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2013-08-02 7:07 PM

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Subject: Terminal Cancer
I really need some help from the BT community. Several months ago my aunt was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and underwent surgery and given a hear or two to live. Two months ago the cancer came back but much worse this time. Last night she was rushed to the hospital where it was found that she is completely filled with cancer and has less than one month to live. How do I explain this to my six year old? How do I say his one and only great aunt will be dead soon? How do I not scare him and have him think that I'm going to die soon too? Is there anyone who has been in this same situation? Is there anyone who can offer advice?


2013-08-02 7:10 PM
in reply to: Hubbie

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Elite
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Subject: RE: Terminal Cancer
I have none, I just wanted to say I'm really sad to hear such news. Kids think weird things. Sometimes it's a big deal, sometimes it's not. I was scared of simple stuff as a kid, and the big stuff not so much. IDK. I don't think the words matter as much as how you present it and react about it. Use the time wisely. Hugs.
2013-08-02 7:27 PM
in reply to: powerman

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Queen BTich
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Subject: RE: Terminal Cancer

I don't have kids but I was about 10 when one of my aunts died of cancer. I visited her in the hospital about 2mo before she died and that was it. My parents told me she was very sick and not getting better. Then she died and we went to the funeral. Seeing my parents so distraught, as my aunt was younger than them, scared me enough that I didn't ask questions. I knew she had cancer and that it killed her.

I'm sure others will give better advice, but I don't think I would say anymore more than the basics, that she's "very sick and staying in the hospitals so the Doctors can take care of her." Answer his questions as he has them, but he might not. Or he might ask things you're not expecting. Six is pretty young to be going into detail.

My grandmother died last year. My cousin has 3 kids: 12, 10, 7. They new she was sick but as she got worse, and as she got close to death, she didn't let her younger kids go see her as she didn't want them to be scared of death. She wanted them to remember her how she was before she was sick.

Just my experience.

2013-08-02 7:32 PM
in reply to: Hubbie

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Subject: RE: Terminal Cancer

Originally posted by Hubbie I really need some help from the BT community. Several months ago my aunt was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and underwent surgery and given a hear or two to live. Two months ago the cancer came back but much worse this time. Last night she was rushed to the hospital where it was found that she is completely filled with cancer and has less than one month to live. How do I explain this to my six year old? How do I say his one and only great aunt will be dead soon? How do I not scare him and have him think that I'm going to die soon too? Is there anyone who has been in this same situation? Is there anyone who can offer advice?

This isn't the same but when my granddaughter died in Jan 2012 her little sister Paige was only 2, so too young to understand.  Now that Paige is 3 1/2 when she sees photos of her sister she will say - that is my sister Peyton, she is an angel now.  I don't know at what age a young child can understand what death means.  I think if you explain to him that your aunt was sick, and reassure him that you are not going to leave him, he will be fine.  Children can be very strong and resilient in tough situations, sometimes more so than adults.

2013-08-02 7:39 PM
in reply to: Hubbie

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Subject: RE: Terminal Cancer
I have no words to help, but sympathy for what your family is going through. May everyone take solace in that God has mercy, forgiveness and peace to offer you in times of trouble.

My family isn't known for longevity and, despite losing my all of grandparents by age 15, I'm relatively OK.

Peace be with you and yours....

Dave
2013-08-03 6:28 AM
in reply to: Comet

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Subject: RE: Terminal Cancer
Originally posted by Comet

I don't have kids but I was about 10 when one of my aunts died of cancer. I visited her in the hospital about 2mo before she died and that was it. My parents told me she was very sick and not getting better. Then she died and we went to the funeral. Seeing my parents so distraught, as my aunt was younger than them, scared me enough that I didn't ask questions. I knew she had cancer and that it killed her.

I'm sure others will give better advice, but I don't think I would say anymore more than the basics, that she's "very sick and staying in the hospitals so the Doctors can take care of her." Answer his questions as he has them, but he might not. Or he might ask things you're not expecting. Six is pretty young to be going into detail.

My grandmother died last year. My cousin has 3 kids: 12, 10, 7. They new she was sick but as she got worse, and as she got close to death, she didn't let her younger kids go see her as she didn't want them to be scared of death. She wanted them to remember her how she was before she was sick.

Just my experience.

