Explaining Cancer to a 4 Year Old

Not the kind of bedtime story that I ever thought I would be telling, but nonetheless it was the story that I just had to share with Susana this morning.  She took it so well, which gave me the ability to continue and get more creative in telling the story rather than breaking down and crying which is what almost happened when I first began.  Susana is doing really well right now, but that is why I had to have this talk with her.  We are about to go back to the hospital for round 2 of chemo.  Her counts are going to drop significantly.  She is going to need to get pricked and poked probably hundreds of more times throughout this process.  I had to explain to her that even though she feels good right now, that she is still sick on the inside and that is why we will have to be going to the hospital a lot in this next year.  I want her to be informed as much as a 4 year old should be informed.  I just want her to know why we have to keep going to the hospital.  I want her to know why it is so important that we have tens of thousands of people praying for her throughout the world.  I want her to know why so many people came up to us yesterday in church and told her that they have been praying for her.  I want her to know why she won’t be able to do anything that she wants to do.

So, she now knows that she has cancer and that cancer can be very dangerous.  She now knows that we need to be praying constantly that the Lord heals her of this disease.  She now knows why her hair has fallen out.  And she now knows why she needs to fight like never before.  I explained to her that she has tumors inside of her, to which she said that she did not know what that meant.  So, I had to get creative in my explanation.  I told her that there are these invaders, like little bad monsters that have found their way into her body and are trying to take over and spread themselves out everywhere.  I told her that these tumors do not belong in her body and that she has to fight with the power of the Lord to tell them to go away.  So, then I pretended that I was a big tumor trying to get her and I told her that she needs to say, “Get out of here tumor.  You don’t belong here.  By the power of God you can leave!”  And then as she said this, I would pretend that I was shriveling up and falling to the floor and dying.  She was laughing like crazy and it was really good. 

I think all of this helps her understand, which in turn will help her fight.  I promised her that Mommy, Daddy, and Isabela will be right by her side fighting with her.  And then we both prayed together.  And then she ran off to play.

Isn’t that the way it should be with us?  Isn’t that what the scripture means when it says to  “not be anxious about anything, but by prayer and petition, and with thanksgiving in our hearts, make our requests known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.”  So, what that could look like is just what Susana demonstrated:  We talk about this dreaded disease called cancer.  We talk about tumors invading the body.  Then we turn to the Lord in prayer, present our requests to Him, and then….we run off and play.  That’s faith!!!  That’s the greatness of our God!!!

10 thoughts on “Explaining Cancer to a 4 Year Old

  1. I am speechless, your faith and courage as parents are a great testament to your relationship with the Lord, an encouragement to all parents reading your words. I remember having conversations with a couple of kids at St Jude, encouraging them that it was ok to voice your anger, confusion, dislike, etc. with the Lord, that all of those emotions are part of any normal relationship, therefore their conversation with their Creator should be no different. My family and I will continue to pray for you both and Susana, for her healing, for God to be glorified through her life…the good, the bad.

  2. Man, I love you guys! What a great day when your little girl can run off and play! I’ll be praying that she has so many of those days ahead of her, and that she’ll rebound quickly from her next round of chemo. What a precious gift Susana is!!! I hope to meet her someday soon!

    Please let her know that we are thinking of her constantly, and that we are praying daily for your beautiful family! I’m praying for God’s strength during this next round of chemo!

  3. Yes, that’s the way it should be! What a hard thing you had to do … but what a creative and godly way you did it! You gave her such a perfect visual picture of the battle she is fighting and the authority she has in Jesus’ name to tell it to leave! Amen and amen! I will be agreeing with her and you in that fight. Please tell her that there is a huge army fighting around and with her against those tumors that are invading her body.

  4. Cody & Maria, thank you so much for sharing this insight from within your family. It’s more helpful than you might know to hear this. It really helps us pray for you, as we hear the ups and downs. I can only imagine that it is hard for you to open up to the world with what is happening within your family. But I know God will be glorified by your testimony, and he is most glorified by Susana’s child precious ever trusting faith. We will never have faith as pure as hers. I continue to pray for her today.

    Cody – I miss you up here in the northeast, and we could use your mad skills on the streets of Wilmington. And I miss you bro.

  5. You are such inspirations Cody and Maria. Your transparency and faith are a witness to so many people, myself included.

  6. Words fail me. God bless you. You are in my prayers. God is with you, and His strength shines through you.

  7. Wow! The beautiful faith of a child. It is amazing how the Lord so often uses our children to give us strength. Praying for all of you!

    Psalm 91:4 He will cover you with His feathers and under His wings you will find refuge. His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.


  8. Just wanted to remind you that we are praying for your family!! I am so glad you are “home”. May the Lord truly give you His peace that passes all understanding. You did a great job explaining the cancer. (We used the illustration of pac-man, the chemo, eating up the bad cancer.) Kids do have child like faith to trust God. We tend to complicate things.
    Our love and prayers are will you,
    Ron & Su Green

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