Breast cancer is certainly not a diagnosis anyone wants to hear.
The good news is that breakthroughs in treatment have made it entirely possible to have an incredibly full life, even while coping with the disease.
The bad news is that breast cancer still claims thousands and thousands of women’s lives every year, and we’re seeing more incidences of it than ever before.
Getting a breast cancer diagnosis can be a huge shock. You deal with a wide range of emotions: anger, fear, sadness, and depression. And if you have children, figuring out the best way to tell them about your situation can add significant pressure to a difficult time. You want them to be aware of what you’re going through, but you certainly don’t want to terrify them. It’s tricky, but there are some methods that seem to work.
Here’s a look at some ways to explain a breast cancer diagnosis to your kids that will help smooth out the complications.
The direct approach. Sometimes simple and direct is the way to go.
You can simply sit your kids down and tell them you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer. Don’t just leave it at that, though. Make sure you explain exactly what it is, and that there are different types.
Reassure them that you’ll be receiving fantastic care and that the doctors will make sure everything is okay.
They may ask you if you’re going to die. You don’t want to lie to them. But just tell them that treatments are constantly being discovered, and you’re lucky to be in a position to be able to get all the possible treatments.
This won’t work for every child, so you’ll have to determine if your little one will appreciate this approach.
Hear them out. Remember, you have a support system to deal with your feelings around the diagnosis, but at this early stage, you are your children’s support system.
It’s all a bit scary, so let your kids fully express their fears around the situation. They may be confused, angry, intense or tearful. Any and all of these are normal reactions.
Make sure that they know that, and know that they can express whatever they need to express to you and that you’re there to hear it all.
Try to be a role model. You’re certain to have difficult days during the treatment, but let your love for your children keep you positive and upbeat. However you choose to tell them about it, they’ll deal with it the same way they see you dealing with it.
Get whatever sort of support you need, from your significant other and professionals, so that your kids don’t have to see their mother struggling. At the same time, prepare them for what may be ahead. Let them know that you’ll have bad days, but that it’s all part of the process of getting better.
Think outside the box. If the direct approach doesn’t feel right for your children, there are other ways to break the news.
There’s a whole line of children’s books with breast cancer themes.
There’s also a set of dolls, called Kimmie Cares, that can help your children understand the sort of changes you’ll be facing during treatment. The dolls have removable hair or very short hair, so they’ll be less confused if you have side effects from chemotherapy. They even come with chemo hats or little bandanas.
Let them know life goes on. You’ve got all the breast cancer information, but they only have you. Make sure they know all these side effects are temporary, and that you’ll soon be back to normal. They want to know they’ll still have the same relationship with you, and you can reassure them that no matter what happens, you’ll always be their mom.
Make sure they know all these side effects are temporary, and that you’ll soon be back to normal. They want to know they’ll still have the same relationship with you, and you can reassure them that no matter what happens, you’ll always be their mom.
If you have breast cancer symptoms, please see your doctor.