Your children

One of your biggest concerns after diagnosis may be how to tell your children. Talking to them about your cancer and treatment can feel daunting. 

You are likely to be coping with your own strong feelings and may need a bit of time before having that conversation. But it's a good idea to be as honest as possible and not leave it too long.

Children have different levels of understanding and, although you know them best, it can still be hard to know what information they need and which words to use.


If you aren't sure what to say, or how to say it, you can start by taking a look at one of CLIC Sargent's storybooks about cancer written especially for children. Although the stories are about children with cancer, they'll give you an idea of how things can be explained simply and clearly. Macmillan Cancer Support also have information about talking to children about cancer.

You can also speak to a member of your care team about how best to talk to your child about your cancer.

Sometimes I didn't want to go for my chemo. I would be too sick to play with Ryan and I was still getting up with Chloe in the nights. It was exhausting.

Who can help me with childcare?

Family and friends may do all they can to help you with childcare issues. It's always a good idea to have someone in place to have your children at short notice if you feel unwell unexpectedly. But sometimes your situation may change, for example you may need to go into hospital for a few weeks. If you find yourself in this situation, or need help with childcare, speak to a member of your care team.

If you have a CLIC Sargent Young People's Social Worker or Community Worker, they may be able to help you plan the care of your children, and tell you what support may be available. Alternatively, have a look on your local council's website or visit or (Northern Ireland) for more information.

By planning ahead as much as possible, you will feel more in control and have a greater say in who cares for your child when you can't.

Take a break

It's important you try to take breaks from caring for your children, as your treatment could make you feel tired and irritable. This can feel particularly upsetting at this time but don't feel that this is a failure on your part. Giving yourself some space may help you later.

On the other hand, it can be important to spend quality time with your children, when you feel up to it. This could help you feel better and put your illness to the back of your mind. Being reminded that your children love you can give you a big boost.

Go to the parenting page for information about organisations that could help you.

Content last reviewed: November 2015
Next planned review: 2016