Telling children

Telling teenagers or younger children about a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer can be the most difficult thing of all. We spoke to people about their experience of telling their young or grown up children that they had pancreatic cancer.

Ben told his teenage children exactly what was happening. They knew that they could talk to his Macmillan nurse about his illness. When Alison was diagnosed with cancer she also felt that it was important to tell her children the truth. William’s nurses gave him some useful written information about how to talk to his teenage children. He told them that he was ill and needed surgery but he didnt tell them that he was going to die. He didnt want to be ‘brutal’ nor did he give them false hope.

When Helens cancer came back she told her 13-year-old son that she was having more treatment but she didnt tell him that the cancer was back. She wanted to give him information gradually. However, she was more honest with her 23-year-old.

Most people said that their teenage children were shocked and upset and cried when they first got bad news but then appeared to handle the situation really well. Lesley’s 11-year-old daughter looked at Riprap, a website for young people who have a parent with cancer.

When Lesley told her 19-year-old son and her 11-year-old daughter that she was going to die they…

Age at interview 47

Gender Female

Age at diagnosis 45

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David (Interview 30) and Fiona’s sons were still at primary school when she was diagnosed with cancer. One day David was with their younger son and he told him about his Mum’s illness. At the same time Fiona talked to their elder son and told him what was happening.

David and Fiona told their young sons about Fiona’s cancer. The boys were upset but at times…

Age at interview 43

Gender Male

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Simon and Karen had very young children when Karen was diagnosed with cancer. The baby was only four months old and their little girl was three. The hospital gave them helpful information about how to talk to children. The Winston’s Wish charity website was useful too.

When Simon and Karen told their daughter about Karens illness they did not make up names or use…

Age at interview 39

Gender Male

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Grandchildren may also be involved. Ann didnt want her grandchildren to know about her poor prognosis months and months in advance of her death, but she did want them to be prepared for it. Several people said they encouraged young children to ask questions about the illness. Maureen answered all her grandchildren’s questions but did not give them too many details about her illness. She liked to keep things ‘simple but not secret’.

Telling family and friends

We spoke to people about their experience of talking to friends and family about having pancreatic cancer. Breaking the news to family People who have...