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How To Talk To Your Kids About Your Cancer

Talking to your kids about cancer can be difficult, but these instructions will help you keep the lines of communication open and clear.


  • TIP: Many books are available to help explain illness to children. Check your local retailer or library.
  • Step 1: Encourage your child to express their concerns and feelings, and ask questions. It is crucial during this difficult time to keep the lines of communication open between you and your child.
  • FACT: Did you know? There are more than 100 types of cancer.
  • Step 2: Answer all of your child’s questions as truthfully and accurately as possible. If you don’t know an answer, simply say, "I don’t know."
  • Step 3: Explain to your child what the next steps will be. Include the details that directly affect their daily life, such as who will be taking them to school, feeding them, and tucking them in if you are in the hospital. Always reassure them that every step brings hope.
  • Step 4: Tell your child exactly what your diagnosis is in as clear a language as possible. Depending on the age of your child, tailor the conversation to their comprehension level.
  • TIP: Don’t lie or use jargon like "the big C." These muddle the important initial conversation and can confuse the child
  • Step 5: Pick a location that is most comfortable for everyone, like the family room. Allow plenty of time for this conversation.

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