Tuesday, January 15, 2008

How to Explain Cancer to a Child


Explaining to a child that he has cancer is a heartbreaking experience while at the same time, a necessary step to help him cope with the trauma. It is not always easy for both the parent and the child, but if done in an appropriate way, it can help to ease the anxiety and fear of the unknown. At the same time, the child can provide honest feedback about his innermost feelings.


Difficulty: Challenging



Step One

Think about what and how you are going to say to her. Practice both in your head and verbally before you broach the subject.

Step Two

Pray for strength and for the right words to use to tell him what's happening to his body. Have a trusted adult with you for emotional support when you talk to him. Remember to explain it in small steps and that the process may need to be repeated again.

Step Three

Assure her that it is not her fault and explain the causes of her cancer to her. Reassure her that you will be there for her and that you will never leave her.

Step Four

Tell him the procedures that he will be undergoing. Use cancer related vocabulary to describe the treatment as this will ease his anxiety when he hears the words used among the doctors and hospital staff.

Step Five

Explain to her that she will undergo some pain with the treatment but that the doctors are there to help her feel better and make her pain as minimal as possible.

Step Six

Share your feelings with him about how you feel and encourage him to do the same. Keep your conversations open.

Step Seven

Keep a cheerful countenance even though this may be hard for you. Remember your outward expressions can affect how she feels as well.

Step Eight

Seek a support group to join for both your child and yourself.

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