I'll echo this.  I've been going to funerals for great aunts since the age of 5.  Most were more old age/sudden death, but one (when I was maybe 10 or 11) was a semi-rapid decline due to cancer.  She was also the most beloved (closest) of the great aunts.  My sister (older) and I were not allowed to see her near the end.  This upset us but the family was adament that they wanted us to remember her as she was...not how she was right before she died.

I would suggest the 6 year old gets to go say goodbye before his aunt gets REALLY bad...I think at 6 you can understand the concept of "so sick she won't get better".  And getting the opportunity to say goodbye will mean a LOT as the years go by....kids need closure too.

We attended the funeral (also important).  I had hardly cried for most of my great aunts' funerals and I bawled through this one.  I've only cried that much again for my grandparents' funerals....



2013-08-03 9:08 AM
in reply to: jldicarlo

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Subject: RE: Terminal Cancer
You don't need to say a lot, but it does need to be truthful. My grandfather died of pancreatic cancer and I remember being very, very angry at my dad for not telling me the truth about what was going on. I was a teen, so expect you wouldn't need as much detail for a 6-year old.

And definitely see her before she gets too ill. If your aunt is feeling well that day and can get up and around, take pictures. These are the memories she should keep, and you should too.
2013-08-03 6:10 PM
in reply to: #4820070

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Subject: RE: Terminal Cancer
Just be truthful. My mother in law died when my daughters were 3 & 5 years old. Sure they cried but we all did. We just told the girls that she was sick for a long time and she is in a better place.
2013-08-03 7:41 PM
in reply to: rick4657

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Subject: RE: Terminal Cancer

Definitely be honest. My sister died a couple of years ago and I had no idea how to approach the subject with my then 5 year old daughter. I was afraid it would terrify her to know that her Aunt got sick and never made it out of the hospital. I talked to a few child psychiatrists who said do NOT by any means sugarcoat it - to tell her the truth that Auntie Lianne got sick and didn't get better and died. I told her just that and we had a little talk about how her Aunt might be in heaven or an angel, and that seemed to do it for her. 

Sorry to hear about your aunt - cancer sucks

2013-08-03 7:56 PM
in reply to: Hubbie

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Subject: RE: Terminal Cancer
I agree about being honest. It's difficult but I believe honesty is always the best approach.

Lost my mom last September to pancreatic cancer. Six weeks from the time she was diagnosed until she passed. I remember telling my kids...daughter 13, son 10. I told them that there grandma was very sick and would not be getting better. I continued to talk to them about it right up to the end. Daughter took it much harder than my son. Cancer sucks.
2013-08-04 6:24 PM
in reply to: rayd

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Subject: RE: Terminal Cancer

You just tell him.  We've lost a couple of grandparents in the last few years. My children were very close to them.....saw them every day.  Kids will run through the same emotions as adults....you just deal with them as they come up.  As for him worrying you will die as well one day...yep, they figure that out at about 6-8 as well, and it doesn't take the death of a relative to figure it out. 

I'm sorry for what you are going through and don't want to sound callous toward it....but we're always honest and pretty blunt with our kids over these types of things....and then we're ready to help them through it.  It's worked fine....although I can say, without hesitation, the death of a favorite Grandpa took a toll on our family for quite a while.



2013-08-05 1:52 PM
in reply to: Left Brain

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Subject: RE: Terminal Cancer

My father passed of leukemia when I was 5/6 after months of treatment and hospitalization and bone marrow transplants, etc.  I just accepted it.  I don't recall having a fear for my mortality or anything like that.

Maybe it's different for everyone, but I think kids are FAR more resilient than we give them credit for.  As adults, we probably worry far more about what we THINK how the kids are going to take it/adjust than what would actually happen.

I agree about just telling/talking about it.  I was pulled from sleep, taken halfway down the stairs (not sure why) and my uncle told me my father was dead.  I just accepted it.  In fact, I actually whipped up some "fake" tears, not because I was in pain, but more because I thought it was expected of me for the rest of the family to cry.  I guess I was able to see the inevitable and reality of the situation better than the adults?  The death seemed to hit them a lot harder than me.  Curious.

