Telling Kyle and Leo
20 Sep 2013
This was never going to be easy, in fact other than waiting for the big test results to come back this has been the hardest part so far. We took advice from publications on the Macmillan Cancer website and also from Minnie and Dave’s book. Kyle is 11 and has recently started high school and Leo is 9. Luckily they are both reasonably intelligent, laid back boys so we were hopeful they would understand and take the news in their stride.
Firstly we waited until the big scan results were back so that we had a clear picture of exactly what we were facing and secondly we waited until the weekend so that they had a bit of time to digest the news. We started by telling them that I had found a lump in my boob and had been to the hospital to get it checked out. We said that the Doctors had done some tests and told me that the lump wasn’t supposed to be there and that they would need to get rid of it. At this point we mentioned the word “cancer” and Kyle flinched.
Leo didn’t bat an eyelid but those of you that know Leo will know that he probably just wasn’t paying attention and was wondering how long this was going to take as he was eying his lego up! We reassured them that although the lump was cancer it wasn’t making me ill but that I would need treatment to help get rid of it and it was this treatment that would possibly make me poorly. We were honest with them and told them that I would need surgery in hospital to remove my boob but I’d get a new one and we told them about the fact that my hair would fall out.
Whilst we were quite honest about everything from the start we were also quite matter of fact about it in an attempt not to worry them too much. We joked about the fact that I would be getting a wig and they demanded that I get a purple Hit Girl wig.
Leo decided his lego was much more interesting at this point and wandered off but Kyle was quite interested in what had happened to me so far so we answered his questions about the various tests I had been put through and later on he asked to see pictures of the machines that they used to carry out the tests.
Simon explained the clever science bits behind the cancer and he was OK with this too as he had been learning about cells in school. We were careful to reassure them that with a bit of luck life would go on as normal. I’d still be taking them to and from school and they could still do their activities. We told them certain things might change in that Grandma and Grandpa might be picking them up from school more often especially when I am having treatment, there might be times when I am poorly and they would need to help Simon out, we might not be able to go as far away on holiday if at all depending on when treatment is around half term and we also said they would need to make sure they washed their hands after using the toilet, they are boys, they don’t do washing hands, this is a problem in our house!
They seemed quite unfazed by what we had told them and as they went about their Friday evening we simply left them to digest the news. Throughout the weekend we kept asking them if they had any questions or concerns and both boys seemed fine.
So all in all they took the news remarkably well. I work in the school that my youngest goes to so all of the staff were fully aware by this point if what was happening but I did make a point of telling his teachers not to be frightened to tell me if there were any problems with Leo, I didn’t want them to worry that I had enough of my plate and not bother me and I know they will do this.
I also rang Kyle’s new school and spoke to the Pastoral Care teacher who promised to speak to all of the teachers Kyle has for his various lessons. His form teacher later rang me back and I had a chat with her again pointing out that I would appreciate her telling me if there any problems rather than worrying that she would be adding to my problems if she contacted me.
So that sums up how we told Kyle and Leo. I don’t think there is a right or a wrong way to tell children something like this. We decided to be honest and open as we felt that was right for us but we also thought they were old enough to handle it this way and luckily we were right as so far they have been fine with everything that has happened.
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