Skin cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer. In many cases, getting the malignant area removed at a skin cancer clinic is all the treatment you need to prevent the cancer from spreading. However, young children can still be afraid when they find out their parent is getting surgery. Here are some tips for talking to kids about skin cancer removal to make the experience less scary for them.
1. Don't Use the Word "Cancer"
The word "cancer" causes an instant fear response in many people, especially young children. If your cancer is early stage, and you do not expect to need any more treatment, it might be best to avoid using this word when talking to your kids. Let them know that you are getting a mole or ulcer removed because the doctor said it could be harmful, but avoid using the word unless your kids press for more information.
2. Use Simple Language
Terms like "melanoma" can confuse young kids. Try using simple language, such as, "I have a spot on my face that the doctor is going to remove so it doesn't get any bigger." Don't get into medical jargon. Be sure to use reassuring language, such as, "it might be a bit sore for a few days, but soon I'll be fine."
3. Choose the Right Time to Talk
It is important to let your kids know that you will be going to the skin cancer clinic before the day of the surgery, but if your surgery is scheduled for several weeks in the future, there is probably no need to tell them about it just yet. A week or a few days before the surgery, find a quiet moment to talk to them about it.
4. Let Them Know What to Expect
Skin cancer removal is a simple procedure, but it sometimes has side effects such as bruising, swelling, or bleeding, which children can find distressing. Ask your doctor what to expect — for example, if you will need to wear a bandage after the surgery — and pass on the information to your children so they aren't shocked when they see you.
5. Educate Kids About Skin Protection
Particularly with older kids, skin cancer removal can be a good opportunity to talk about the importance of sun protection. For example, you could say, "I need to get this spot removed because I wasn't careful in the sun. That's why it's important to wear sunscreen and a hat."
To learn other techniques, discuss this topic with a doctor at your skin cancer clinic.