me ill coming back.

Due to my auntie being diagnosed with BC in the last few weeks and some news items about cancer I used the cancer word with him for the first time last week. Which I found a bit a strange, I must admit.

For me, its been important to talk about it with him and make him aware (as much as he understands) about what is happening.

Hi Shenagh
hope the scan went OK today
will you get the results quickly?

Hi Monica

Sorry, totally forgot to post on this thread. I am still waiting for my ‘official’ results but the nurse looking after me (who appeared to be very experienced) told me afterwards that from what she could see, everything looked clear. Massive relief!! I then saw the surgeon in the afternoon to discuss possible risk reducing bilat MX and reconstruction - yet more to think about!! Thank you for asking - I see many of your posts and you are always very thoughtful and caring - it is very much appreciated!!

Hugs to all

Shenagh xx