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How or do I not tell my grandchildren I have cancer

(22 Posts)
Sandie51 Fri 05-Apr-19 18:35:27

This is my first post but I know you offer great advice through experience and I hope you can help. I have been diagnosed with breast cancer and had a lumpectomy last Tuesday. My DH and I look after our 2 grandsons who are 9 and 12 yrs once a week and we have a lovely close relationship. My DS and Ddil haven’t told them as they are concerned understandably how they will manage the news. I have been told that my cancer is treatable and I should only need radiotherapy so my appearance shouldn’t change. Therefore do we keep it to ourselves?

Floradora9 Fri 05-Apr-19 18:40:13

do not tell the children just explain you are feeling a bit poorly and that they cannot give too big hugs at present. I had exactly the same and felt not too bad during radiotherapy but did get progressivly tired by the end of it . Children will let their imaginations go wild with too much information .

eazybee Fri 05-Apr-19 18:44:51

Yes, keep it to yourselves, and be guided by what their parents think is best. Why would you want to tell them?

Tell them you have been ill and have had an operation, but that you are getting better. If they hear that you have cancer they will fear that you are going to die.

You can discuss it more fully with them when they are older; there is no need to for them to know the details now.

DoraMarr Fri 05-Apr-19 18:45:17

No, tell them as much as they need to know. There’s a big mystique about cancer- you wouldn’t worry about telling them if you had another illness. Your cancer is treatable with radiotherapy, which is great. You will feel tired during and after RT so it would be good to let your grandchildren know that so that they understand they may need to be quiet and helpful, and you might not be as energetic as you usually are. Cancer can be frightening, but if we are open about it- an expert suggests using “I have a cancer” rather than I have cancer”- it makes it less scary, and maybe encourages more people to seek treatment early.
Good luck with your RT, I found it was fine, and I hope you are recovering nicely from your op.

Sandie51 Fri 05-Apr-19 18:46:25

I just wanted to add that we would agree with the gk’s parents on what we would say.

RillaofIngleside Fri 05-Apr-19 19:00:08

I agree, they don’t need to know yet. Just tell them that you have been a bit poorly and are feeling a bit tired, but that you will be okay soon. Children understand that. You can discuss it with them in more detail later on when you are feeling better, the treatment is over and when they are old enough to understand. It is easier to talk about when it is a memory further away anyway.

Buffybee Fri 05-Apr-19 19:08:40

Definitely, do not tell the Grandchildren.
I had cancer over 10 years ago when my Granddaughters were about 8 years old and I didn't think it right to tell them, in fact I still don't think they know now.
In any case the only people that I told were people very close to me, my Son, daughter, my ex (their Dad) and two friends who both lived abroad.
Incredibly no-one else knew or guessed, which is what I wanted.

Lily65 Fri 05-Apr-19 19:32:45

I'm so sorry if I am talking rubbish but is this your only outlet for this kind of conversation?

How about your doctor, your nurses, friends, family.?

DillytheGardener Fri 05-Apr-19 20:45:53

Lily 65, that is rather unkind. I don't think OP wants to tell her GC that she has cancer to unburden on them, but rather so if OP isn't feeling well, can't be hugged etc that they know why.

Children are more resilient than anyone gives them credit for. I would tell them you're unwell but will get better, but would love gentle cuddles from them both and time watching cartoons with them etc.

Children sense when things aren't quite right, easier to give them age appropriate information, than have them wonder why the adults don't seem their normal selves.

Sandie51 sending love and good wishes for swift recovery. Dilly flowers

CanadianGran Fri 05-Apr-19 21:24:51

I'm taking the opposing opinion that children of that age should be told, as long as the parents are ok with it. If they were very young I think they would not need to know, but they are 9 and 12. At this age they can pick up any tension in the family and sense that something is up.

You say you are close to them, so they must know you are unwell. An honest conversation in a quiet moment about serious illness, and the treatment and recovery involved will help them to be compassionate both towards you and the rest of the family as you all cope in the best way you can.

Sending strength and good wishes Sandie.

