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How Do You Tell Your Kids You Have Cancer?

5:37 PM, Oct 4, 2011   |    comments
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Winston-Salem, NC -- For Mike Tyson, telling his 10-year-old daughter he had cancer was one of the hardest conversation he's ever had to make.

Tuesday at 5pm, Tyson told his story and how he talked with his daughter. Risa Hanau with Hospice & Palliative Care of Greensboro also joined us to give parents ideas of how to start that conversation.

When Tyson turned 50, he decided to get a physical. That visit changed, and possibly saved, his life.

"I was fine, and that's when he (the doctor) told me my PSA was high. I was like, 'hmmm, that's interesting.' Then when they did the biopsy that kind of says it all, you know," said Tyson.

He was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

"I think I was in denial up until the day they wheeled me into the operating room. Then I realized it's real," Tyson said. 

But accepting his own diagnosis was especially difficult because he watched his wife struggle with cancer, too.

"She was having some leg pain shortly after our daughter was born in 2000. They did a biopsy, went for an MRI and said it was cancer," Tyson recalled.

In 2007 his wife lost her battle. Tyson said he spent much of his time during those seven years caring for her. But those lessons he learned helped and inspired Tyson to fight his own cancer battle. 

He said cancer should not define your life even when it's active.

Now, almost a year later, Tyson is a survivor, for himself and for his daughter Eleanor.

"The time I have been able to spend with my daughter has been pretty precious," said Tyson. "She's appreciated it, and it's good for me."

Tyson said it took time to tell his daughter about his cancer, and Risa Hanau with Hospice & Palliative Care of Greensboro said that's normal.

She said you need to speak to children on their level. Younger children don't need to know as many details as older children. She also said, you don't need to tell kids EVERYTHING. And she says the most important thing is to answer the question they may not ask--- "Will I be taken care of?".   

Cancer.org and Hospice of Greensboro has more information on how to talk with children about cancer.

Prostate Cancer Facts:

According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 240,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year. They predict 33,000 will die.

Those most at risk:

Men 50 and older, African Americans or men with a father, brother or son who has had prostate cancer

Common symptoms include:

Weak flow during urination; difficulty stopping urination; needing to urinate often; difficulty having an erection; frequent pain in your lower back, hips or upper thighs; and blood in the urine or semen

These symptoms could be signs of various medical conditions, so you should visit your doctor. Doctor Dawn Moose with Novant Health said by the time you experience these symptoms, it could be too late.

WFMY News 2 will give viewers a chance to get your questions about answered about cancer. Phone banks will be open on Friday, Oct. 7 from 5pm-6;30pm, and Monday, Oct. 10, from 6am-8am. Medical experts from Forsyth Medical Center will be taking calls.

WFMY News 2

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