Talking to Kids about Cancer

Many different questions come to mind when dealing with a diagnosis of cancer, one usually being “what do I say to my children?”. This can come up when a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, sibling, etc. is diagnosed with cancer.

An open and honest conversation with children about how it will affect the family is important. Being open and honest will allow children to feel more safe and secure in expressing their emotions. Every child will react and process differently, but it is important to help them understand that their feelings are normal and they have you to be there with them throughout this journey.

Social Worker

Our oncology social worker is available to talk with you at any point during this journey. It may be helpful to practice what you intend to say to the children in your life before you tell them about your diagnosis.

Advice on Talking with Kids about Cancer

“Helping children and teens understand when a loved one has cancer” from CancerCare

  • Overview of Talking with Children and Teens about Cancer
  • Five Common Questions Kids Ask
  • How to Tell Your Kids
  • How Do Kids Respond
  • Six Basic Needs of Kids Whose Parent Has Cancer
  • Tools to Help Kids and Teens Cope
  • Questions for Our Panel of Experts

Camps for Kids

Camp Kesem is a nationwide community, driven by passionate college student leaders, that supports children through and beyond their parent’s cancer. Camp Kesem runs free camps across the country every summer for children ages 6 to 18. Camps are available in Seattle at the University of Washington and in Eugene at the University of Oregon.

Other Resources

CancerCare resources for helping children cope with cancer

CancerCare Fact Sheet: “Helping Children Understand Cancer: Talking to your kids about your diagnosis”