Discussing cancer with your children

26 Aug 2021

We had the pleasure of speaking with Lesley McPherson, a qualified counsellor and therapist who provides counselling for effective relationships, cancer support, anxiety and depression.

Children will process a cancer diagnosis in very different ways to adults, therefore we do need to proceed with caution, care and calm. Both parents and carers can implement different strategies to help children cope with a family’s cancer journey.

They are likely to experience a great deal of fear and confusion, as well as potentially anger. After all they are faced with the potential of losing a sibling, parent, or an adult in their life that they rely on for love, trust and support.

At times, there will be outbursts of difficult behaviour. Do your best not to scold them. Rather, let them express their emotions and realize that they are coming from a place of fear and confusion. Sit with them and let them know it is OK for them to feel this way.

It is also likely you may at times feel ill-equipped to cope with their emotions and thought processes adequately – and that is perfectly understandable. This is an extremely complex time for all. With that in mind, I would certainly seek out the advice of a professional counsellor or therapist, or someone who has been through a similar experience.

Trusted Resources

Talk to Kids About Cancer - Cancer Council

Fertility and Cancer - Cancer Council

How Cancer Affects Family Life - Cancer.Net

Impact of Diagnosis on Family and Friends - Australian Government Cancer Australia