9 responses to “Would you Tell Your Kids if You Had Cancer?”

  1. Jen Singer

    Wow, KC. Wow.

    My son once told me he didn’t want to know when I was having PET scans to make sure I was still in remission. (I’ve had 14 of them before I was “set free.”)

    So I didn’t tell him until after I got the results, which were good. He said, “I thought something was up.”

    I said, “So I can tell you from now on?”

    He replied, “Yeah, I know anyhow.”

  2. K.C. Bateman


    I asked him a few hours later if he is glad that I told him or if he would have preferred to not know. He said he is glad I told him, “I want to know how you died”

    It sounds quite morbid, but it just goes to show how accepting kids can be.


  3. Jen Singer

    It sounds like you followed your gut and it went as well as possible. I do believe that knowing the truth will help him understand as he grows up, and will help you, too, because the truth has been spoken. I’m rooting for you and everyone here.

  4. Bobby Blackwell

    I won’t hide things from my kids especially if they will notice it eventually. But of course, the approach would be different. :) Thank you for this.

  5. K.C. Bateman


    I just told my 6 yo son a couple days ago that I have a rare form of blood cancer. I have known about it since he was a baby. The opportunity to tell him about it came up and he is old enough now to understand. I didn’t use the word cancer. I said I have a problem with my blood that means I am more likely to have a problem with the blood flow to my heart and/or brain.

    His first question was not did he cause it…instead he asked me “do you want to die?” To which I answered no.
    His second question was “daddy..does this mean that I can will get this problem?” to which I also answered no.

    After telling him I feel a sense of relief, as I have wanted to tell him for a long time. I do feel bad for having to share bad news with him as I do not like to upset him. However, it went much better than I thought it would.

    I could write a tonne about this, but I just thought I would chime in.

  6. Jen Singer

    So glad you chimed in, Jim. Attention everyone: Read Jim’s book “Bobblehead Dad” to find out what he learned when he had cancer. Great book from a great dad.

  7. Jim

    Hi Jen,
    Here’s a dad joining in on your Momversation…

    Having “been there” and “done that” – perhaps my answer is already way too biased. When I was diagnosed, I had a child in grade school, one in junior high and one in high school. So, my answer is far simpler than someone with tiny kids.

    That said, I’m a believer in telling. Sharing. Cancer is a family disease. No matter how you slice it or dice it or hide it or ignore it…when one person has cancer, the entire family has it. I totally agree with your comments, Jen, in your video. What you share MUST be age-appropriate. “Daddy is sick. He has something inside his _________ that the doctors need to get rid of. Daddy’s going to have an operation and be in the hospital. I’ll have some stitches and will be sore. …..” It’s not something you can script out without knowing the details. But share, folks. Share.

    Also, give people roles in this. Tell your children what you need from them. My youngest son was my official hugger. He knew that his hugs were something I needed as part of my healing. And I can honestly say I LIVED for those hugs. It was a connection that he and I had. While it gave me strength, it also gave him a purpose. He knew he was one of my warriors helping me fight.

    One last bit of random thoughts….practice what you will say to your kids with a trusted adult. I know I have a tendency to say TOO much so I wish I would have given a little more thought as to know when to STOP talking with my kids and just let it all sink in.

    Get it out there. Be direct. Age-appropriate direct. Let them ask questions. You’ll know what to do from there….

  8. Laura Scott

    Thanks for this great post. I was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer last June – at age 33. I have two small kids, ages 2 and 5 (at the time of my diagnosis). I agree with you that telling kids the truth is so very important. Like you, I didn’t want my kids to hear it from someone else so I told my oldest daughter that I had breast cancer. I told her the truth because I didn’t want her to be frightened by those words. Even though, right now, the word cancer really means nothing to her, it’s just a matter of time before she truly understands what it’s all about. I don’t want my kids to be scared of cancer. Rather, as they get older, and learn more about it, I want them to think, “Oh, my mom had that, and look at her now!” As for the chemo, in our house, we called it “silly medicine!” It’s “silly” because it makes you lose all your hair – and it’s pretty funny having a bald mommy!

  9. Sarah

    Absolutely! It’s a part of her story too since she is an IVF baby who was carried by a surrogate — all because of my cancer.

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