Recently diagnosed - what should I tell my 4 year old?

Hi ladies


I was diagnosed with BC last week and am awaiting the results of my MRI to agree the treatment plan. My four year old daughter has been asking me all about “Mummy’s owie” since she saw my biopsy plaster and I really am at a loss as to what to say to her. Should I be honest or pretend that nothing is happening? I want her to understand that things are not right, particularly if the treatment is aggressive and/or if a family member or friend says something to her.


Does anyone have any recent experience and advice? Thanks, Helen xx

Hi Helen x my thoughts are with you - my children are much older (15 twins and 19) but I was given quite a helpful booklet about talking to children about it - you should be able to get it too from ur bCN or this site - Macmillan also have a booklet x I do think it’s best to be honest with them but you don’t need to worry about not having all the answers xxx I didn’t want anyone to be scared to hear the word cancer in the house so was quite upfront but at four yours might not understand that - you might find it easier to wait for the treatment plan then you can say - my ‘ouch’ is going to have a hospital visit and the Drs are going to remove it to make be better, for example x I would agree that I wouldn’t want my children to be worried about something they heard second hand xx much love to you - I’m having op on 12 jan and things do get easier when the clinicians take over a bit x sarah x

DEFINATELY not alone Helen xxx we are with you every step of the way xxxx

Hi Bliss1978

I’ve attached a link to the BCC publications “Mummy’s lump”  and “Talking to your children” which you might find helpful:’s%20lump.pdf

Very best wishes


BCC Moderator

Hi helen,  my girls are 10 and 11,  so thats a big differance.

However one of mine asked me in the car on the way to school if I had cancer. (Car swerved a little)

I said it was a complicated story, as I was pre definate diagnosis then, anyway.

How I explained it to them was that I had a hard lump in my breast. (Which they both asked to see )mine was 5cm so it was easy to feel. 

I said that sometimes your body goes a bit silly and makes a lump that doesnt know when to stop growing,  so theres not enough room for it, a doctor has to take it out in hospital and sometimes you end up needing horrible medicine that makes you feel sick to make sure the lump doesnt come back. 

Both girls have had a couple of moments of being sad and concerned but seem to be ok with it.

As mine was found at the end of October,  breast cancer month, I pointed out that all the money raised from pink ribbons,pens etc went to research, so they know how to fix it.

They insisted on checking out my mastectomy wound, and their biggest concern is if it hurts.  I said I have medicine like pamol that means it doesnt. 

I believe you need to say something,  mine figured it out from overheard snippets, children make stuff up in their heads otherwise.  

The other thing is, if they havent dealt with it before a calm explanation is not really scary, they havent watched hideous medical dramas,  or seen statistics that terrify us. 

They will take their cue from you. And they give the best most gentle hugs xxx



Hi Helen, my daughter was 4 when i was diagnosed 3 years ago. We told her that mummy had a poorly boobie and needed an operation, she was happy with that. When my treatment plan included chemo we told her that I needed some medicine to make me better but it would make my hair fall out and might make me feel poorly, we stressed that it was only the medicine i was having that caused this and nothing that she ever had to take would. She accepted everything we told her and never really questioned it, we also spoke to the school who were brilliant with us. I struggled with the thought that everyone knew what I was going through and found it hard to be amongst people with nobody daring to mention the fact that i was bald, i was also paranoid about taking my daughter into school with all those little darlings full of snot and lurgy, so the headmisstress allowed me to take her to school a few minutes late and the office staff took her to her classroom. Hope this helps, please feel free to PM me, take care CC x

Hi Bliss,
It’s very difficult to give a clear timeline to an employer since it depends on the treatments and what side affects you have…eg some people have a real problem with fatigue, others not so much or not for as long. Plus the results of any additional tests and checks as you go along. Hence strongly suggest you tell your employer you will get an idea how longish you may be off once you have a treatment plan, however due to the nature of treatment and possible side affects you may not know how long you will need off until you go through each stage of treatment. What you can do is tell them you will update them and keep them informed at key stages and of your progress to assist them re planning and if any cover is needed.
I’ve been off much longer than I imagined, fatigue plus losing nearly all my iron due in part to another issue. The result HR on my back since was off longer than I initially ever imagined (plus I played it all down at the beginning since didn’t want people worrying about me)