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How to talk to little DD about a brain tumour?

(27 Posts)
UndertheCedartree Thu 23-Jan-20 21:36:14

I've just had a message from school that they are supporting a local little girl's family to raise money to send her to America as her brain tumour is inoperable in the UK. They are doing a non-uniform day (with non-compulsory donation £1) and the children can wear blue if they wish as the little girl's favourite colour. They are also having a cake sale. Obviously my heart goes out to this family and we will be contributing as much as we can...but I'm not sure how to talk to 7yr old DD about it without frightening her? Any advice?

Stabbitha Thu 23-Jan-20 21:38:35

Can you just explain she is poorly but needs a special type of doctor that is very far away

BernadetteRostankowskiWolowitz Thu 23-Jan-20 21:40:09

Hmm...I have a dd of 8. I would probably sit her down and say "you can wear blue tomorrow for Jenny....I know you know she is poorly, but she is more poorly than our doctors can manage so all the pounds are going to help to send her to someone who knows much more about her specific illness. You can't catch what she has, so please don't worry, but she probably needs everyone to help as much as possible so maybe we could bake cakes to sell or see if we can sell some 9ld toys to make some more money"

I'd then encourage her to ask me any questions she had at any point. If asked, I'd drill down into more detail - she has a poorly part of her brain.

I wouldnt get into tumours and what they are. Imo it's n9t necessary to go into that much detail.

okiedokieme Thu 23-Jan-20 21:48:41

At 7 I would tell her the truth, she's probably more knowledgeable than you think as she will have heard of other people with tumours/cancer. Explain there's a special dr there.

UndertheCedartree Thu 23-Jan-20 21:51:12

Thanks for the advice.

KittenVsBox Thu 23-Jan-20 21:52:54

It's amazing what kids can pick up on.
I really like Bernadette's approach, but think I would also mention very very occasionally a small part of the brain goes wrong, and the bit that is growing wrong is a tumour. Mainly because it is likely she will hear the words at school.
When my youngest was in a year group with a girl with leukemia it was all talked about (with her parents permission), and they all knew her blood wasnt working properly to fight coughs and colds. The words cancer, luekemia, white blood cells, transplant, chemo were all used.

UndertheCedartree Thu 23-Jan-20 21:54:29

I actually had cancer as a child and survived. But I remember a girl at my school who got leukemia and died and it upset me a lot. So perhaps I'm projecting a bit.

@BernadetteRostankowskiWolowitz - I like what you've written I will use that to speak to her about it.

tunnocksreturns2019 Thu 23-Jan-20 21:56:32

She probably won’t even ask for any info beyond what you are give her - raising money for a girl who is unwell to go to a hospital in another country. I reckon you’re overthinking it.

My DH died of brain cancer (when our DCs were 7 and 5 incidentally - some kids don’t get to swerve the hideous parts of life) and I read a heck of a lot of research papers. Please don’t imply that this little girl will get better if she has the treatment in the US. Brain tumours are immensely difficult to treat and there’s definitely no guarantee she’ll have a better outcome abroad. Though I very much hope she does.

tunnocksreturns2019 Thu 23-Jan-20 21:57:29

Ah cross post, totally see why you are thinking this way flowers

tunnocksreturns2019 Thu 23-Jan-20 21:58:41

I like Bernadette’s reply though I doubt the folk in the US know more than our UK brain surgeons tbh. They are world class.

mumtomaxwell Thu 23-Jan-20 21:59:23

Use the language of tumours/cancer and be honest. We had to explain our children that grandpa had cancer and chose to tell them the absolute truth and called it what it is. As others have said they’ll hear words like tumour and it will help if they understand them.

GetUpAgain Thu 23-Jan-20 22:00:17

You have had great advice, I just wanted to add to take care of yourself Underthecedartree, it may be quite a triggering experience for you. When you were a child you processed things as you went along and now you are dealing with it from a different perspective, don't underestimate if you need any support etc.

I had a childhood trauma that I see other people go through and it's an odd experience.

Most of all I hope the little girl comes through this. flowers

UndertheCedartree Thu 23-Jan-20 22:02:58

@tunnocksreturns2019 flowers I'm so sorry to hear about your husband. Reading between the lines I think there is hope she may live longer rather than be cured - although that would of course be wonderful.

Things haven't been great for my 2 for a couple of years so I do worry more about unsettling them as well as the other things I already stated.

Rainbowx Thu 23-Jan-20 22:05:06

OP u in essex if so thank you for supporting L x

UndertheCedartree Thu 23-Jan-20 22:06:04

@GetUpAgain - thank you for your kind words.

tunnocksreturns2019 Thu 23-Jan-20 22:06:25

Definitely light touch then. No need to say much unless they ask loads of questions, which they probably won’t.

BernadetteRostankowskiWolowitz Thu 23-Jan-20 22:07:03

I like Bernadette’s reply though I doubt the folk in the US know more than our UK brain surgeons tbh. They are world class

Fair point grin

But I suppose I wouldn't then want to get into the whole NHS/funding/issues around that.

UndertheCedartree Thu 23-Jan-20 22:08:17

@Rainbowx flowers

RhodaCamel Thu 23-Jan-20 22:14:39

This little girl is local to us too and I have donated. I hope and pray they can do something to help her. We lost our 4 year old niece to a horrific brain tumour. My ds was 6 at the time, dd only 3, we told them something similar to what Bernadette has suggested. Over the years (it was 8 years ago) we have told ds and dd more about her condition, making it age appropriate where we could.

Averyyounggrandmaofsix Thu 23-Jan-20 22:14:48

Small world on here sometimes. X

RB68 Thu 23-Jan-20 22:16:58

ITs about availability of treatments rather than them necessarily knowing more or being better surgeons - there is a long approval process here and if research happens in US treatments will be avail there before here

UndertheCedartree Thu 23-Jan-20 22:36:30

@RhodaCamel - I'm so sorry to hear about your niece flowers

FreakStar Thu 23-Jan-20 23:03:27

I work with year2 children at school and most of them would be able to understand what a brain tumour was if explained in simple terms they understand. You just need to say she has a lump growing inside her brain which is making her poorly and the doctors in America are going to try to take it out.

BrokenWing Thu 23-Jan-20 23:28:00

Be aware other children's parents or the teachers may have used the words cancer or tumour so she might hear them at school, or in the playground.

I would explain what the words mean, maybe something along the lines of - when you are ill with cancer it can cause a tumour, a tumour is like a little lump of cells in the wrong place, she has a lump in her head/brain and it is making her feel ill, but special medicine/treatment that can help.

ShinyGiratina Fri 24-Jan-20 00:08:37

DS was quite young when he asked what cancer was, and I explained it as the cells in your body have to grow and replace themselves. Occasionally the instructions get jumbled up and make mistakes and if they grow too quickly and out of control, that's a tumour.
It was a general question to a word he'd heard around rather than anyone specific that he knew personally.

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