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How to talk to your kids about cancer

Health By Esther Muchene

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Cancer is an unfortunate condition that no one would wish to have. It can be emotionally and physically overwhelming from the point of diagnosis to the treatments. To date, many people don’t have full awareness of what cancer is, how the symptoms affect the patient and how the treatments work.

When it comes to kids especially, most of them barely understand what it means to have cancer. They are not aware of how someone’s life changes once they are ill. For some who have heard of it, there is still not enough awareness of other aspects to it such as myths surrounding it.

Because of this, it’s important that parents find a way to talk to their kids about the illness in case someone has been diagnosed, including the kids themselves.

Below are some helpful pointers to get you started.

i. Plan what you’ll say

Talking about cancer is not easy. Before you approach your kids, it’s better to prepare what you’ll say beforehand and how you’ll say it. If you ambush them with such heavy and sensitive information, they might not fully understand what you are trying to say. You might also leave out some important details concerning the same. Depending on how old your child is, prepare age-appropriate ways to discuss it with them, in a way that they’ll understand.

ii. Good timing

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When it comes to talking about the illness, timing is everything. The topic requires you to be in the right head space so that you’ll approach everything calmly. Avoid talking to them about it when they are distracted by other things. If they are busy with exams at school or an important event, choose a more appropriate time. Select a time when there are no distractions so that you’ll both be able to understand each other and absorb the news properly.

iii. Use simple language

Finding a way to talk to your children in a manner that they’ll understand is challenging. Younger kids especially, might not be capable of absorbing the magnitude of the illness at that time. Because of this, it’s best to be simple and direct without getting into too many details. Being simple in your explanation will create groundwork for communication between you and them. They’ll be able to ask you questions and say how they truly feel about it.

iv. Use assistive tools

In this age of technology, things have become easier. We have access to thousands of videos, blogs, eBooks and other assistive tools to help you. Websites such as cancer research UK give you a wide range of online shops that deal with different types of cancers. Here, you’ll be able to find great assistive tools as a parent that wants to talk to their child about cancer. Look into them.

v. Be honest

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The best way to get your kids to understand cancer is being honest with them. When you beat around the bush, you’ll do more damage by giving them false hope. This is the best time to address some of the myths and assumptions about the illness so that they are not misinformed. Be as honest as possible when approaching the topic.

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