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.
Speaking their language
Children have different levels of understanding. Even you know them best, it can still be hard to know what information they need and which words to use. You can also speak to a member of your care team about how best to talk to your child about your cancer. Macmillan Cancer Support also has information about talking to children about cancer.
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. Our young people’s social workers can also give ideas and ways to explain and talk with your children.
You can order our storybooks for children free of charge, as well as browsing through other resources that might be helpful at this time.
Help with childcare
Family and friends may well rally round when it comes to childcare. Even so, it can be a juggling act. You might need someone to step in at short notice if you feel unwell, for example, or need help with the children on a longer basis if you have to spend time in hospital.
If you find yourself needing help with childcare, speak to your CLIC Sargent Young People’s Social Worker or Community Worker, they may be able to help you address the situation constructively and provide information on available support.
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.
Accessing financial support
The cost of childcare fees can be difficult to meet with the other financial pressures of cancer. There is help available. Benefits for parents lists all the financial support and employment rights you may be entitled to, as well as how to access them. Alternatively, have a look on your local council's website or visit gov.uk or nidirect.gov.uk for more information.
Caring for children can be tiring so it’s important to build in breaks in order to rest and recharge. It can feel particularly upsetting at this time but it’s no reflection on your commitment as a parent. You’re going through a tough time right now, and giving yourself some space can benefit you all later.
"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."
At the same time, when you feel up to it, you’ll find it can be nourishing to spend quality time with your children. Being reminded of their love and affection can give you a big boost and could help put your illness to the back of your mind.
- Look at organisations that could help you with parenting issues
- Access benefits and financial support
- Read about how cancer could affect your partner
Updated February 2017, next review due February 2018.