See what's happening in the Community

You are not logged in.   Log In

Meet the team

As well as sharing experiences with our friendly online community, registered members are able to contact our experienced online team. The Centre is staffed during office hours and the online team aim to reply within 24 hours.

Psychologists and experts from other Maggie's Centres and partner organisations also facilitate some group and individual sessions.

Picture of Parents with cancer


Parents with cancer

Conversations for anyone whose child (young or adult) has been affected by cancer

  • 10 conversations

Discussing illness with children

Started by Anonymous on 14 July 2017 at 10:32


I have three children ranging in ages 14 down to 11.  Their father found out just yesterday that he has a form of cancer (either leukemia or lymphoma - we hope to find out today which one).  We are struggling with the daunting task of when to tell the children and what exactly to tell them.

Does anyone have any advice they could share with us?

Many thanks in advance.



Comments (2)

latest | oldest

Displaying 2 comments

  • From Anonymous
    14 July 2017 at 12:23

    Dear Sue,


    Thank you so much for getting in touch.  We are in complete shock at the moment but hope, as you suggest, to feel we have more control and direction after the hospital appointment today.

    You are absolutely right - children do pick up on things very easily so I will take a look at the links you kindly included.  I am sure they will prove very useful and it is extremely heartening to know that there is someone at the end of the line in this forum.  I don't think the Leeds branch of Maggie's is up and running yet but will check.



  • Picture of SusieQ
    From SusieQ  
    14 July 2017 at 11:28

    Hello Joanna,

    News like a cancer diagnosis can feel overwhelming, and it sounds so recent that you and your husband will still be trying to get your heads round the situation yourselves. It will feel a little more in control once you both know the definitive diagnosis and have a treatment plan. At the moment it all may feel very daunting...

    It may be that you need a little time yourselves to absorb the news, before explaining things to the children. However, children soon pick up that things are not right, and that you're both anxious/quiet etc, particularly the age range of your family.

    Keeping them in the 'information loop' helps keep the children feeling involved, and it may be at this stage, it's more about explaining about tests and possible treatment at the moment, till you have more information.

    To help you, we have some useful links to various websites with information on how to talk to children about cancer, on Maggie's Cancerlinks. How should children be told that a parent has cancer? from the American Cancer Society's webpage gives some helpful tips.

    Given the age of your children, they may find the following websites helpful, if they need support or have questions (in this age of the internet, it's likely the 14 year old in particular may be googling for more information). Riprap is a website for teenagers who have a parent with a cancer diagnosis - and they can read up information, other teenagers' stories, advice and forums. Another good site is CanTeen (an australian website), which has a good section ' my parent has cancer', and information and resources.

    It's also worth letting the school know what's going on...particularly for the new term in September, as they can offer support and make allowances for any impact on studies and their own wellbeing.

    However, it's taking things a step at a time...and your priority will be hearing what the treatment plans are, and gently informing the children...

    I'm hoping others on here, reading this, will have advice and support for you too...I'll message you and introduce myself, so you can talk about any concerns on a one to one basis too...

    Warm wishes




Displaying 2 comments

Registered Office: Maggie's, The Stables, Western General Hospital, Crewe Road, Edinburgh EH4 2XU   Registered Charity Number: SC024414
The Maggie Keswick Jencks Cancer Caring Centres Trust is a company limited by guarantee   Company Number: SC162451