Talking to teenagers about cancer

I am months into my breast cancer journey having had chemo and surgery. My prognosis is good.

A close friend of ours has just been told his cancer is “manageable, but not curable” and this will become more apparent as time progresses because it has gone to his lungs and he will eventually need oxygen support (not for a very long time indeed, hopefully).

My teenage daughter has a tendency to be anxious. I want to be reasonably open with her about what’s happening but don’t want her to worry that what’s true for him will become true for me. I also don’t want to hide it from her in case she worries I’m hiding stuff about me as well.

Any thoughts or experience would be much appreciated.


My teenage daughter has an anxiety disorder and I was quite worried about how to handle things with her. However, I think it’s exactly what you stated. You have to be upfront but just make sure your calmness comes through and that you reiterate that what is happening with him is not happening with you. You cancer is completely different. And then continue modeling calmness and compassion. I find my daughter has not lost the need to see me assure her that all is okay in her world so I do that continuously.


Hi, I did some councelling about delivering the news.
They suggested me to be upfront but short, focusing on what is to be done and not the diagnose: I’ve been to the doctor for a check up, they requested some tests and found I have bc. This means I need to have a surgery over the nex weeks and then they make a plan for me to get better.
Allowing them to make questions, hug them, let them cry, cry with them and reinforce that I will try to be the best possible patient I can be to overcome this situation … and then being myself again and saying no to having a tattoo :wink:

1 Like


Please have a look at Parenting with Cancer and the fruitfly collective for a wealth of information on parenting with cancer.

1 Like

Thank you all, and for the links. Small doses and updates of honest seem like a good way forward for now.