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Children being affected by cancer

(6 Posts)
mckenzie Fri 05-Aug-11 18:13:54

What is the best way to tell the DCs that Grandad has cancer?
Any tips? Books to get?


Curlybrunette Fri 05-Aug-11 21:05:56

First of all I'm really sorry, I assume it's your dad/father in law. How are you?

Depends on the age of the children. If they are maybe 6 or under I would say something like "Grandad has got a poorly tummy/chest/head and the doctors are going to give him some medicine and/or an operation to try and make him better".

If they are older you can go into more detail, maybe mention that he may have radiotherapy or chemo that might make him look and feel poorly but is there to help him.

I wouldn't lie to them about any of the questions they might ask. If they ask if he could die don't immediately try and protect them by saying "oh no darling of course not".

Younger children take things a lot better than you think sometimes and don't have the maturity to realise the enormity of it all so don't be surprised if they ask 10 times in an hour if grandad is poorly and is going to die, or if you hear them playing a game where one is poorly grandad and the other is a doctor etc.


Sirzy Fri 05-Aug-11 21:52:00

How old are they?

I agree with Curly. Explain things in terms they will understand and then answer questions as they arise.

Do they see him a lot? If they are close to him I would (if he is happy) involve him in them being told, or let them see him soon after aswell.

mckenzie Fri 05-Aug-11 22:22:19

thanks for the replies. It's mother in law's partner rather than a blood relative but he has been their Grandad all of their lives and we see him every week. We all live quite close. The DCs go on days out with them during the holidays, they pick them up from school once a week etc etc.
At the moment, he's been told there will be surgery, radiology and chemo but we don't know yet in what order and when it will start (the cancer is in the oesophagus) but he should find out on monday.
They are 10 and 6. I'm all for being straight with them from the offset but just keeping to the basic facts and not making a big deal of it. Mother in law doesn't want them to be told but respects that we must do what we thinks is best and DH is undecided.
I've suggested that we wait until next week when he has a clearer picture of what will happen and when but then do like you have suggested and just keep it simple but factual. My sister has said to perhaps try not to use the actual 'cancer' word - what do you think? Just say he's unwell and having treatment and not give it a name?

When DH's Nan died two years ago the DCs were fab. We visited her constantly, right up until the last few days when she suddenly went down hill and they dealt with that really well. We cried together once I think but to tell the truth, they were more upset when the cat died. Was that because she was very old though maybe? (97)

Sorry, I'm waffling. DH's nan dying of old age is not really relevant is it?
Life's a bitch sometimes isn't it? I love this guy. He's just retired, their life was just getting really really good sad

crazycarol Fri 05-Aug-11 23:40:02

I agree with telling it in a way they will understand. If they don't hear it from you it is likely that they will hear it from someone else and wonder why you didn't tell them. I would go for telling them some basic facts but then say to them that if they have any questions then they could ask you. I think you will be surprised by them. They may want to know loads of facts or they may just want to know that he is ill but that the doctors are looking after him.
I have been through something similar but dd was a little older (13).

mckenzie Sat 06-Aug-11 13:59:19

thanks crazycarol. I hope I'll be able to answer their questions when they come. I looked on the NHS website yesterday and that's made things a bit clearer for me so hopefully that, together with anything Grandad or MIL tell me, will make it okay.

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