2013-08-06 7:10 AM
in reply to: Hubbie

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Subject: RE: Terminal Cancer
So sorry to hear this. I agree with the "being honest" . I lost my sister a few years ago to cancer. She was 34 and left behind 3 boys 8,6 and 4. My father was diagnosed with Glioblastoma (brain cancer) in early July. We are going thru this exact thing with him. My sister that lives in the same town has a 5 and 7 year old. Cancer sucks.
2013-08-06 9:40 AM
in reply to: isyphoto

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Subject: RE: Terminal Cancer

Originally posted by isyphoto So sorry to hear this. I agree with the "being honest" . I lost my sister a few years ago to cancer. She was 34 and left behind 3 boys 8,6 and 4. My father was diagnosed with Glioblastoma (brain cancer) in early July. We are going thru this exact thing with him. My sister that lives in the same town has a 5 and 7 year old. Cancer sucks.

I'm so sorry. That's tough and so many young children.

I have experience with 'blastomas, if you need some info or empathy.

2013-08-09 4:39 AM
in reply to: Hubbie

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Subject: RE: Terminal Cancer
I was 10 when my Grampy Roy died of cancer. I saw him in the hospital about a week before he passed. Sure he wasn't the tall, handsome man that I remember him as but I'm so very grateful to my parents to have let me see him and say good bye. (I'm bawling as I type this....36 years later and I still miss the man.) It's hard, it sucks but dying is also a part of life. Have the conversation now. Go through the questions together and don't be afraid to say, "I don't know."

Learn together and share what Life means with each other.

When I think back over my times with my Grampy Roy...99% are the good and healthy times with him. The only time I think of him in the hospital is if the subject comes up. I'm NOT the poster child for well adjusted human beings but I'd like to think I turned out ok.

I hope this helps and I'm sorry for what you are going through right now.
2013-08-09 5:31 AM
in reply to: halford_tenark

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Subject: RE: Terminal Cancer
My Aunt died very swiftly of cancer two years ago and my girls are 7 and 10 now.

I think you've had some very good advice on how to deal with the passing of the Aunt but there were a couple of things closer to home that we needed to address in addition.

The girls got scared that we were going to die too. This was difficult as making promises that it won't happen to us is risky but for whatever the rights and wrongs are - that's what we did. I told them I was fit, strong and led a very healthy lifestyle so wasn't going anywhere.

They got scared that they were going to die too. I answered that in the same way.

I wouldn't necessarily recommend saying what we did but just to let you know that some of the things they might come out with are a bit left field so be prepared for those too.

Sorry for what you're going through.


2013-08-11 11:28 AM
in reply to: Dan-L

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Subject: RE: Terminal Cancer
My thoughts are with you, I know its a very hard situation to go through. My wife's grandmother passed away earlier this year from pancreatic cancer. I know how hard that was on our two daughters. As others noted, be honest. We tried to keep it short at first, with just a short conversation that Nana was sick and was going to die. They had some questions at first, took some time to digest, and had more. So, maybe expect that the conversations may happen in pieces. I do think that kids are very resilient, so being honest with your son, and being there for him, will go a long way.

Again, you are in my thoughts.
2013-08-11 12:09 PM
in reply to: kmac1346

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Subject: RE: Terminal Cancer

Originally posted by kmac1346 My thoughts are with you, I know its a very hard situation to go through. My wife's grandmother passed away earlier this year from pancreatic cancer. I know how hard that was on our two daughters. As others noted, be honest. We tried to keep it short at first, with just a short conversation that Nana was sick and was going to die. They had some questions at first, took some time to digest, and had more. So, maybe expect that the conversations may happen in pieces. I do think that kids are very resilient, so being honest with your son, and being there for him, will go a long way. Again, you are in my thoughts.

This is thread has brought tears to my eyes this morning.

I have 2 children age 5 & 7. We've lost a great aunt, our family dog and just recently my grandmother (great grandma to my children) all in the last 6 months. I'll echo that the questions come when I am not expecting it, often in the van on the way to somewhere. My kids do not seem at all afraid of death and are pretty matter of fact in their discussions about "when Mommy dies" or who is going to die first, me or Daddy. Not my favorite subject. My son (age 6/7 through all of this) would cry or get upset about little random things or have an outburst at his sister for no reason. Our faith & beliefs is what I turn to when answering questions. 

2013-08-11 3:04 PM
in reply to: Hubbie

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Subject: RE: Terminal Cancer
I just lost one of my best friends to cancer. Her little boy is going to be in 1st grade this year. I don't know exactly how it was all explained to him, but I do know that people from hospice helped my friend's husband explain it all to their son.

Very tough situation, I wish you well and am sorry to hear this.
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