We’ve been very (VERY) lucky that nobody in our family has had to battle cancer.
(*Knocks on every piece of wood in her house*)
There have been others we know — or know through others — who have been diagnosed with cancer. A good friend of mine has Thyroid cancer, but I haven’t shared that with my kids because (She’s kicking its ass, and) I don’t want to burden them unnecessarily. Others we know here in our small town have been battling cancer and one little boy lost his fight, which brought the conversation into the open.
As we’re not the ones in the trenches of the cancer fight, I’ve relied on those who are to know how best to talk about it with my kids.
1. Cancer is not contagious. Until recently, the only sickness my kids have known is of the clod and flu variety. When they first started hearing about cancer they worried that they could “catch it.” I assured them that they couldn’t.
2. Cancer does not equal dying. In some instances, it does, but a diagnosis doesn’t mean the person diagnosed will die in the near future. It might mean that they fight cancer and they WIN. I’ve been able to share stories of people my kids know who have battled cancer and have been in remission for a very long time.
3. It’s okay to share what you know. One friend of ours has a family member battling cancer and she told me that she loves that so many of us share what we know, because it saves her having to tell the same update to thirty different people.
4. People with cancer need your love. That love can be with words of love, or with showing up with dinner. Nobody likes to ask for help, but I love that our community rallies around anyone battling cancer. There are fundraisers and meal deliveries and people who will sit and talk. Or listen. Or just be.
5. It’s okay to be sad. As I mentioned above, we know of one boy who lost his life to cancer. It’s dumb and it’s unfair and it’s okay to mourn the loss of a young life. While we didn’t know this boy personally, we know people who did, and we mourn with them.
Has cancer reared its ugly head in your life? How do you talk to your kids about it?