- Question from kellie: My little girl says that she understands that I am sick, but I am not sure. I am afraid that she has some misunderstandings. How can I tell what she really understands?
- Answers - Joan Hermann The most obvious first step is to try and get the child to tell you what she thinks is going on. You might say something like, "You know, we talked about my having breast cancer. I told you what was going to be happening, but I wonder what you think about all of that. It's important for me to know if you're worried or if there's something you're scared to ask me about. I will always tell you the truth, no matter what your questions are. I will always explain it to you."
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. You can also say, "If you ask something I don't know, I will try to find the answer for you."
- Joan Hermann Depending on the age of the child, you might want to say, "Sometimes kids are afraid to ask about something that really bothers them, but it's important for me to know what you think, so I can be sure that you understand what's going on. And nothing's too scary to talk about." Find out their thoughts and fears—Try to get your children to tell you what they think might happen. Try asking, "Do you ever worry that the treatment might not be helpful?" This way, you have some sense about your children's understanding of the situation and what kind of reassurance they need.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Kids and Mom's Breast Cancer featured Joan Hermann, L.S.W. and moderator Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about talking to your kids about breast cancer.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in August 2000.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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