Telling your child that a loved one has mesothelioma can feel like the hardest job in the world. There are nearly 2,000 new mesothelioma patients in the US every year according to this resource survivingmesothelioma.com/mesothelioma/ and your family could soon be touched by this fatal disease.
It’s expected that more and more cases are going to surface because mesothelioma takes a long time to display symptoms. And we stopped using asbestos 30 years ago so doctors are expecting a rise in mesothelioma cases.
So what are you supposed to do if a loved one has mesothelioma?
Don’t Try to Hide It
Some people may think that it’s best if they don’t tell their children at all. But children are smart and they do notice when something is wrong. Let’s look at some of the symptoms of mesothelioma:
- Weight loss.
- Problems swallowing food.
- Coughing and shortness of breath.
These symptoms are easy to pick up on and even if they don’t know its mesothelioma children will notice that something isn’t right.
Rehearse the Conversation
It can often be helpful for people to rehearse the conversation first. Write down what you want to say and how you want to say it. This is a tough conversation and it’s important that you stay strong when talking to your children. It’s going to be extremely emotional for them.
What Should You Say?
It depends on how old your children are. Older children and teenagers are ready to hear the full facts, even if it’s hard. Tell them exactly what the problem is and don’t hold back any of the facts, including your life expectancy. The worst thing for a child is for a loved one to die suddenly without any warning.
You can tell younger children a simplified version of the problem. For example, you may center it around why mommy or daddy is always tired and why they keep coughing.
This information should always be given, according to the American Cancer Society:
- The name ‘mesothelioma’.
- Where the cancer is in the body.
- How you will be treated.
- What changes are going to be experienced by them.
But the important thing in both cases is to not dance around the issue. Get right to the point.
Breaking Common Myths and the Future
Be prepared to face some common myths from children, especially younger ones. Make it clear that your mesothelioma wasn’t caused by them. Also tell them that cancer isn’t contagious and it’s highly unlikely for any other loved ones to also be diagnosed with mesothelioma.
But what about the future? While mesothelioma survival rates are low, through alternative cancer treatments more and more people with mesothelioma are living on for years afterwards.
Make it clear that the diagnosis isn’t the end and mesothelioma isn’t a death sentence. Today medical science is more advanced than ever and doctors are coming up with new, non-toxic ways of treating those with all types of mesothelioma.
Do you need to have this conversation with your children soon?