Talk­ing to kids about can­cer

The News (New Glasgow) - - LIFESTYLES - Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Well­ness Of­fi­cer and Chair of Well­ness In­sti­tute at Cleve­land Clinic. Email your health and well­ness ques­tions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at youdocs­daily@share­ Drs. Oz & R

Q: My sis­ter was di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer and she’s go­ing to have to go through a lumpec­tomy and chemo­ther­apy. The part she’s ag­o­niz­ing over is how and what to tell her 10-year-old daugh­ter. Any ad­vice? — Sharon B., Lin­coln, Neb.

A: At age 10, kids un­der­stand a lot, so your sis­ter doesn’t have to worry too much about her daugh­ter grasp­ing the ba­sic med­i­cal facts. But emo­tional re­ac­tions need care­ful man­age­ment, too. That’s why it’s im­por­tant for your sis­ter to tell her daugh­ter about her di­ag­no­sis when ev­ery­one is well-rested and com­fort­able.

First, she needs to ex­plain the ba­sics, such as what can­cer is.

Then, she should ex­plain why she’s de­cided on her course of treat­ment and men­tion that she may feel pretty rot­ten from the treat­ment some­times.

Your sis­ter should ask her daugh­ter what ques­tions she has or if she’d like to think about them and talk again later. Then she should keep an eye out for any change in be­hav­iour. And make your­self avail­able to your niece. She might open up to you about con­cerns she’s re­luc­tant to dis­cuss with her mom. One more thing: your sis should ask her doc about ge­netic test­ing; if she was di­ag­nosed be­fore age 40, she may carry an iden­ti­fi­able mu­ta­tion.

Just so you know, ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can Can­cer So­ci­ety, if the can­cer hasn’t spread be­yond the breast or in the lymph nodes (stage one), the five-year rel­a­tive sur­vival rate is 99 per cent.

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