Need Advice - Telling our kids

New Contributor

Need Advice - Telling our kids

My husband has had CML for three years. He takes daily TKI's for his cancer which affect his health, and it will likely be another 2-3 years before he can get off the drug, and try to live without them for a (hopefully) a long period of time.


In the meantime, we haven't told our kids (ages 5 and 7) that he has CML. We are so unsure when is the right time....but I am sure they notice something is not as it seems.


When my husband is not well, we just tell the kids that daddy gets sick easier, and takes him longer to recover.....


We are worried about telling them, as they are so young, but at the same time we hate keeping this big secret from them, (not sure which is worst) and maybe it would help if we told them, so that they understand why daddy is unwell so often.  I need advised from experienced parents!


I would love to get advice/ or experience from parents of young children on how/ and when they told their kids, and what their thoughts are on this. We are so torn, and unsure how to proceed. 


Thank you for taking the time to response.





Super Contributor

Re: Need Advice - Telling our kids

Hi Donna57


Don’t hesitate to tell them. Children are a lot stronger than people give them credit for. 

I have 2 reasons in why I’m telling you that it’s okay to tell them. 


The first is is that my sister had breast cancer from the age of 36.  Her & her husband didn’t tell their kids.  She lasted for 11 years before her organs shut down, but the single message I got from her children is that they wished she talked to them about it.  It actually drove one of her kids to alcohol.  Thankfully he is much better these days.   She had 5 children. 


The second reason is that we have 3 grandchildren ages 4 - 7.  They all know that I am dying.  My daughter told them  as soon as they were old enough to understand. As long as you’re open & honest with them, talk about it whenever they want, & do it in a way they will understand, then I think they will be fine. 


We we were around their place having lunch one day.   It was a fabulous roast lamb.  Unfortunately, I vomited not long after.   Apparently, our eldest grandchild, was 6 at the time, thought about it a lot.  At bed time, she asked her Mum a few questions about me, & was told that I’d be cremated. She got all worried about Grandpa then, that he’d hurt his back putting Grandma in the oven 😁.  So then our daughter explained the details of cremation, & she was fine after that. 


As I said, children are resilient far beyond what we know, & they have their own way of coping.  The more info the better, as long as they understand it when it’s given. 


All the best



ps. Sorry about the long reply. 

New Contributor

Re: Need Advice - Telling our kids

Thank you Budgie for sharing your personal story, you have no idea how much it means to us.


Re: Need Advice - Telling our kids

Hi @Donna57,


That's such a difficult situation to be in. Thank you for reaching out to this online community.  You may find some information in this Cancer Council publication helpful Talking to kids about cancer, and there are some other resources on this page that you might use.


I hope that others here share experiences of how they coped with similar situations.


Take care,


Online Community admin team



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