How to talk to your kids about cancer

Cancer can be scary, so some parents may avoid sharing their diagnosis with their kids to protect them. But research shows higher anxiety levels in children who aren’t informed of a parent’s condition.  Although talking about cancer can be hard, there are ways to ease the process. We spoke to Shelby Becka, a social work counselor at MD Anderson The Woodlands, for advice on telling your kids about your cancer diagnosis and treatment. Share your diagnosis before starting cancer treatment No matter their age, it’s never easy to tell your kids you have cancer. Becka suggests setting aside time with your immediate family and telling everyone together in your home or another private, comfortable space. Ideally, you should do this before you start treatment. “It’s hard to keep cancer a secret,” Becka says. “Your kids probably already know something’s wrong, so it’s best that they hear it from you.” Talk about how your treatment will affect their routine In the early days after your diagnosis, things may be more unsettled. So, it’s important to stick to a routine and let your kids know how your treatment will affect them. “Help them feel secure by telling them who’s going to pick them up from school or cooking dinner that night,” Becka says. Use the right language When talking with your kids, Becka recommends using the word “cancer,” so your kids don’t confuse your diagnosis with an illness that they could potentially catch, like the flu or a cold. You should also tell them what cancer is and where it is in your body. “For younger kids, you can say, ‘I have...