When I was diagnosed with the C-word the social worker at Yale said we should be as open and honest with the kids as possible. To make the word "Cancer" feel like an ordinary word that we throw around our house casually. Friends of theirs might hear that I have Cancer from parents and then speak to them about it at school, so they need to be strong and prepared.
The kids knew I was sick. I was tired, cranky and I could not read or sing to them at night. They had to stay at my friends house a bunch of times as I was in and out of the hospital, so obviously something was up. We never made a formal announcement to them. We just told them that mommy is sick because she has Cancer. And mommy will be fine soon, she just needs strong medicine to help her feel better. Even though we have had a lot of people in and out of our home, I have tried really hard to make our life feel as normal as possible. Naps help when they are in school.
My 11 year old son Lucas knew more about Cancer than Natalie (7) and Amelia (9). He immediately asked if I was going to loose all my hair and die. That was a hard conversation. I was about to go in for Chemo and felt like I did not have much hope (before magic pills became an option). I just held him really tight and said I might loose some hair but I am definitely not going to die. I will be fine, as mommy is strong and I have a lot to live for and I did not want him to be worried. Natalie and Amelia when they heard the news they were so sweet: "Mommy you need your rest" "Mommy can I bring you some water" "Mommy I love you" is what the girls always said to me. And lots of lemon paintings and lemon art they have been making me. lol
We had a winter break in the Florida Keys - all paid for and planned in February - that we had to cancel. I think the news that we could not go away was way worse than having the cancer speech with them. The kids had been crossing off on their calendars for which day we were leaving. We really needed this trip too. Thankfully the Drs gave us the ok, so we leave in 2 weeks for a much needed positive happy trip. The airline and hotel and car rental companies told us we would not loose any money since we had a legit reason. Yay!
The best thing I can recommend to anyone is to be open with the kids and share with them scary words, as it prepares them for the future. They can handle it. They are strong, and they want to know.
Love and light -