You should tell your child as soon as possible after diagnosis. It is impossible to prevent a child from knowing that he is seriously ill. The child has been whisked to an unfamiliar hospital by frightened parents, endured painful tests, and received drugs and transfusions. Cards and presents begin to arrive, and friends and siblings are absent or behave in a strange manner. The child may meet other children with a variety of physical problems at the hospital.
Delay in providing age-appropriate information escalates the child's fears. Well-meaning parents may cause great anguish by isolating their child in a conspiracy of silence. Parents may delude themselves into thinking that the diagnosis is a secret, but children are extraordinarily perceptive. They frequently keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves in order to protect their parents from more pain. In this case, not only must the child deal with having cancer, but he must do it on his own with no one to console him. Lacking accurate information, children can imagine scenarios far more frightening than the reality.
We feel that you have to be very honest or the child will not be able to trust you. Meagan (5 years old) has always known that she has cancer and thinks of her treatments and medications as the warriors to help the good cells fight the bad cells.
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