- Cancer Information
- Advanced cancer
- Living with advanced cancer
- The others in your life
- How to tell children
How to tell children
There is no easy way to start this conversation, but it is important to let children know what is happening. It’s natural to want to protect children, but they will often sense something has changed. If you’ve explained cancer and its treatment before, it might be easier to start the discussion. However, you might find it hard to talk about the cancer spreading and being difficult to treat.
The conversation may be easier if you think about the questions children may ask and work out a response beforehand. To help understand the diagnosis, children or grandchildren need age-appropriate explanations.
These suggestions may help:
- Be honest and explain your prognosis using straightforward words.
- Keep your explanations as simple as possible, and be guided by their questions so you don’t offer more information than they may want or can handle.
- Expect that depending on their age, children may respond differently. This may range from displays of love and offers of help to withdrawal.
- Discuss ways your children might be able to help you, while still managing their other commitments or responsibilities.
- Organise or make time to spend with your children so you can create meaningful memories together.
Prof Nicholas Glasgow, Head, Calvary Palliative and End of Life Care Research Institute, ACT; Kathryn Bennett, Nurse Practitioner, Eastern Palliative Care Association Inc., VIC; Dr Maria Ftanou, Head, Clinical Psychology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, and Research Fellow, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, VIC; Erin Ireland, Legal Counsel, Cancer Council NSW; Nikki Johnston, Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner, Clare Holland House, Calvary Public Hospital Bruce, ACT; Judy Margolis, Consumer; Linda Nolte, Program Director, Advance Care Planning Australia; Kate Reed- Cox, Nurse Practitioner, National Clinical Advisor, Palliative Care Australia; Helena Rodi, Project Manager, Advance Care Planning Australia; Kaitlyn Thorne, Coordinator Cancer Support, 13 11 20, Cancer Council Queensland.
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