Explaining a CLL diagnosis can be difficult – and can be especially difficult for younger people to understand.
But you know those in your life best and you’ll understand their reactions and know what support they need.
Being honest, specific and using simple language is usually a good approach. What they’ll need to know and how they will react will depend on their age. Drawings or books may help younger children understand, while you may need to encourage teenagers to ask questions.
Tell them the name of your blood cancer and how it will be treated. Reassure them that nothing they did caused CLL and there will always be someone there to look after them. Asking open questions can encourage children to express their feelings and guide the conversation.
Consider who else needs to know. It may be useful for teachers, other parents or nursery staff to be aware of the situation. With teenagers, it’s usually best to talk this through with them first.
If you’re concerned about how your child is coping, ask your consultant, cancer nurse specialist or GP for advice about counselling or psychological services.
There are lots of organisations that are able to support you and a number of sources of information to offer you advice about how to explain cancer to children of different ages.
Some useful resources:
The Irish Cancer Society
The Irish Cancer Society have a booklet available on their website called “Talking to children about cancer” – Click Here to go to their website.