If you are a parent and you have a cancer diagnosis you will know that communicating about your illness with your child(ren) is an absolute mine field, should you tell them? should you hide it completely? how much information is ok? how do you talk to them without scaring them when you are absolutely terrified yourself?
We know these feelings all too well, having both received a diagnosis of secondary breast cancer, in our 30’s and each of us with two small children of our own.
When we met at an event for young women with secondary breast cancer it was as if we had always known each other, our stories had many similarities but it was our desire to surround ourselves with positivity that really brought us together.
We sat through many informative and incredibly useful sessions that weekend, but the session about talking to children left us both feeling like there was a real lack of child friendly resources for learning about cancer, which is particularly shocking when we then heard the decision to not talk to our children about cancer could leave them feeling scared, alone or worse to blame for what’s happening. Its completely natural to want to hide all the ugly things in the world from our children, after all its our job to protect them and it’s easy to feel like hiding our cancer away saves them an unnecessary sadness, but unfortunately this can have the opposite effect. The reality is, children are intuitive, whether we intend to share with them or not they over hear things, they see things and notice changes, they even pick up on our feelings and emotions, giving them no information only leaves them to conjure up ideas of their own.
Our flash cards are a resource like no other, they are bright colourful and interactive, breaking down cancer treatment into bite sized chunks, either to be addressed in the order of the pack or simply to use each card as it becomes relevant. The cards are also designed to be interactive, conversation starters with activities and suggested talking points. Our design aims not only to help break down the barriers of communication between parents and their children but also encourage children to be aware of their own health and bodies empowering them to grow up with a greater self awareness and the confidence to get any signs or symptoms they may exhibit checked appropriately.
The cards are an A – Z guide aimed at 2-10 year olds and focus on the different aspects of treatment, such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, tests and hospital stays along with the affects all of these different treatments may have on Mummy or Daddy’s appearance, energy levels and emotions. Throughout the cards there is a strong focus on emotional well being and encouragement for children to share their own feelings, even those difficult ones that feel uncomfortable to talk about.
We are launching the cards in October to coincide with breast cancer awareness month, because it was our own secondary breast cancer diagnosis that brought us together but we are keen to make it clear that these cards will be relevant for people with any kind of cancer, and will look to promote and signpost relevant services for families affected by cancer on our social media pages. We are in talks with several charities and stockists to determine where the cards will be sold and will continue to share the stages of our venture on our social media sites.
In support of the incredible charities that have given us, and many other families support through a cancer diagnosis we will be donating £1 from each pack sold to a different spotlight charity each month. There are some wonderful supportive services out there for families facing a parental cancer diagnosis, but we want to help make them more accessible for the people that need them and we hope to do that by making the little C club a place to share their details, meaning parents that have purchased our packs wont have to search for these services alone, we will be there to help point them in the direction of people that can help them with anything from special days to counselling for children and even support groups full of likeminded people experiencing parenting with cancer. We also encourage parents to share their experiences of the cards, showing us how they are using them which will open up further lines of communication and facilitate connections and friendships between those in the community.
We are both very passionate about changing the way we talk about cancer, none of us want to hear that big scary C word but unfortunately with the odds of a diagnosis currently set at 1 in 2, cancer will inevitably feature in the future of most families making it all the more important that we work together now to remove a bit of the scary, to face it head on armed with the knowledge that prevention is better than cure and knowing that taking control of our bodies really can save lives.
To order a pack, follow @thelittlecclub on Instagram.