What to tell Children About Surgery to Remove Cancer - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 1 Old 12-30-2001, 04:38 AM - Thread Starter
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What to tell children about surgery to remove cancer?

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Author Topic: What to tell children about surgery to remove cancer?
Member posted 08-27-2001 08:17 AM
My SIL is a single mom with two children, 7 and 9. They recently watched a friends mother suffer and eventually die of cancer. SIL just found out she has cervical cancer. The chance is so good that she will recover fully with surgery, there seems to be no reason to alarm the kids. So, what should she tell them? They are very aware that something is going on, but she hasn't told them anything yet.

Member posted 08-27-2001 02:17 PM
i wouldn't mention cancer, or the severity of anything, until the chances of a full recovery are not so good. If SIL can pass it off as a big boo-boo, I think she should, but if there is a chance, eventually, that the cancer is too agressive, then they need to be told.
Sorry and ((((hugs))))

Member posted 08-27-2001 03:17 PM
I have to disagree. Secrets have a way of coming out an d that can scare the kids worse than mom telling them that she has a cancer, but that it is a ighly treatable and curable type and that she will need some surgery and possibly other things.
Best wishes to your SIL.


Member posted 08-27-2001 07:37 PM
personally, (of course ) i would not use the word cancer. the children are going to associate it with death now in a strong way and with this kind of strong association, talking about different kinds of cancer etc, won't stop them from being secretely constantly worried that mommy will die. my ds is seven and he has told me some of the things that go on in his head during stressful times, and it blows me away, how children think and how careful they can be to hide feelings or thoughts for some reason they have created. the children might not want to talk about how terrified they are becuase mommy is already sick, so they won't want to 'make her worse' or make her worry or etc.
i am very honest with my ds, always. i also believe in age appropriate communication. you can tell the children that mommy has a sickness in whatever words you want and that the doctor knows she will be fine etc. why use the one word that will change their entire perspective to the issue so negatively?
i just know how much grown ups worry even when we are told everything is fine, and we have access to coping mechanisms and meeting our needs that kids don't yet.
this way the kids understand tension in the house, or mommy being preoccupied, etc, because she has a big owie inside her and she has to get it fixed. they won't feel angry or scared because they have information.

Member posted 08-29-2001 07:09 PM
I feel personally that honesty is the best policy when there is such a potentially stressful situation. I am not telling you whether to use the word cancer or not but I will just share my own experience and you decide. You know the children whereas we don't and each handle things differently.
My sister died of cancer 9 years ago and I never once sheltered my very young children from her battle and eventual death. It was hard to watch her shrink away to a bag of bones and grow old before our very eyes. She would cry out in pain at times when we were visiting her. But my children understood when I'd walk around the house in tears b/c they walked the journey with me and I never hid anything.

Now fast forward 9 years and I am diagnosed with cancer--the same adenocarcinoma just different location. Did it freak my kids out that they had watched their beloved auntie die and now their mama had it too? No. Have they been scared? At times. But we are so open and honest about it and they are witnessing someone who will not succumb to fear just b/c a cancer was found. We talk openly about what they are feeling,what I am feeling, what the prognosis is and how we rely on God for everything.

If I didn't tell them inevitably someone would spill the beans and they would find out maybe from someone else's kid who overheard someone talking not so discreetly yada yada yada.

I am living it so I just thought you may want to hear my two cents worth.

peace, moondancer

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