Tell Children About a Cancer Diagnosis??

Today, I had a basal cell carcinoma removed from my chest in my radiated field just at my clavicle.  It’s small. It’s not a cancer that spreads or threatens life in any way.  The day before my scheduled surgery, I was telling my Mom that I need to tell my children.  They are both at college, cramming for tests.  She told me, “It’s nothing.  I’ve had several removed myself. Why bother them?”

I said that I have a few reasons why children should be told, no matter what age they are:

    • If anything should happen to me, that less than 1%, my children would be angry at me that I didn’t tell them.  I don’t want to be changed forever or even die with them angry at me.
    • It’s a learning opportunity about what to do when someone goes through a scary event.  I expected both to call me after the procedure to make sure I was OK, and they did.  In fact, my daughter wrote to me before she went to class to wish me luck and to be sure I called her when I was done.
    • If I include my children when I’m going through a tough time, they will do the same with me. We are family.  We only have each other.  We depend on each other.  It’s important to go through things together, whether good or bad.  It makes a person feel important to be informed and included.  It makes children feel they are an integral part of my life, whether it’s about a vacation or a surgery.
    • Lastly, when they hear/see my positive attitude, it influences how they will deal with a similar circumstance in their future.

My mother rescinded her comments and agreed with me wholeheartedly 🙂

I’d love your comments about this.  Have you had a good or bad experience when sharing a ‘diagnosis’ with children?

By | 2016-10-14T15:18:18+00:00 October 19th, 2012|Making Life Meaningful, Parenting, Survivorship|2 Comments

About the Author:

Eva Grayzel, a nationally recognized Master Storyteller and performance artist, was diagnosed at age 33 with stage IV oral cancer and given a 15% chance of survival. After regaining her deep vibrant voice, Eva applied her stage skills to communicate the depth of her experience in a unique and powerful way. For over a decade, Eva has captivated dental professionals worldwide using her story as a catalyst for change. She performed ‘Tongue-Tied’ Off-Broadway in New York City to a sold-out audience. A champion for early detection, Eva founded the Six-Step Screening™ oral cancer awareness campaign, for which she was recognized by the American Academy of Oral Medicine. She is the author of ‘Mr. C Plays Hide & Seek’ and ‘Mr. C the Globetrotter.’ In 2017, she created ‘My Story Legacy,’ a creative format to document family stories, life values and wisdom for future generations.


  1. Darlene Woychick November 29, 2012 at 7:59 pm - Reply

    I wholeheartedly agree that children should be told as much as you think they can handle (considering age and maturity). My feelings are that life is a mixed bag of ups and downs, good times and bad and children look to their parents for skills on life management. In your case you had a terrible tongue cancer diagnosis which has now been offset by a simpler carcinoma diagnosis. Your children now may not have the terrible fear of hearing the word cancer, because you have now demonstrated that cancer too is a mixed bag. Also, think of these past elections and how people are crying for transparency in their leaders. Well, don’t you think transparency starts at home? Of course it does. I would expect your children to become better leaders because you have been transparent and communicative in all aspects of your life – the good, the bad, and the ugly. That’s life- you have to do the best with what you’ve been dealt. The things that you can control you control to the best of your ability and what is out of your control you are left to manage through courage, faith and whatever it is that just gets you through it. Managing your life- through what you can and cannot control -is really what it is ALL about. You are showing your children that you can manage what life throws your way and that they can too. I would assume that every parent would want that to be their legacy.

  2. A Lady in Oz October 12, 2015 at 12:30 am - Reply

    Over the years I have had many diagnosis of ill health ranging from autoimmune diseases to cancer. I was loathe to tell my children of any thing wrong with me in the first place and always did the happy face bravado look. However as they have become older, each time I have something wrong, they notice. So, now I tell them. They feel adult enough to share my feelings yet still I am their Mummy and they worry, of course! I feel, too, that if I didn’t tell them and something bad happened then I would never live with myself for not having told them.
    My children can’t be mollycoddled. The real world is a bad place and a good place, and they have to learn to take all that life throws at them, including a Mum who may get sick or very ill from time to time.

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