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How to tell your kids someone they love has been diagnosed with cancer — amid Kate Middleton’s battle

It’s “going to be OK.”

Kate Middleton has revealed that she gently informed her three children of her cancer diagnosis in an “appropriate way” and reassured them that she is “going to be OK.”

In a video message, the Princess of Wales said she needed time to come to terms with her condition and share the news with her children, Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, 8, and Prince Louis, 5, before telling the world.

Kate Middleton has revealed that she gently informed her three children of her cancer diagnosis in an “appropriate way” and reassured them that she is “going to be OK.” BBC Studios
Kate Middleton has revealed that she gently informed her three children of her cancer diagnosis in an “appropriate way” and reassured them that she is “going to be OK.” BBC Studios

“It’s such a difficult thing to explain to any family member but most especially children,” Dr. Karen E. Knudsen, the CEO of the American Cancer Society, told The Post. “It’s a really challenging thing to disclose to them. I think it’s a highly personal disclosure.”

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. About 1.9 million new cancer diagnoses and 609,360 cancer-related deaths are expected to occur in the US in 2022 — about 1,670 deaths a day — according to the American Cancer Society.

Knudsen said the ACS provides “guidance for individuals to talk to their family members and caregivers” since “seeking counseling support, psychosocial support for families has been shown to be very helpful in these types of scenarios.”

When do I tell my child someone they love has been diagnosed with cancer?

“It’s important for communication with children to be done in a timely manner,” Elizabeth Farrell, lead clinical social worker Dana-Farber Cancer, told The Post.

She recommends having a conversation “as soon as you have the information, you’ve had a little bit of time to absorb it yourself, and you’ve been able to get clarity around what’s going on, what it’s going to entail and the treatment of your cancer.”

The expert recommends trying to tell them at home when they have time and space to process — a Friday afternoon is preferable to allow them as much time as possible before returning to school.

“Allow a space for your child to process the information, share their emotions, voice their
concerns and ask questions,” Dr. Kendra Parris of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital told The Post.

“It’s such a difficult thing to explain to any family member but most especially children,” Dr. Karen E. Knudsen, the CEO of the American Cancer Society, told The Post. Daisy Daisy – stock.adobe.com
“It’s such a difficult thing to explain to any family member but most especially children,” Dr. Karen E. Knudsen, the CEO of the American Cancer Society, told The Post. Daisy Daisy – stock.adobe.com

What do I tell my child?

Parris said that conversations with kids depend on their “age, developmental level, personality and ability to cope.”

“Young children typically need information that is more concrete and basic, and discussions with younger children may be briefer. Older children and teenagers have often heard about cancer before but may still harbor misconceptions,” Parris explained.

Every child is different but providing as much information as possible will allow them to better cope with the situation.

“It’s helpful if you already know what the plan looks like so that you can sort of prepare a little bit for some of those questions that might be coming your way,” Farrell shared.

She advises parents to say: “Here’s what we know. Here’s what’s happening. Here’s what the plan is going to look like, and here’s how it’s going to impact you directly.”

But don’t stay too scripted. Allow your child to guide the conversation with whatever questions they have.

“I think we all have ideas about what our kids would want to know. But then often can be surprised by what actually is most on their mind,” Farrell noted.

“It’s important for communication with children to be done in a timely manner,” Elizabeth Farrell, lead clinical social worker Dana-Farber Cancer, told The Post. Lumos sp – stock.adobe.com
“It’s important for communication with children to be done in a timely manner,” Elizabeth Farrell, lead clinical social worker Dana-Farber Cancer, told The Post. Lumos sp – stock.adobe.com

How often do I update my child?

Children should be updated on any major changes to the treatment plan or prognosis. But they should also be encouraged to come to you with any questions they may have at any point in the process.

“Let them know that the first conversation isn’t going to be the only time you have a conversation,” Farrell advised.

The expert noted that these conversations don’t have to be formal sit-downs but can take place in any way that feels comfortable.

Who else in my child’s life needs to know?

Experts note that it’s really important to involve your child’s teachers, guidance counselors and anyone in their inner circle to make them aware and keep them alert to notice any changes in their behavior.

“They can be another set of eyes for you and be mindful of what’s happening at home,” Farrell explained.

“Keep them in the loop to notice what might be happening, especially if it’s going to involve any kind of changes to their schedule; they might be upset or not there as often as they normally would be.”

It can also be helpful to share this information with the parents of your child’s friends, depending on your child’s age and your relationship with them.

You should also let your child know that they don’t have to keep this heartbreaking news a secret.

Every child is different but providing as much information as feels appropriate will allow them to better cope with the situation. AspctStyle – stock.adobe.com
Every child is different but providing as much information as feels appropriate will allow them to better cope with the situation. AspctStyle – stock.adobe.com

What kind of support should I provide for my child?

Letting your child know that you can coordinate a time for them to check in with a counselor or psychologist is an important step to supporting your kid.

There are specialists who focus on dealing with children who are dealing with a cancer diagnosis.

Is it ever appropriate to not tell your children?

Experts agree that you should let your child know unless you have a child with the type of disability that would prohibit them from properly processing this information.

“Children are very perceptive and will be able to tell that something is wrong,” Parris noted.

“By providing open and honest communication with your children, you can prevent them from jumping to wrong conclusions or making inaccurate assumptions. Allowing a space for open dialogue and questions can equip children with the information they need to effectively cope.”