One Friday afternoon my mom was dropping off my daughter to preschool because I was with my husband at a doctor's appointment. One of my daughter’s classmates asked her where her mom was and her reply was, “My dad has cancer, she is with him at the doctor.” The 5yr old girl responded, “Your dad has cancer, he is going to die.” Her mother just sat there not saying a word, supporting and confident in her daughter’s statement.
My mother quickly stated “No, he isn’t going to die. He actually got a great report from the doctor today.” Then the preschool teacher came to get them for class and that was the end of it.
I wanted to share this story, not to spread anger or criticize anyone’s parenting skills, but solely to demonstrate the need for accurate cancer education for children. Because let’s face it, with cancer becoming so widespread every kid is likely to hear that word at some point in their childhood. And speaking from experience, it is very difficult to talk to children about this topic openly and honestly.
My heart breaks to think there is a child growing up who believes a cancer diagnosis automatically equals death. Talk about a defeatist attitude! The truth is, every specific kind and case of cancer is very different. And yes, cancer does kill people. However, it doesn’t kill every person it touches. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, the overall rate of surviving cancer is about 58%. That means more than half of the people touched by cancer defeat it, and the odds just keep improving!
So I am asking you to be honest and positive with your children instead of passing on your pain and fears to them. Did you know, according to Mayo Clinic, positive thinking may increase your lifespan, lower your rate of depression and stress, and provide better coping skills during hardships? “So I refuse to give up because I know God will never let me down.”(Isaiah 50:7) “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)