Telling your children about your breast cancer diagnosis
One of the things you are going to have to do when you get diagnosed with cancer is to tell your children about it. It's going to be a very difficult and distressing time for you all, but it's vital for you and your family to talk about it in order for you to move forward with your treatment.
Some experts believe that telling people about your cancer can be a constructive step in the treatment process. Cancer patients often misjudge how much support they can draw from their children whilst they are suffering from cancer. Their initial reaction is to try and shield their kids from the shocking news, after all a mother's intuition is to protect. Most professionals believe it's vital to discuss your cancer with your children and to be truthful with them. Children can be very insightful and will often feel there is something wrong. They may overhear you on the telephone or talking to your spouse and will start to imagine the worst possible situations, causing them more anxiety than necessary.
You are likely to feel very uncomfortable when you tell your children the news about your cancer, so try and have a plan in place on how you tell them and what facts you choose to give them. They are bound to ask you lots of questions, so if you have a plan in place you will feel more in control of the situation. If you have more than one child you may choose to tell them separately, as the older ones may be capable of taking more information in than the younger ones. Explain the facts about your cancer to your children so they are prepared. Keep the conversation very factual, explain what has happened and give them the basic details of your illness, if they know what to expect, it will be easier for them to cope.
It's vital that you tell them the doctors are doing all they can to help you and will be giving you treatments to help you get better. If you are going to need radiotherapy or chemotherapy, you should explain to them what is going to happen and the possible side effects. If you need an operation, explain that you will be in hospital for a while but they can come and visit you as often as possible. If they see you in that environment it may make it less frightening for them. Many experts believe that being positive about your illness goes a long way in helping your recovery, so be positive when you talk to your kids about your cancer. They may have very negative thoughts on cancer if they know of someone who has died from it previously. Communicate with them and tell them about all the research and fund raising that goes into helping cancer patients everyday.
If after reading this article you still feel that you are unable to tell your children about your cancer, you could ask your spouse or another member of your family to help you out. If possible you should be there whilst they tell them as this will provide them with some reassurance. Even if you feel you can't speak to them, giving them a hug will make them feel more secure. After your child has taken on all the facts and is living with you through your illness you might start to see them withdraw. If this starts to happen it's important that you get them to talk. If you don't feel you can help, you may need to contact an expert. Start with your family doctor, they should be able to point you in the right direction.
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