Talking with your children

How much you tell children will depend on how old they are. Young children need to know that your cancer is not their fault. They also need to know that you may have to go into hospital. Slightly older children can probably understand a simple explanation of what is wrong. Teenagers can understand much more. All children need to know what will happen to them while you are in hospital, who will look after them and how their daily life will be affected.

Sometimes, children rebel or become quiet. Keep an eye on them or get someone else to, and get help if you need it; for example, from the school, a counsellor or a hospital social worker.

The Cancer Society has a booklet, Cancer in the Family, written to support parents and carers in the difficult task of talking with your child or children about cancer. To get a copy of this booklet, contact your local Cancer Society, phone the cancer information nurses on the Cancer Information Helpline 0800 CANCER (226 237) or download it from our website.

"There was something growing in my body that wasn't supposed to be there. It is called cancer. The doctors took it out in the operation I had. Now I will have treatment so it doesn't grow back. If you have any questions about cancer, you should ask me. Sometimes you hear frightening things about cancer. I will tell you what we know about my cancer." Marie talking to her nine-year-old daughter

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