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cancer diagnosis - anyone decide NOT to tell their children?

(22 Posts)
ipsoblamange Sat 14-May-16 08:24:04

Diagnosed breast cancer on Thursday.

I don't want to tell my children

All the advice is to tell them (which I have read) anyone not done so willing to share their story and experience.

juneau Sat 14-May-16 08:28:37

Really sorry to hear of your diagnosis ipso. I hope you get treatment quickly and recover. Recovery rates generally for BC are very good.

How old are your DC? If they're little then you can probably get away with not telling them, but if they're tweens, teens or older how are you going to hide the tiredness, the possible hair loss, the time you'll need to be in hospital, etc?

ipsoblamange Sat 14-May-16 08:37:06

I might escape chemo (they say) but still testing my cells.

They are tweens

I work from home and I am self employed and so they don't know that I have had to stop my work.

I may only need an overnight in hospital. I go away for work from time to time

If my hair goes I would tell them or if they started to notice things then I would not lie to a direct question. But I don't want to blow their world apart, and my oldest child has mild asd and without going into detail this news would destroy him and tbh be exhausting for me dealing with the fall out.

Their gm died three years ago from breast cancer.

ipsoblamange Sat 14-May-16 08:39:28

If it becomes terminal I would tell them. I am hoping I can get it dealt with and if god forbid it came back they would be older/adult and better able to cope

gingeroots Sat 14-May-16 08:44:56

I've had cancer ( not breast ) lost hair ,major surgery . I did tell my older son but gave a watered down version .

With my elderly mother ,I gave a very watered down account - found a few dodgy cells ,a scrape etc .I wouldn't have told her at all really but I knew I was going to loose my hair .

So ,my situation not the same but I think it's possible not to tell the m and I completely understand your instinct .Don't feel presurised into telling them because that's what most people do .

Also ,of course ,you should look after yourself and this might be harder if you're having to deal with the emotions of your children in addition to your own .

Good luck and trust your instinct .

juneau Sat 14-May-16 08:57:19

Well it sounds like you don't have to tell them RIGHT NOW. I agree that dealing with other people's emotions can be very draining and if you feel you'd rather avoid it (at least until you know more yourself), that's completely understandable and I'd probably do the same myself. Given your work situation too it sounds like you should be able to hide it quite well (sleep and treatments during the day, for instance). Good luck flowers

wineoclockthanks Sat 14-May-16 08:59:23

I was diagnosed with breast cancer 2 1/2 years ago and we did tell our DS's (aged 11 and 6). Tbh, they had already guessed something was wrong and being able to voice their fears and ask any questions was important to them.

It's amazing how quickly they adapted though, I tried to be as well as possible when they were around and disrupt their lives as little as possible.

I'm on my way out so sorry to run but please come and find the tamoxigang thread in General Health, it's for anyone with any form of cancer and we are a friendly bunch smile.The thread(s) have been so important to me over the last few years.

chewingawasp Sat 14-May-16 09:14:25

Sorry to hear about your diagnosis. I am currently waiting to have tests (am expecting the worst) so this has been crossing my mind too. I have a DS with asd and acute anxiety who is just about to take gcses so I am holding off with saying anything for as long as possible. I guess that once treatment starts a discussion would need to be had as it would become more noticeable that something was going on. Good luck with everything.

mrsrhodgilbert Sat 14-May-16 10:00:41

Sorry about your diagnosis ipso. When I found out, exactly two years ago we made the decision not to tell our youngest DD (17) as she was about to sit her AS exams so kept it quiet for two weeks. It was hard though, but you know your children best. Obviously you'll have to tell them something. I didn't need chemo but was obviously unwell for a time, actually that's not quite accurate. I wasn't ever unwell but I was recovering from surgery for a while then visiting a hospital every day for three weeks to have radiotherapy. You'd need to come up with a story to cover that. Good luck with your test results and do pop over to the tamoxigang thread if you need info or support.

marmaladegranny Sat 14-May-16 10:11:55

You don't mention a partner - have you someone in place you can talk to about your diagnosis? Bottling it up/ dealing with it all on you own will be very hard.

if your DC are anything like my DD they will already know that something is going on - it is very hard to keep something from teen/twenties children as they can be very perceptive.

Indantherene Sat 14-May-16 10:43:10

Sorry to hear you are going through this. You know your own children and with asd it might be worth hanging on before telling them.

The only thing is they do know something is going on. We didn't tell our DD who was only just 4. She knew I was visiting hospital but no details. I moved office mid treatment and on my first day DH dropped me before taking her to nursery. She was upset because she thought the building was another hospital.

mumto2andnomore Sat 14-May-16 10:47:17

I'm sorry to hear about your diagnosis, I was diagnosed 3 years ago so understand how crap it is. I told dd as she was 13 but ds was 9 and just told him that i had a lump which needed to come out and would need treatment. I couldn't bring myself to say the word cancer to him and he still doesn't know. He is much more sensitive than dd and I don't want him to worry
I'm also on the tamoxigang thread, you'd be very welcome

ipsoblamange Sat 14-May-16 10:55:29

I know, but it is pros and cons and I think the cons outweigh the pros.

The day I got diagnosed I told them I was at a party hence the emergency nanny doing the after school run.

The dog definitely knows! he is sticking to me like glue and has sneaked into my bed (he is small and has little hair and so can get away with it more than most).

