Breaking the News with Love: How to Talk to Your Kids About Cancer

How to Talk to Your Kids About Cancer

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is a life-altering event, not just for you but for your entire family. One of the most challenging aspects can be figuring out how to break the news to your children. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, this guide aims to provide some helpful tips and insights to make the conversation a little easier. Above all, it’s important to have open and honest conversations with your children about cancer to help them cope and feel supported during this challenging time.


When to have the conversation

Choosing the right time to talk to your kids about cancer is crucial. It’s best to have the conversation when you and your children are in a calm and relaxed environment, free from distractions. Find a time when you can give your children your full attention and when they are likely to be receptive to what you have to say. Avoid having the conversation right before bedtime or during times of high stress, as this may lead to more anxiety and confusion.


Understanding children’s perspectives

Children of different ages will have varying levels of understanding and emotional responses to cancer. Younger children may have more basic questions about what cancer is and how it affects the body. It’s important to answer these questions simply and honestly, without overwhelming them with too much detail. Older children may be more aware of the implications of a cancer diagnosis and may ask more complex questions about treatment, prognosis, and the future. In either case, it’s essential to tailor your explanations to your child’s age and level of understanding, finding a balance between providing enough information to satisfy their curiosity and avoiding information that might be too much for them to process.

  • Use simple language: When explaining cancer to children, use clear and simple language that is appropriate for their age. Avoid using medical jargon that may confuse them.
  • Encourage questions: Let your children know that it’s okay to ask questions about cancer. Encourage them to express their feelings and concerns.
  • It’s OK not to know all the answers: If your child asks a question, you don’t know the answer to, it’s perfectly okay to say, “I don’t know, but I will find out and let you know.” It’s important for children to understand that adults don’t have all the answers, and that it’s okay to seek information when needed.
  • Reassure them: Children may worry about the future and what will happen to their loved one. Reassure them that the doctors and caregivers are doing everything they can to help.


Tips to calm their fears

It’s natural for children to feel anxious and uncertain when a family member has cancer. To help them feel reassured, it’s important to maintain a sense of normalcy as much as possible. Stick to regular routines and activities that your children enjoy. In addition, make time for regular check-ins throughout the cancer journey – before diagnosis, during treatment, and after. These consistent conversations provide a safe space for your children to express their fears, ask questions, and process their emotions. Knowing they have your undivided attention and a dedicated time to talk can be a tremendous source of comfort. Encourage them to share their feelings openly, and listen without judgment, letting them know it’s okay to feel scared, sad, or confused. Reassure them of your unwavering love and support, no matter what happens.


Supporting children through a loved one’s cancer journey

Talking to your kids about cancer is never easy, but it’s an important step in helping them understand and cope with the situation. By being honest, open, and supportive, you can help your children feel more secure and better able to cope with the challenges that come with having a loved one with cancer.

Remember, you are not alone. There are many resources available to help you navigate this difficult time and support your family through the cancer journey.


Cancer Care for Carrum Health members

If your employer offers the Carrum Health cancer care benefit and if you or a dependent has received a cancer diagnosis or if test results indicate the possibility of cancer, contact us today. We’ll connect you with one of the leading cancer centers in the country and provide step-by-step guidance throughout your cancer journey.

Your Carrum Health benefit includes a complimentary second opinion and a personalized care plan from one of the nation’s premier cancer care centers. This service comes at no cost to you and can often be completed virtually, from the comfort of your own home.

After you receive your second opinion, you’ll also have access to virtual support from expert oncology nurses. These highly trained nurses are available to answer cancer-related questions and provide ongoing assistance for up to two years, offering valuable support beyond your initial diagnosis.

For more information, watch our video. And to see if the Carrum Health cancer care benefit is available to you, check your eligibility.


The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only. No material is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

How Carrum Health Can Help
Carrum Health is a unique benefit that connects employees with the country’s top surgeons and cancer specialists to receive high-quality care at a far lower cost. Find out if the Carrum Health benefit is available to you.