It’s a Dastardly Deed

It’s a dastardly deed. Telling your children about a cancer diagnosis.

There is simply no easy way to do it.

I chose to hold on to my diagnosis until I knew where I was heading. That way I could give them a truthful conversation – as far as I knew, to that point. The biggest drawback about that is, you have had time to acclimatise to this earth-shattering news and so you must strip back a few layers of your feelings to be in a space for theirs.

The all-consuming panic in the early days and weeks wasn’t something I wanted to pass on to them. Let me state at this point, that I am supremely grateful I indeed did have that option to wait when others haven’t had any time at all. 

It adds another layer of parenting for sure.

Talking about it in posts like this and in the way that many charities do is the biggest help and comfort to people going through the same. It was highlighted in March by Catherine, Princess of Wales. Nobody envied them that task.

I leaned into Maggie’s Oxford several times during this time. If you haven’t found your local Maggie’s you can do so HERE and whether you have children to speak to or not, I would advise you to visit them for your support and that of your friends and family.

Let’s front this out. No matter how level you are, your mind will sprint at top speed to the worst-case scenario. As a single mother of two amazing children, I didn’t know what this would mean for them. From that place, you have to put your hand on your collar and haul yourself back from the darkest place to be able to deal with it and hold them in a space to be able to process their emotions.

It keeps you awake at 4am…

It's a dastardly deed

One thing I can say at this point. No matter what your diagnosis, the way you impart this news to your children will last them a lifetime. Choosing how and when to do it is vital if you have the time to make a choice. I didn’t want to derail them any more than was going to happen anyway.

I’ve been in business for myself since the day I left school. I’ve learnt to remove the drama from situations when there has been cause for panic rising. My approach was laughable now, but I almost held a mini board meeting! 

I had the full picture, I was confident in my treatment plan, it was going to be a tough haul, and I didn’t expect them to have the responsibility of looking after me (I had some insanely fabulous friends and they were too young). I would always be truthful to them if they would be truthful to me and ask questions that were troubling them.

It is one of the most difficult things I have had to do in my life, but we were (and still are) a great team.

It worked. We were able to move to the next stage. The questions came and I answered them. 

However you choose to deal with this situation, it has to be your way. Check-in with yourself to see what feels right for you and them. Don’t feel pressured to tell them straight away if you need the space to gather yourself. It’s part of the reason I wrote 365 Days of Cancers daily messaging service – to support other people going through such a rotten time in their lives.

I have already stated – the way you tell them will impact how they cope and will affect them moving forward. It’s a dastardly deed. Telling your children about a cancer diagnosis. There is simply no easy way to do it.