NCCN Guidelines for Patients
: Caring for Adolescents and Young Adults
Part 7: Living your life
Talking with children
If you’re a parent, telling your children about your cancer
can be one of the most challenging things about the
disease. It may be tempting to put on a brave face and try
to protect them from the news—but this is almost always
a mistake. Kids are observant, and are likely to know that
something is wrong whether you tell them or not.
There’s plenty of information out there on how to talk
to children about cancer and help them cope with a
parent’s illness. The Web site Telling Kids About Cancer
/) offers a wealth of
age-appropriate tips and resources for parents. Key
Use age-appropriate language.
Be honest and accurate in describing your illness.
Call cancer by its name.
Reassure your child that the cancer is not
contagious and that he or she did not cause your
Explain what kind of treatment you will be receiving
and the side effects you may be experiencing.
Reassure your child that he or she will be taken
care of no matter what happens, and that you and
other family members are there to listen and to
answer any questions.
If you’re living on your own or caring for a family, juggling
home life and treatment can be a struggle. Staying on
top of things like laundry, cleaning the bathroom, or
grocery shopping gets a lot more difficult when you’re
also battling treatment side effects and trying to go to
school, maintain a job, and/or care for children.
This is an excellent time to take people at their word and
accept offers of help. Go ahead and delegate tasks that
you don’t feel up to doing. Most importantly, ask for help
when you need it.
If friends and family members want to rally to your
aid, suggest that they check out the My Lifeline
) or Lotsa Helping Hands (www.
lotsahelpinghands.com) Web sites. These free services
are designed to help friends and family organize
support efforts. They include features such as a help
calendar to schedule and sign up for specific support
activities (shopping, rides to medical appointments,
meal preparation, etc.) as well as a message board for