After the shock of breast cancer diagnosis, many women face another emotional challenge – how to share the news with their children. Depending on the age of your children, it might be difficult to know how or what to tell your children about your breast cancer diagnosis, treatment or prognosis. Even so, it’s important, to be honest with children and keep it simple for young children, this helps to maintain trust and keeps the lines of communication open.
You need not divulge all the facts right away, but consider the following when having your first conversation:

  1. First, set up a quiet time, you may wish to talk to each child alone so that information can be tailored to each child’s age and understanding.
  2. Try to tell other adults in your children’s lives, they may help maintain your children’s routines, as well as listen to their feelings and concerns.
  3. Reassure children that they cannot catch cancer like a cold or the flu, it’s OK to hug or kiss the person with cancer.
  4. Tell your children how much you love them. Repeat this message frequently during your first conversation and reassure them throughout your experience.
  5. Explain to children how your illness will impact their lives. Give them details if their routine will be disrupted. If children are older or seem able to absorb more information, explain the side effects of treatments you will receive: “I’m going to need a lot of sleep,” or, “The medicine that helps me will make my hair fall out so I’m going to buy a wig and wear funny hats or scarves.”
  6. You may want to prepare yourself to talk about death. It’s important to let children know that you’re willing to tell them the truth and that you’ll keep talking to them as you get more information. You could say: “I don’t know what will happen in the future, so let’s think about what’s going on right now. “The doctors have told me that my chances of getting better are very good. I believe them and I want you to believe them too”.

Finally, be optimistic – there are lots of new treatments for cancer.