My instincts are screaming don't!! the older I get the more I trust them they are usually right for me.

ipsoblamange Sat 14-May-16 10:59:06

so nice of you all to post with your kind comments
hugs to you all
thanks for the welcome to the cancer club

ipsoblamange Sat 14-May-16 11:01:12

and I have a wonderful dh and ds (who have been holding both of my hands for the last ten days) bless them

mumto2andnomore Sat 14-May-16 11:29:28

I don't think there is any right or wrong, you just get through it the best you can. We've all found that it gets easier once you know exactly what you are dealing with and have a treatment plan. I hope you escape chemo but even that is doable xx

eurotrash Sat 14-May-16 11:38:27

I had cancer last year and ds was 4. I was very ill for nearly 6 months (multiple operations, chemo and radiotherapy and a fairly long recovery period after it all). It was worse I think at his age because it was very obvious I was very unwell and it frightened him to see me like that but I couldn't really explain to him what was wrong in away he would understand.

I wouldn't let anyone say cancer in front him because it was meaningless to him but as soon as he said 'my mummy has cancer' to anyone, I can just imagine their reaction and that would scare him more.

We talked a lot about mummy's poorly tummy and that the hospital was making me better. He would ask what would happen if the hospital couldn't make me better and we told him that they were but we would tell him straight away if I wasn't getting better.

The cancer charity at my hospital has family services and therapy for children but not as young as 4/5, think it starts about 7 but that would of helped I think.

I had a post treatment complication recently and was in hospital and recovering again for a month - it brought up ALOT of memories for him sad

Best of luck. Once you know your treatment regime you can mentally get stuck in and deal with it. The waiting before and after is harder xx

capsicumcat21 Sat 14-May-16 12:13:52

So sorry for your diagnosis flowers.

I was you two years ago and in retrospect I wish I'd handled the whole telling the children thing better. In my defence they'd gone through their Dad leaving us three months before hand and I was desperate to protect them from any more pain.

They were 9 and 13 at the time and I thought I could get away with not really telling them. Initially I thought I'd just have a lumpectomy and radiotherapy. I fully intended carrying on as normal (including carrying on working throughout. I think I was in a form of denial!).

Anyway I wish now I'd been more open from the outset as when I started with chemotherapy I had to tell them. My youngest wouldn't talk about it (but became uncharacteristically tearful at school) and would come out randomly with comments like 'does anyone ever survive cancer' sad which showed he was thinking about it but wouldn't talk to me or his Dad about it. My 13 year old in purely self centred teenagedom seemed totally non plussed (was more bothered about how it would affect his birthday plans etc etc). I think I probably won't find out how they really felt until they're adults when I'm sure I will be told I did it all wrong!

All i would say is children pick up more than you realise. If you try and hide it they will pick up there is something seriously wrong but be too frightened to ask about it.

As a positive two years on everything's great. I'm just about to go for a run(something I would never have done pre diagnosis) and I really do appreciate what I've got.

Mysillydog Sat 14-May-16 18:04:57

My dc are 12 and 15 and because I needed chemo and two surgeries I couldn't keep it from them. The 12 year old bottles things up and doesn't talk much to her friends, but I know it affected her because she failed a maths test in school shortly after. The 15 year old did discuss it with her friends and is better about talking about her feelings but she's in Y11 and taking her GCSE's so it has had a negative effect on her.

We made the decision to be up front with the children which was made easy because I was initially told that I had DCIS and only required a mastectomy and could get back to normality after that. We explained that DCIS cannot spread and is not associated with reduced survival. The histology report after the mastectomy which showed grade 3 IDC and positive nodes made for an uncomfortable conversation when we had to explain that my diagnosis had changed. That wasn't a great time because they felt that we had lied to them and weren't sure if they could trust us.

I know at least one MNer with an older teen who has not told her that she has cancer, but she's node negative and so has avoided chemo. With day surgery and rads it is possible to do this.

If you do need chemo I do recommend dropping an email to school to let them know. Secondary schools in particular can be large and impersonal so letting the form teacher know is very helpful.

ipsoblamange Sat 14-May-16 20:54:23

I hope to have the lump out in the next ten days and when I know the plan I will review things.
it is really helpful to have your insights.

thank you for taking the time to post, thinking of you all

hiccupgirl Sat 14-May-16 22:12:10

I haven't told DS now 6 that I had cancer last year. I told him I had to have an operation in my tummy and he came to visit me in hospital while I was in. I was lucky that it was just an operation but it was a long recovery which was trickier to explain.

I thought he was relatively unscathed but more recently he has asked questions about why I had to stay in hospital and told me how it scared him when he visited me.

You have to do what you feel is right for you. I couldn't use the word 'cancer' for my DS yet, but I think at some point I will have to tell him, particularly as my mum died from cancer when I was much younger and he should know when he's old enough to.

Klaptout Sat 14-May-16 22:48:07

Sorry you have this diagnosis.
I would say don't rush to tell them, once it's said you can't unsay iI.
Macmillan can offer advice on this stuff, they helped when my DH had a terminal brain tumour. We very much worked together on how to tell our three, they all have ASD.
Main points were
Don't rush to tell them
When they start asking questions, answer them, once they have processed that, they may ask more questions, only answer their question they ask.
Prepare answers for the next lot of questions.
There is a book about cancer and how to support children with ASD
It's written by a woman Dawn? Her surname is Broadhurst.
Send me a PM if you think I can help.

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