Children are notorious for asking tough questions, especially when they are first diagnosed with cancer. Here are a few common tough questions and some answers that other parents have given their children.
“Mom, Am I dying?” Son, everyone is born, lives and dies, we just don’t know when to expect death. Great grandma died due to old age, the neighbor died in a car crash, Uncle Ed was only supposed to live until he was 12 but now he is in his 90′s. We never know when we are going to die but everyone dies eventually. We want to simply treasure life here and now and not worry about when we are going to die.
“Dad, I don’t want a central line” A central line is a good thing. Without it, you’ll have to have an IV started each and every treatment. IV’s can be very uncomfortable and painful and in the way. A central line can be kept out of site when not in use and no one else needs to know you even have it. You’ll appreciate the many benefits it offers.
“I don’t want to lose my hair” I know sweetie, losing your hair seems like the worst thing right now. One day you will look back and realize that losing your hair was only a minor detail. It will grow back. In the meantime, we can buy you hats, scarves or wigs but we can never replace you. This is only temporary. (In many cases hospitals have a department that offers hats, scarves and wigs to children undergoing chemotherapy treatments. Many teens also find friends or family members willing to shave their heads so that they aren’t alone in this dilemma.)
“Do I still have to go to school?” Yes, you do. Education is important. If we need to, we can use a tutor, home school and then attend class when you’re feeling up to it. You’ll want to have a good education when you grow up. (Bonus to this one is that you show the child that you fully expect for them to recover.)
“Why am I sick? Did I do something wrong?” No, you didn’t do anything wrong. Sometimes our bodies just have medical problems and we don’t always know why.
There are many other questions that can be challenging for parents to answer. Think the answer through before giving it and make sure that your child can see that there is always hope.