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Impact on kids

SoozSooz Epping, NSWMember Posts: 19
edited March 2019 in Newly diagnosed
Hi everyone, I'm currently in week 5 of radiotherapy. My 8 year old daughter is struggling with my diagnosis and is showing signs of anxiety, lashing out a lot. She admitted she is worried about me and I asked her to tell me what she understands about what I'm going through and I think us talking about that helped. Me and hubby have told her the radiotherapy is killing any cancer that might still be there and she seemed happy with that..However she won't tell any of her friends and doesn't want to talk to any teachers or councillors. Does anyone have any tips on where to go from here or what to say to her to open up? I haven't been able to take her anywhere to do something nice as I broke my leg and cant drive. Thanks 


  • ArtferretArtferret MelbourneMember Posts: 258
    I think all you can do is be there for her, answering any of her questions and giving her lots of hugs. When she's ready she'll tell her friends...or not, i think that's up to her. I gather her teacher knows  so he/she can keep a quiet eye on her. Although my daughters are a lot older my eldest accepted it at face value whereas my younger daughter locked it away. Everyone deals with it differently. As for taking her somewhere, until you can, sit down with her and plan it together to make it a special day. Cathxx
  • kmakmkmakm MelbourneMember Posts: 7,973
    Hi @Sooz. My experience is that kids only take in what they can understand. And sometimes they get hold of the wrong end of the stick. So repetition is the key.

    Conversation while walking or driving can be useful. No eye contact can encourage kids to ask what they may hesitate to if you're eyeballing them!

    I also found that I disappeared into my own head a lot of the time during treatment. As a result I presumed the kids knew and understood what was going on. Sometimes they did, sometimes they didn't. So checking in with everyone individually at various times is valuable.

    They do all respond individually, and so meeting their needs can be complex. Work through your options until you find one that works. Some kids might benefit from reading information; there are a lot of bpoks out there. Others might like to talk, maybe not to you! Others may only talk to you.

    My four are highly resistant to talking to counsellors. Two tried. One didn't like it and gave it up, the other has grudgingly persisted. She's 10. I tell her it's good to keep your options open to have someone outside the family to talk to.

    All the best, K xox
  • SisterSister Adelaide Hills, SAMember Posts: 4,941
    What @kmakm said... My kids were 11, 12 & 15 at diagnosis and they have grown up knowing that they never met their auntie, my sister, due to breast cancer so it was always going to be an issue for them.  I won't say we've not had anxiety problems but really, they've done pretty well.  We told them from the start, that we wouldn't keep secrets and that they would always be the first to know anything.  I also talked to them about the things other kids, and adults, might say such as "your Mum's going to die" and that they should tell me or their Dad if anything was said that worried them.  I have always been honest too, about how I'm feeling.  They have each at different times, asked me questions - as @kmakm says, usually in the car or while walking.  Remember that if your child gets the slightest wind that there could be secrets, she may build them up to be monsters.  I would also be inclined to advise her teacher, it someone at school.  You can tell her that such and such needs to know in case she needs to talk to someone, but you can instruct that person not to bring it up with your daughter.
  • Patti JPatti J Member, Dragonfly Posts: 589
    @Sooz. There is a very good graphic novel type booklet produced by BCNA for children  of people with Mets. I gave it to a little one who was nearly 9 at the time. She asked me if I  had people inside me having a party
    She did understand the booklet.
    I am not sure if there is a similar publication for early stage breast cancer

  • Riki_BCNARiki_BCNA Staff Posts: 323
    Hello @Sooz in addition to the great advice above, there is a Medikidz book aimed at 8-12 year olds that you may find helpful. See link below ( in the more information section). 
    A psychologist if available at your treating centre may also be a very useful resource to talk about strategies for young children. 
  • Milly21Milly21 Member Posts: 111
    I finished treatment a couple of years ago my children were 13 and 14 ,daughter 13 ,we have always been very close,and because I struggled so much with diagnosis i found it hard to talk about,of course I told them about it and treatment but I probably should have discussed more looking back as I tried to put on positivity all the time,but they knew things were different.people in the street came up concerned a hugging me and stuff like that so it was obviously something wrong,she would have noticed.I finished treatment in the March and realised my daughter was struggling and anxious .anyway I think looking back I wish I had discussed it more openly with her,although at time I was just struggling to keep myself going.in last year an a half as she got older she has asked me questions and made comments that made me realise she was struggling too during that time,thankfully she seems well now and happy,it’s such a hard time and knowing what’s best,xxxx best wishes.
  • SoozSooz Epping, NSWMember Posts: 19
    Thanks so much for the advice. I have been honest with her - once we knew I didn't need chemo we told her I had cancer. She has agreed that I can tell her teacher and a nurse today told me to tell her to write her feelings down so she liked that idea. Baby steps! Thanks again

  • SisterSister Adelaide Hills, SAMember Posts: 4,941
    It will be baby steps but so important that she feels she's with you through this rather than shut out.  I have been amazed at the support my kids have given me.
  • ArtferretArtferret MelbourneMember Posts: 258
    So glad your daughter agreed to her teacher knowing what was happening.  Being a teacher myself you notice when a child's behaviour changes suddenly and the first thing you think is what's happened at home. As i said before they will be able to keep a quiet eye on her and give her the support and understanding she needs in her school environment.
  • StarGirlStarGirl Member Posts: 118
    This seems not to be a popular move but my children are 7 and 9. Told them nothing. Did chemo, surgery and radiotherapy and they didn’t notice so no stress for them. I honestly don’t understand why people tell kids.
  • kmakmkmakm MelbourneMember Posts: 7,973
    I have no idea how you managed that! But if it worked for your family and you, it's not really anyone elses' business. Well done for following through and being true to yourself. K xox
  • StarGirlStarGirl Member Posts: 118
    Thanks @kmakm, maybe mine are just especially self-absorbed 🤣. They were so young when I was diagnosed and started chemo - only 3 and 5 - so we just didn’t say anything and made sure their routine stayed the same. They were older for the surgery and radiotherapy but we just pass off hospital visits as work trips and do everything possible during school hours. No one at their school knows, so no dramas. 
  • kmakmkmakm MelbourneMember Posts: 7,973
    @StarGirl I can see their young ages helping with keeping it hidden, but still, amazing!
  • SoozSooz Epping, NSWMember Posts: 19
    @StarGirl my 3 year old knows I had surgery and that's all. I am a useless liar and I felt like I wouldn't be able to hide the truth from my 8 year old. She would just want to know why I was so stressed. I get what you are saying completely but for me it was the right thing to do...I think :) 
  • StarGirlStarGirl Member Posts: 118
    @Sooz oh of course! This is such an individual journey, you should always do what you feel is right for yourself and your loved ones 💕
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