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Telling Your Children You Have Cancer

Telling Your Children You Have Cancer

Once the fear of the cancer diagnosis subsides, the telling begins. I told my mother and my husband right away, but I kept it for myself a little longer. I didn’t tell friends or even family at first. My excuse was that I didn’t know the staging yet. I wanted to know how severe the treatment would be before I worried others.

I was having so many appointments I wanted to tell my boys yet I didn’t know how. Tragically, we had lost a family friend to stage four breast cancer the year before. I knew my boys would be scared if I told them I had cancer. How do you tell your children you are sick?

Finding the strength to tell my children

My boys knew I was having surgery when I had my biopsy. They could see the lump on my neck, so I explained the surgeon needed to remove it. The biopsy revealed that I have Hodgkin lymphoma. Once we knew that we had to wait for the scan to reveal staging. We decided to tell them after my scan.

From the minute my diagnosis came I was vigilant in my research about my cancer. I wanted to know everything I could possibly know. Of course, the doctors had warned me against Google. Too many answers can be overwhelming.

I am grateful that my staging is favorable. We could fight this and that gave me the strength to tell my sons. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to share a grim diagnosis.

Laying out my treatment plan

We sat down for a family dinner one night. I laid out my diagnosis and the plan to fight my cancer. I told my boys I have Hodgkin lymphoma. I told them it is a treatable cancer. I told them I would have chemotherapy and radiation. I told them the next few months would be hard, but I would get well. I told them with all the confidence I could muster.

They asked me if I would die like our friend. I said it was a different cancer. I assured them I would be okay. They asked me if I would lose my hair. I said I probably would. I let them ask me questions and I tried my best to answer them. I choked back tears.

Children are the strong ones

I knew in this moment I had to be strong for my sons. I could not let them see my fear. I steadied myself. After the last question was asked, just like that they moved on. The conversation continued to play dates and school. Children are the strong ones. If we give them the chance they are the steel that holds us up in the hard times.

On the days when my chemo is making me feel weak or sick, I think about my boys. They give me strength. I know that my fight is for them. My health and wellness is my goal so that I can again enjoy the moments of this life with my steely ones.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Ann Harper moderator
    9 months ago

    Children are amazing. Its wonderful they give you strength. Good luck to you. Please keep us informed of your progress.

  • Carole McCue
    9 months ago

    I can identify with your feelings as telling my son that I had Non-Hodgkins was the hardest thing I ever had to go.
    Wishing you continued good health.

  • Nichola75
    9 months ago

    Hi Amber, like you it is one of my biggest fears. You sound like you handled it amazingly even though it was such a hard thing to do. Your children sound wonderful as well and a credit to you. I took a lot from reading this. I’m currently on watch and wait for follicular lymphoma. I initially told the girls about radiation and zapping cells but because we though it was localised I didn’t go any frothed. However now I’m otjer parts of body and waiting. I hope when the time comes I can muster the strength that you did at such a difficult time. Thanks so much for sharing xxx

  • bluchs
    9 months ago

    My children are all grown.
    45, 43 and 39 years old.
    So, I of course told them right away.
    I am not sure what I would have done, if they were children?
    But, In my opinion, they need to know, how and when to tell them, must be up to the parents though.

  • hammosa
    9 months ago

    Amber, thank you for your share. Yes telling our children is probably one of the hardest things to do. It is great that you did all your research and had a plan already mapped out prior to telling them. It is also a great thing that your is very treatable. Prayer for you and your family as you begin your journey 💚

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