PUBLISHED ON: 7 May 2019

Telling your children that you have breast cancer can be difficult, and it can be hard to know how to talk to them about it.  

We’ve shared our six top tools for talking to children about cancer, including books to read together, books for children to explore themselves, and an audiobook.

1. Telling your child you have cancer

Telling your child you have cancer comic front cover

Created by the Fruitfly Collective, Telling your child you have cancer offers adult family members an introduction to ways to talk to children about their cancer diagnosis. It includes age-appropriate definitions of words that may help explain what cancer is as well as some common questions with answers that children have asked about cancer.  

2. Mummy’s Lump

Mummy's lump book cover

Mummy’s Lump was written by Gillian Forrest, Consultant Child Psychiatrist and Senior Research Fellow at Oxford University, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1990 when her children were five and seven. It is a book for families that want to talk to their children about breast cancer. It was the UK’s first-ever book that helps young children with mums who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. It has the look and feel of a classic children’s story book, and follows Elly and Jack as they learn about their mother’s diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer.  

3. B is for Breast cancer

B is for Breast Cancer front cover

B is for Breast Cancer was written by a nurse and doctor to help them explain primary breast cancer and the issues around it to their children. The book looks at the impact breast cancer can have on a family in a helpful and non-threatening way. It follows Lucy and Jack who have a Mum who has been diagnosed with primary breast cancer and needs to have chemotherapy, surgery, radiotherapy and hormone therapy. 

4. A Bubble

A Bubble book front cover

A Bubble was created near the end of artist and musician GENEVIÈVE CASTRÉE'S life, and using her personal experiences shows the impact that cancer had on her and her daughter’s daily routines. An extension of her life story, ‘A Bubble’ is a board book that was Castree’s final gift for her two-year-old daughter. 

5. Talking to children and teenagers when an adult has cancer  

Man holding Macmillan placard

Created by Macmillan, this audiobook provides information and advice to help you talk to children of all ages about cancer. It focuses on a wide range of issues such as how to tell your children you have cancer, understanding their reactions, helping them cope, explaining treatments, and how to deal with changes to family life. It can be ordered as a CD or listened to online via SoundCloud and is divided by topic into short audio clips varying from a couple to 10 minutes. 

6. When Your Parent Has Cancer: A Guide for Teens 

When your parent has cancer guide front cover

This guide is tailored for teenagers who may have more of an understanding about cancer than a younger child, and offers examples of what has helped other teenagers get through this difficult time. Tested and developed with advice from teenagers that have had a parent with cancer, the guide focuses on a wide variety of topics such as dealing with stress, how they can help themselves and their parents as well as information on cancer, its treatments and possible side effects. 

Find more resources and information on talking to children about cancer.

Talking to children