MBC & Relationships

Talking to Older Children

Older children and teenagers are more likely to have a deeper understanding of your metastatic breast cancer (MBC) diagnosis from hearing about cancer on television or at school. In addition to your honesty and reassurance, they may need more information than younger children do.

Be honest.

Although you do not want to worry them, protecting children from the hard facts of an MBC diagnosis may harm their sense of trust in you. Sharing information early on will help build trust. It may also help to say something like “this is not the time for you to worry, but I promise I will let you know when it is,” so they understand that you are okay.

Schedule family meetings.

You may want to involve older children in conversations about how family responsibilities may change. For example, they may need to handle more household chores while you are undergoing treatment, or be asked to provide emotional support to younger siblings.

Anticipate questions.

Be prepared to answer questions to the best of your knowledge. If you don’t know the answer, let them know you will find out and get back to them.

Get them involved.

If your children are old enough (recommended ages 15-18), you may consider bringing them to one of your doctor’s appointments. This could open up their eyes to the reality of the situation. Make sure to check with your health care team on when it’s appropriate to bring them.

Remain in charge of your care.

There is a tendency for older children to want to take charge of their parent’s medical situation. They may want to reverse roles and become the parent and you the child. They may want to know every detail and may spend hours on the internet researching for various treatment options. Reassure them that you appreciate their concern; however, you are the one to remain in charge of your care and treatment decisions.

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