Your children are likely to have been affected by your diagnosis of cancer. They will probably be excited about the thought of your treatment finishing and being able to spend more time with you. It’s important to let them know that you might still feel tired or unwell now that treatment is over. This will help them understand if there are times when you are feeling too tired to play with them.
You may want to talk to your children about what’s happened to you. They probably have lots of questions. Answer their questions as honestly as possible in words they can understand. Children may worry about what your diagnosis means for them – whether they might also develop cancer. Teenagers may be particularly vulnerable – they may be worried about how you’re coping, as well as dealing with their own feelings.
Tips for helping children once treatment is over
- Continue to be open: Tell your children how you’re feeling now that treatment is over. Give simple, honest answers to their questions and correct any misunderstandings. Children respond well when they feel they are being given time especially for them.
- Make time: Your children probably missed you while you were having treatment, and spending time with you will help reassure them that everything is okay. If you’re feeling tired, find activities you can do while resting – like reading a book or doing a puzzle while sitting or lying down.
- Look for warning signs: Adolescents may have mixed emotions, loyalties and coping abilities. In some respects, they thrive on being regarded as an adult, but during times of illness in the family, it can be really hard for them. Be aware of this and look for signs that your child needs a little extra support and encouragement.
Useful resources for children about cancer
- CanTeen has developed a website called CanTeen Online, which provides information and support for young people who have a family member with cancer.
- Cancer Council NSW has developed a booklet called Talking to kids about cancer: a guide for people with cancer, their families and friends.