What do children need to know?

The following is a guide to what to cover in your initial conversation about cancer. These suggestions can help you adapt the information to the ages and reactions of your children.

Tell them the basics in words they can understand

You can break the news with a few short sentences explaining what you know so far and what will happen next.

Be clear about the name of the cancer, the part of the body that has the cancer and how it will be treated. To help explain cancer terms, you can:

Start with small amounts of information. Ask them what they want to know, and only answer questions that they ask – don’t assume children will have the same concerns as you. You can give them more details later if they are interested. For younger children, accept that they may ask the same question several times. Each time you answer, they will absorb a little more information. Older children may be distant and quiet while they process the diagnosis.

Find out what they already know

Ask your children what they know about cancer and clear up any misinformation or myths (e.g. they might think that you can catch cancer, that their naughty behaviour caused the cancer or that everyone dies from cancer). Children get information from various sources, such as school, TV programs and the internet, and they may have their own ideas of what having cancer means. Parents can help guide their children towards accurate online information.

Be honest and open

Let them know if you don’t know the answer to a question. Say you’ll try to find out the answer from the doctor and let them know as soon as possible. Make sure you follow this through.

   — Izzy, aged 15

Tell them what to expect

Your children are likely to want to know what treatment will mean for them. If you are in hospital, who will drop them to school, make them dinner, take them to after-school activities? Reassure them that there will be a plan and you will let them know what it is.

Ask them if they want to tell anyone

Your children may want to tell their close friends, all the teachers, the whole class – or nobody.

Explain that it’s helpful to share the diagnosis with a few key people, such as their main teacher and the school principal, as well as other important figures in their life, such as a music tutor or sports coach. Discuss ways to approach these conversations. Go here for ideas about talking to the school.

Balance hope with reality

Tell kids that although cancer can be serious and going through treatment can be challenging, most people get better. Explain that with the help of the doctors and treatment teams, you (or the person with cancer) will be doing everything possible to get well.

Show your love and emotion

Tell your children that you love them, and show your love by hugging them, comforting them and making them feel valuable.

Some parents worry about crying in front of their children, but this is okay as long as you are not out of control. It can be helpful for kids to know that strong feelings such as anger and sadness are normal, and expressing them can make people feel better. Being honest with each other about feelings can help your children cope.

   — Lily, aged 17

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Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

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Need more help? Visit: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4059


To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
Need more information? Visit: http://www.kobo.com/help/koboaura/response/?id=3784&type=3

Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

Need more help? Visit: https://au.readerstore.sony.com/apps_and_devices/

Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_1-1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200767340&qid=1395967989&sr=1-1
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
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Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.

This information was last reviewed in December 2018
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