BlueBelle Fri 05-Apr-19 21:28:19

Why shouldn’t you write on here I m not sure why that was said by Lily
Like others I wouldn’t say anything at this stage it sounds as if it’s very positive and you will make a complete recovery (thankfully) and there is no reason they should be worried by it I think the difference is if someone has a terminal diagnosis then children should be part of the story as and when they ask otherwise the shock can be enormous

Lily65 Fri 05-Apr-19 21:49:49

I suppose I was saying, whilst I recognise this is worrying and sad....are there not better places to talk about this...Mcmillan and so on?

Family/ friends?

personally I would give GC minimum information.

Deedaa Fri 05-Apr-19 22:52:54

Lily65 I think the point is that we can talk here anonymously and there are people here with a whole range of experiences that may be helpful. I think telling them about serious illness is a bit like telling them about sex - answer their questions but don't pile in more than they need to know.

Lily65 Fri 05-Apr-19 23:03:45

Sorry for any offence caused. I do hope there are supportive people out there ready to help.

I would just say Granny doesn't feel so great....

Joelsnan Fri 05-Apr-19 23:14:33

I was told after I had mastectomy that I no longer had cancer and that subsequent chemo, radiotherapy and hormone therapy was just preventative. I would imagine that if your lumpectomy had clear margins that you too would be cancer free. Therefore depending on the children’s age it might might be easier to say that you had a small operation if you want to say ‘a cancerous lump’ or not, not it’s your prerogative but it’s now gone.
If you feel there is no real reason to involve them, I wouldn’t.

sodapop Sat 06-Apr-19 08:33:04

Hope everything goes well for you Sandie. I would just tell your grandchildren you are not well and having some treatment without going into any detail. The 12 year old may well realise what is wrong, in which case you should be honest with him You already have positive news that your cancer is treatable so make sure he understands that.
Good luck.

Missfoodlove Sat 06-Apr-19 09:37:52

I was 36 when I had a cancer diagnosis. My children were 5, 12 and 16.
Until the tumour was removed we didn’t know the prognosis.
I told the children I had a lump that had to be removed, I didn’t use the C word.
I wanted them to have a positive view of hospitals and surgery, they took it all in their stride.

Candelle Sat 06-Apr-19 09:47:53

I am of the 'don't keep secrets' tribe.

I don't think your grandchildren need to know all the details but do tell them that you are unwell, or have had an operation and may be a little poorly fora while.

The grandchildren, with this knowledge, can make allowances for you not springing around etc., and will give you all a little space for your recovery.

As another poster has mentioned, children do pick up on tensions within a family and could feel at a loss as to why you are 'different'. Be gentle but open with them and include them in this family situation.

Gonegirl Sat 06-Apr-19 09:52:23

I would go entirely with the way their parents wish it to be handled.

Sandie51 Sun 07-Apr-19 19:46:43

Hi all thank you so much for your valuable input. I do have lots of support from family, neighbours and friends so I am very lucky. I didn’t need to confide in them I suppose I was just thinking that so many cancers are treatable these days that it is not as scary as it used to be when I was a child. My GC’s know me so well, I am very active so they will notice any difference in energy levels not to mention the flowers and get well cards dotted about. We as a family have decided not to tell them but except to say I am a bit under the weather and on the mend. I am very grateful for all of your points of view.

Jobey68 Sun 07-Apr-19 20:02:11

Hi Sandie51, I’m sorry you have been diagnosed but I hope I can help reassure you a little, I was diagnosed just over 4 years ago, had a lumpectomy and radiotherapy and although I didn’t have any grandchildren at the time my treatment gave no outward signs that I had cancer and for the most part I felt well though out and we only told those who we felt needed to know.

You will be surprised how well you cope and your grandchildren will be a source of joy to you all the more so, I now have a much treasured 18 month old GD and cancer is a distant memory to us all, all the very best Xx

Sandie51 Mon 08-Apr-19 10:58:08

Hi Jobey 68 - thank you for your post. I am feeling very positive and your experience gives me a real boost. Thanks again.