As is always the case, being both a patient as well as the parent of a young child or adolescent can make a diagnosis of cancer all the more difficult. Coping with your own fears and unanswered questions can be overwhelming in itself, but trying to do this while also helping your child to understand his or her role in your treatment plan can be doubly difficult.
Fortunately, there are a number of resources available to assist the parenting patient in talking with his/her child. The following section has a list of the many resources available as well as places to go for support. Generally speaking, try to be as honest as you can with your child, but stay age-appropriate in what you share and how you share it. In fact, you may involve your child in helping you to draft questions for your doctor at your next appointment.
Make sure to reinforce to your child that while you are sick and may start to look and feel different, this does not mean that your love for your child will change. As such, encourage your child to be as involved in your care to the extent s/he wants to be and is capable. For younger children, perhaps suggest s/he assist you in documenting your new journey through the use of photographs, handmade pictures, illustrations, videos, or journals.
Most of all, remember that your child loves you. As a result, s/he may experience a variety of emotions as a result of your diagnosis. Keep him/her involved and think about ways that s/he can feel supportive of you during this difficult time.
Non-profit Educational and Support Organizations for Children and Their Families:
27071 Cabot Road, Suite 102
Laguna Hills, CA 92653
Founded under the premise that when a parent gets cancer, the entire family is affected. Children facing the same fears and sharing similar experiences can be helped by others in a similar situation. Resources offered include: quarterly newsletters, support groups, children’s camps, online chat rooms, and other events.