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when/what do i tell the children grandad has got cancer?

(16 Posts)
MigGril Fri 06-Jul-12 19:18:52

please be a upfront as possible. kids can handle more then you think. My parents tried to protect me from the truth to much when my mum had cancer, all it did was shatter my trust in them and make me scared as to what was to come next. I was in my late teens, I understand that they where trying to protect me but that didn't help.

Mummageddon1975 Sun 15-Jan-12 20:20:52

I think the whole issue of what to tell your kids and when is a really tricky one. My babies are 2 and 3. They're dads health is vulnerable and while I know this isn't an issue for them now, I really worry about the future and how I will protect them if and when things go wrong. Sorry no answers for you just have some understanding of what your going through.

CheeryCherry Tue 03-Jan-12 12:55:30

ShowofHands that is such a poignant tale, how dignified of your Grandad. Thanks for your advice. I seem to have gone from initial panic to a generally feeling that its all a bit unreal. Am trying to keep busy (though not sleeping) to keep my mind occupied. Thanks again.

I don't have any advice on top of what others have suggested, I just wanted to say I'm sorry you're going through this and that Fario and SOH's posts both brought me to tears

ShowOfHands Mon 02-Jan-12 10:29:10

My Mum had cancer last year and we waited until the dust had settled a bit before explaining to dd that she was unwell. We explained what cancer was in simple terms because dd was and is absolutely fascinated by the human body. We got her books out and looked at pictures of cells and talked about how the building blocks of the body sometimes struggle and how this can make you feel poorly. She really seemed to want to understand what was happening in a literal sense. When she'd grasped that we moved on to talking about what we could do. So Grandma would be tired so should we make her some food and then Grandma is a bit sad to be poorly so shall we make cards etc. Doing something helped dd as much as me. DD did ask if Grandma would get better and we simply told her that we didn't know but we hoped so. Thankfully, she did.

The most important thing for her was that she felt involved and like we'd explained it to her. When my Grandad had cancer (prostate incidentally and later lung cancer though the two were completely unrelated), I wasn't told. In fact I only found out when it was confirmed as terminal (the lung cancer, he recovered from the prostate cancer) and I was told briefly whilst travelling in the back of my parents' car to his house and it was very much 'look Grandad's dying but let's not mention it in front of him, eh?' I was confused, upset and scared. My brilliant, marvellous Grandad knew this and I will always believe him to be a giant of a man in my memories because he took me for a walk (he pretended he needed something from the shop iirc and wanted some company, we went nowhere near a shop) and was very frank with me. He told me he was happy, had a happy life and a lovely family and held my hand and said it was just his time. His honesty was invaluable and he handled it far better than anybody else did where his grandchildren were concerned.

I'm so sorry you're going through this. I remember well how I felt this time last year and how removed from reality you feel. Please keep talking on here. I found that MN and a few very wonderful MNers kept me sane throughout.

I honestly think that simple and straightforward truthful answers to questions are the best things you can offer to children at difficult times.

CheeryCherry Mon 02-Jan-12 10:11:00

Thank you farlo, that's good advice. Very kind of you.

Zacsbird Mon 02-Jan-12 00:44:17

Hi Cheery

He started having problems in 2002, loads of tests etc but no actual diagnosis until 2004. 73/74 at the time, he got the all clear on his 75th birthday. He had a small op and radiotherapy, managed reallly well, but our local hospital is really the best. It was upsetting and like your family we are not emotional or huggy, but we got through it.

I have to say Farios post is fab, wish I had had MN and her at the time.

FarloRigel Mon 02-Jan-12 00:15:51

Hi Cheery, first of all I'm really sorry to hear of your father's diagnosis and am really hoping it will be good news from here on. I don't know all the technical details but I do see a fair few prostate cancer patients as part of my job and they really can do a lot with prostate cancer now, not only the usual surgical/chemo/radiotherapy options but also hormone therapy can work wonders in some cases. Also, whilst some prostate cancers are aggressive, many are very slow growing and rumble on in the background for many, many years without necessarily shortening the person's life at all. I completely agree with not saying anything yet until you know what the prognosis is, as it may be really good and there may be no need to worry them at all.

If there does come a time where you do have a discussion about it, and I certainly would if treatment is needed or if (and I sincerely hope not) he turns out to be one of the unlucky ones who has a more aggressive disease, I can promise you that whilst it is upsetting, kids can cope amazingly well when it is approached in a calm way and they know they can ask loads of questions and they are being kept informed. The problem with saying nothing is that if they find out later you kept it from them for a long time, they may begin to wonder all the time if someone is ill and they are not being told, so I personally would tell them what's going on once you know.

A really helpful resource if you have one close enough to get to is a Maggie's Centre. If your local one is anything like ours, they will have some very well educated staff members and volunteers; ours has a couple of ex-cancer nurses employed there who are more than happy for families including kids to come in, get information leaflets and a cup of tea, a biscuit and a friendly chat about it all in a very non-threatening way. Ours also has counselling available for cancer patients or their families if needed.

I really hope all goes well for your Dad. Wishing you all the best.

CheeryCherry Sun 01-Jan-12 23:53:13

Zacsbird how old was your dad when he was diagnosed? I suppose I don't want to burden my DCs when they have such lovely lives at the moment. Yes I will not be mentioning it yet until we have a full picture. And may not even mention it then. Will wait and see I guess. Thank you Zacsbird.

Zacsbird Sun 01-Jan-12 23:43:46

Hi Cheery, sorry you are going through this. I agree with the other posters, don't say anything until you know a lot more.

Although I agree that the dc's can be a great comfort when needed it really is too soon to share this with them at the moment. My dad was diagnosed in 2004 and made a full recovery.

CheeryCherry Sun 01-Jan-12 23:13:25

Thank you Eglu. I think my head is just spinning really. Not sure I can cope with whats to come, whether I will be hold it together in front of my dad, my mum, my children. We are all so close, but not good at dicussing emotions - we tend to avoid all that! But I am scared I will do it all wrong, I don't want any regrets. Oh its all just a bit shit really! Thanks for listening.

Eglu Sun 01-Jan-12 21:54:06

Agree with Hassled, no point in telling them anything until you know what is happening.

I went through a similar thing with FIL, but we knew it was terminal, and also my DC were a lot younger.

Sorry your Dad is going through this.

CheeryCherry Sun 01-Jan-12 21:50:19

Sorry Hassled!

CheeryCherry Sun 01-Jan-12 21:49:28

Hassles thankyou. The Dr told him that whilst they're waiting for results, he didn't think they would treat it due to his age, other health issues. I know its a waiting game though. Just not ready for it all. Thanks for posting.

Hassled Sun 01-Jan-12 20:49:10

It's very early days and lots and lots of men make full recoveries from prostate cancer (my FIL, for example). I think wait and see for now, but they're old enough to understand and to be some support to you when you're going to need it. Wait till you know what treatment is being suggested and take it from there. I'm sorry you're going through this.

CheeryCherry Sun 01-Jan-12 20:46:34

Found out on boxing day my dad has prostrate cancer. He is so tired, so pale and feels generally unwell. He is waiting for more test results for prognosis information. My dc's are 14,13 and 11, I don't want to bog them down it all and worry them - especially as we don't know the full story yet. But I usually trust ny instincts on big decisions but am so unclear on this one. Don't want to leave it all too late but don't want them scared/worried. Anyone been there done this?

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