Talking to kids

I was diagnosed on Tuesday, I have two tumours, one is grade 1, the other grade 2. Don’t know any more at the moment as waiting for MRI and CT scan appointments to come through.


I haven’t talked to my kids yet. I have 2 girls, aged 9 and 7, and the complicating factor is my little one has high functioning autism.  I’m not planning to talk to them until we know all the facts, but I’d love to hear from anyone who has kids of a similar age, and how you told them, how they coped etc.


We’ve had all the books, leaflets etc from BCC and Macmillan, but the reality isn’t any less daunting.  I feel I’m about to pop two happy little bubbles, and that feels awful.



Milly,kids are amazing resilient and pragmatic about things like this,they don’t dwell on things like adults and if you are positive and reassuring they will be fine,easier said than done I know when you have such a scary thing going on.My son is a teenager and was going through exams when I was diagnosed ,I didn’t tell him at the time as I didn’t want to stuff up his future by landing this on him during such an important time .When my op went well and I found that I only needed radiotherapy I decided not to tell him.Everyone is different and you will find your own way of telling your children (or not as the case may be).A friend who was diagnosed at the same time has younger children and she drip fed the info over a few weeks when she knew a lot more about her treatment /timescales etc.It does help when you know more.Good luck lots of support available on this site.Jill.

I am going through similar. At the moment I have been diagnosed with dcis ( early stage contained in ducts) and treatment is removal of tissue with clear margin and then radiotherapy. I have two girls aged 13 and 8 and have just told them I have to have cyst removed. If I need more treatment after this then will tell them. I m here to support you if you need to chat. I m really anxious and suffer from panic attacks so very difficult to hide from kids.  Big hugs xx

I’m recently diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma. I have two little ladies 6 and 12. We decided to tell them. We told the youngest mum has to have a little operation to take a naughty lump out of her boob it’s called cancer. Her reply was “ha ha you said boob!” ? we went into more detail with the eldest, so she heard it from us not getting false information from anywhere else. There were tears from everyone. But she’s ok with it all now. It helps me stay positive but they understand they might see me sad or crying and to give me a cuddle if they do!

Hi, my daughter is 13. I totally sympathise, telling her was the hardest part. The best piece of advice I was given and may help with your eldest is to be honest. Use the word cancer. Tell her that you will always be truthful then she doesn’t have to worry you are hiding anything. 2 weeks on from telling my daughter it means she knows exactly what’s happening, and is obviously upset as to what’s happened, but not worried she’s being kept in the dark. Good luck x 

My ‘kids’ are 21 and 24 - was the hardest thing telling them both. They both live away from home, telling them was the most difficult thing I’d done but I did tell them I would always be honest with them so they never had to worry that we were hiding something worse from them.
I am a family support worker in a junior school, and all the training I’ve had says to be honest and use proper words such as cancer.
I am full of admiration for you ladies going through this with young children.
Sending you all lots of love xxx

Hi all.  I work in a therapeutic role with secondary age young people.  Younger children live ‘in the moment’ and will mostly take their lead from adults, becoming distressed if you are visibly distressed.  I would speak truthfully but in a way that doesn’t scare them and using language they can understand.  Explain you are upset because the diagnosis is a shock and you are worried about having an operation/treatment/missing work/not being able to drive/etc, but the doctors are looking after you.  Then I would respond to questions as and when they arise.  It is common for children to ‘re-process’ difficult events when they are older and more able to understand the world more in the way an adult does - ie that things aren’t clear cut and just because mum or dad says everthing is going to be alright, it may not work out like that.  They often need to grieve again based on their new understanding of life, the world, etc, and may have new questions, live through the fear again, feel low, etc.


Older children will be better at picking up on the non verbal cues from us, so it’s important to acknowledge if you are struggling emotionally and reassure them it’s normal to feel that way.  Older children may do their own research via friends and the internet, so it would be helpful to talk about some of the good and not so good outcomes of that (if only I could follow my own advice on that!).  If I had a pound for every young person that’s said to me ‘I can’t tell mum or dad, they have enough to worry about’ I would truly be a millionaire, so if you can, try to create an atmosphere where they feel it’s OK to ask questions and talk about their feelings, but without pushing them.  


My children are 21 and 18, both in important years in their education.  They want to know everything and they do know all the facts.  I am careful to be more cheerful than down around them.  If I need to cry I do it when they aren’t around or while I’m walking the dog, or in the shower.  The ups and downs of my emotions are the only thing I am attempting to shield them from really.  It’s a tough time, and we don’t have to get it ‘right’ all the time.  Kids are more resilient than we sometimes give them credit for and if they know they are loved they have a secure platform from which they can make sense of the world, good and bad.

Milly cat,  so sorry you are in this position. I wad diagnosed on Friday and have 10 yr old twins. We have decided to tell them more when we have more of a plan,  my daughter  asked this morning why have you had to have that done again  (biopsy) and gave just said that mum has a bit of a lumpy that they need to nibble again to see what it is x