SUPPORTING YOUR CHILDREN
Helping your children to understand a cancer diagnosis
It may be distressing and difficult to tell your children about a cancer diagnosis. However, it is your choice if you tell your children about the diagnosis and treatment or not. When and where you tell them can be as important as what you tell them.
Make sure that you have time to tell them, allow for questions and then make sure they have understood what you have said. Let them know they can ask questions but there is a good time to ask them e.g. at home, not in the school playground. It is important they know whom they can talk to about anything you tell them e.g you/grandparents/ teachers/friends.
It may also be helpful to inform their nursery or school if appropriate, in case they notice any behavioural or mood changes and thus know what this may be related to so they can adjust the support they offer your child.
Children under 6
The Invisible String by Patrice Karst
Invisible String is the perfect tool for coping with all kinds of separation anxiety, loss, and grief. In this relatable and reassuring contemporary classic, a mother tells her two children that they're all connected by an invisible string.
Only One Of Me by Lisa Wells
The Only One of Me project grew from Lisa's determination to leave a lasting legacy for her daughters and her desire to help other families rally against the difficulties of loss.
The Secret C-Julie Stokes
The Secret C: Straight Talking About Cancer aims to support families with this task and uses illustrations and straightforward language to give a basic explanation of what cancer is, the treatments involved, and how it might affect the person living with cancer. Feelings are also addressed and reassured. The book also reinforces the importance of trying to keep as close to the usual family routines as possible and still being able to laugh and have fun. The book is aimed at children 7-10 years old.
The Invisible String by Patrice Karst
The perfect tool for coping with all kinds of separation anxiety, loss, and grief. In this relatable and reassuring contemporary classic, a mother tells her two children that they're all connected by an invisible string.
Age 10 upwards
Age 10 upwards - For this age group, it is quite possible that your child could benefit from emotional support such as counselling, art/creative therapy which is available at a variety of cancer care and day hospice settings. If you would like us to look into this in more detail for you as to what is available in your locality then get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support suggestions for a specific diagnosis
Breast Cancer - Mummy’s Lump
Mummy’s Lump is the UK’s first-ever book to help young children whose mums have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Author Gillian Forrest, Consultant Child Psychiatrist and Senior Research Fellow at Oxford University, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1990 when her children were five and seven, said: 'Even though I am an experienced child psychiatrist, I was very unsure how to talk to my children about my diagnosis. Nobody asked if I had any problems with explaining what was happening to my children, everything was focused on my condition'.
To help other parents facing the problem Gillian decided to write a book which would explain what their mum was going through. Mummy’s Lump follows Elly and Jack as they learn of their mother’s diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer. It has the look and feel of a classic children's storybook, with illustrations by Sarah Garson. Book aimed at the under-sixes.
Myeloma and Stem - Cell treatment-Kelsey and The Yellow kite (Myeloma UK)
This book has been written to help explain what myeloma is to children. Kelsey and the Yellow Kite tells the story of a little girl called Kelsey whose dad gets myeloma. It explains what myeloma is in very simple terms and is beautifully illustrated by illustrator Christine Battuz. Age 7+.