Why is Mommy sick?
Should you tell your children about your breast cancer? And if so, how can you ease their fears when your own emotions are running amok. It's a difficult choice, but one that many parents deal with when a spouse is diagnosed with breast cancer. Most experts advise parents to tell their children.

Please Tell

Fact is, children are much more perceptive than we think. They see the changes, the worry, the fear in their parents. Hiding it only takes more energy--energy that could be channeled into fighting the disease. The challenge is to blend the cancer and its treatment into your day-to-day lives.

According to the American Cancer Society, children need information that will prepare them for what is about to happen to their parent and how it will affect them. Children ages 2-8 do not need a lot of detailed information, while older children, ages 9-12 and teens, need and deserve to know more.

What to Say

You should tell the truth and speak in such a way that children are able to understand and prepare themselves for the changes that will happen in the family. Kids want and need routine in their lives--it helps them feel safe. When life becomes unpredictable, they will need help in adjusting to the changes.

Here are some tips from ACS for what you should tell your children:
  • The type of cancer, such as breast or lymphoma.
  • The part of the body where the cancer is.
  • How it will be treated.
  • How their lives will be affected.
  • Also, tell them no one caused the parent to get cancer.
  • You can't catch it, like you would a cold or the flu, so it's OK to hug and kiss.
  • The family will work together to cope with the cancer and its treatment.
  • Even though the parent is sick, the children will still be loved and taken care of.