Many people with cancer are cured or live with their cancer for many years. Even when a cancer is advanced, people may sometimes live with it for a long time.
If your cancer has come back or isn’t getting better, your children will know and sense that things have changed. It’s important to tell them what’s going on.
It can be helpful to first ask the child what they understand about what’s been happening. From this starting point, you can gently correct any misunderstandings and gradually tell them about the current situation.
Give them step-by-step information about what’s happening. Tell them that the cancer has come back and you need more treatment to control it. Reassure them that you and your doctors will be doing everything possible to keep it under control. Try to be honest but still offer hope.
If treatment is no longer controlling the cancer, you’ll need to tell them that you’re going to get more poorly. Children also need to know that it’s okay to talk about you not getting better. They might try to protect you by not talking, so it’s important to let them know they don’t have to do this. Children often have worries about who will care for them if you’re no longer there. It can help to talk to them about this and reassure them that they’ll always be cared for.