Some people are divided about what and when to tell their children about cancer. I am no expert but I will tell you about my thoughts. I was upfront with my children. When I was diagnosed, my youngest child was 8 She knew that I had a tumour and she was informed on every step of the journey. Ashley was young and many told me I shouldn’t go into detail with her, some said don’t tell her just say your sick. I told her outright and I thought this was best as if anything went wrong she would understand and not be left out or feel cheated that she wasn’t told. The first thing she did was decide that we were not going to call the brain tumour that. It had to have a name, so since it was moving she had a theory that if I slept on my left side it would slowly come out of my ear.
Since it was moving it was called Charlotte, after the spider from the book. Telling her made her feel part of everything. She came to some appointments she saw the x-rays and the MRI and all the imaging. She often took them to school to share with the class. This was wonderful, because whenever I went into hospital I would be guaranteed a big hand made card from the entire class.
My other children we older, one was an adult the other two were 12 and 14. They found it easier to understand and again they all took their turns in coming to appointments. Everyone had a say in all that happened. When I started acting erratically, I had another doctor visit and found out more information and shared this with the kids. They needed to understand that these actions weren’t mum, they were Charlotte rearing her ugly head. They understood everything, if they had questions they would ask the doctors as I was in and out of hospital the kids got to know the routine of the hospitals and knew who to ask for everything and anything.
I also think it was important to tell them everything so that they can understand and so that they can seek help. Kids who are facing the possibility of their mum dying at anytime need help, so if you are open and honest they can then in turn seek help for what they are going through. Trust me my kids have been through hell.
They have been there when they were told I wasn’t going to make it. They were there when my bones were fracturing and picking me up off the ground. They had to help me dress and be near when I showered incase I had an accident. They had to clean up the mess. I think that knowing as much as possible helps them deal with it and to help them understand why shit happens.
So in my opinion, tell the children as much as possible let them know every step of the way. Explain all treatments to them and the effects this could have. It makes it easier for them to understand and then it’s not a nasty surprise when things go wrong or when you can’t cope. I would love to hear your opinions on this.