Talking to children about cancer – Carol


Carol has four children (between 6 and 11 years old). But it was her oldest daughter who was most aware of the possibility of dying.


They had a lot of pamphlets, a lot of books; one of them was how to help my children through this which was a big thing for me. I didn’t want them to be too scarred by all of this. But in the end, I didn’t even… There was a book that I could read to them, but the kids are very resilient and very okay. They were okay, my oldest one probably understood more the implications of breast cancer and the fact that in theory I could die. So she was probably the most affected by it and the younger ones just wanted to know about my hair and how I was going to lose my hair and then they said “Okay, can I have lunch now?” And that was really the end of it.

I think my husband and I both tried to just tell them that I’m sick and I won’t feel well sometimes but everything’s okay. That’s just the way it is and it’s going to be like this for a little while but there’s nothing to worry about. And for the most part they haven’t worried.

Interviewer: And did you give them all the same message because they have this age range or how did you manage that?

You can’t give them the same message because they don’t understand it in the same way. So my older one I really I told her the truth and all of it. That I had to do chemo and what the chemicals were going to do to me and in my body. But I just tried to reassure her that I wasn’t going to die. I was going to get very sick but it would be okay. And then my younger ones, I just said mommy was sick and sometimes I wasn’t going to feel good but that it would be okay afterwards. That they just had to be patient with mommy when she wasn’t feeling well. And they’ve been okay, they’ve been good with it. They’ve been good with it, I think sometimes they kind of forget and I have to say “I’m really not feeling well and I can’t do that.” And they go “Oh! Okay.”

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