Michael Douglas Didn’t Hide Cancer Diagnosis from Kids

09/19/2010 at 02:00 PM ET
Kurt Krieger/AllStar/Globe

When it came to sharing the news of his stage four throat cancer diagnosis with his two youngest children — Dylan Michael, 10, and Carys Zeta, 7 — Michael Douglas felt honesty was the best policy.

“I don’t know what else you would do. It is what it is,” the Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps star tells USA Today.

According to the veteran actor, both kids are taking the news in stride — and have even managed to see the positive amidst their father’s grim news.

“They’re happy I can’t talk that much. Sometimes you say, ‘Daddy’s tired.’ Okay, great,” Douglas laughs.

“The kids, yeah, they’ve been fine. I’ve taken them down to the hospital and shown them the whole radiology thing. They’ve watched me actually get zapped.”

It’s no surprise both Douglas, 65, and his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones chose to include their children; The couple took the same approach when it came to explaining older brother Cameron‘s run-in with the law and his subsequent five-year prison sentence.

“They really missed him and he missed them,” Douglas shares, adding that Dylan and Carys have visited Cameron in prison.

“He’s fine. He’s made a couple of big, big mistakes in his life. He’s paid the price. On the other side of it, he’s sober,” the actor explains. “I really, really enjoy getting back to know him. I’m really hopeful for his future. He’s a wonderful kid. It’s heartbreaking that we lost as many years as we did.”

— Anya Leon

FILED UNDER: News , Parenting

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Steph on

I agree with their approach. I don’t believe in hiding the ‘truth’ from kids. Life is tough sometimes, death is certainly tough, and sometimes people do ‘bad’ things. There is usually an age- appropriate way to share information with kids- they are much more aware than we adults think they are! Best of luck in your recovery, Mr. Douglas!

Georgina on

Well said Steph, I agree!

nella on

I also agree they shouldn’t hide such a huge thing from their children so I do think honesty is the best way to go. I think what they’re doing is good. Even taking the kids to visit their half brother in prison is kind of an eye opening for kids. I mean the kids are old enough to understand somewhat of what’s going on. I really do hope Michael survives this battle. The last sentence made me sad a bit so I really do hope Cameron and him get a chance to strenghten their relationship.

kay on

I’m not so sure. My mother was diagnosed just before my 3rd birthday. I was an only child. As a result, I often went along when my mum had treatment. Watching her get radiotherapy is my earliest memory. My parents were honest with me about it, a little too honest, i.e. mum may die. When I started school they realised I had really bad PTSD from it all. I was terrified that she might die while I was at school. My mum had to come with me to school for the first year. She then got a job at the school so I could see her every now and then and know she was ok. It depends a lot on age and method I suppose. My parents didn’t have any support system so I had to deal with the raw facts at a very young age. I recall operations, post-operative infections, and my mum in a lot of pain. She only recently got the all clear, so I’ve had to deal with the fear of losing my mum for 20 years. It does have a dramatic effect on kids, and that may not be apparent until much later.

Linny on

They’re 10 and 7 so they are aware of they’re surroundings. I think it’s great that Cathy and Michael told them and they are aware what’s happening.

My mom died of cancer when I was 5 and I can’t recall anyone told me about her being very sick when I was young. I didn’t know she died of cancer till about 5 years later. I had a very tough time getting over it and much of it traces back to my dad ignoring that I needed professional help.

I think children should be told because they are very sensitive and they pick up on everything. I think it’s great that Michael and Cathy are open about his cancer aswell as Cameron’s prison sentence.

iz on

i’m a firm believer that honesty doesn’t have to be cruel or negative. i believe that anything can be said to a child in an age appropriate manner. i commend the douglas family for taking this approach because they are spending quality time with their father that they will treasure as they grow. it might not be “fun times” but it’s a lot better than having them stuck at home wondering where daddy is and wondering why mom and dad get quiet when you walk into the room.

that being said, i am praying 1000000% for michael douglas. i know what it is like for a father to be diagnosed with a potentially terminal illness out of nowhere. in my opinion, its better to spend time with dad doing whatever (even if it is medical or whatever) than to not spend any time with him at all. i pray for his children and wife who deserve a healthy father and husband. its true that bad things happen to good people, sadly.

Manal on

I really hope he defeats cancer!!….

i read an article that says his son with Catherin is special needs.. is it true?..

madison on

I agree 100% with being open and honest with the kids about these things. Kids are more perceptive than people realize; they will know that something is up really quickly. Not the same thing since I was a teenager when my mother was diagnosed with an advanced form of cancer – but by my parents being honest with me, I only had to worry about my mother getting better, not whether or not there was more they weren’t telling me. I think if they held things from me, even when we got good news and I could feel some relief, I would have been worrying that maybe they weren’t telling me the whole story. It’s tough, I can’t even imagine being this young when it all happened – but life’s tough, and you can’t always and shouldn’t always shelter children from that fact. Of course you want your kids to be happy and carefree and not worry about these things; but unfortunately that’s not always possible or reality.

gdfg on

Linny, does Catherine Zeta-Jones go by Cathy? I didn’t know that.

Georgina on

Yes Manal, you are correct. Michael and Catherine moved from Bermuda to New York so Dylan could attend a school which was more suited to his needs. Michael doesnt elaborate on what they are, (not that he should), but it meant Miss Zeta-Jones could get her Tony so it can’t be bad!

This is the article I read it in: from:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1312962/My-son-Dylan-special-needs-Michael-Douglas-reveals-reason-family-left-Bermuda-New-York.html

Hea on

I totally agree with that approach. As a tumor survivor myself, I will tell my children the day I have them and they can understand that mom has a tumor that could change in the future.

momto3 on

Praying for a Full recovery and that he is able to watch his youngest children grow up to start families of their own!!!!

I HATE Cancer, We need to Find a CURE!!! Too many Good people are taken too early from such devestating diseases, Its not fair and I pray one day we will have a Magic pill that will rid the world of their pain and make them healthy again!! A stretch I’m sure, But its nice to dream of a cure!!!

Daisy! on

I really respect them for this. I was 11 when my father died and it was a total shock. I knew he had been in hospital but then he was home so innocent little me assumed he was better. No-one explained that he was so ill it had been decided he would return home for his final months. I am not angry or jaded by it. This is what my parents thought was best, but I feel it was wrong and it took me until I was 19 and older to finally accept and deal with grief. The Douglas’s are to be admired for their attitude to illness of a parent.

Hea on

I doubt we’ll ever find a cancer cure. Cancer is not just one disease, it’s hundreds. If we find the source then maybe, just maybe, we can isolate something that will work on a majority of the cancer types but I doubt that there is ONE cure.

Sky on

I doubt there is one cure too Hea but correct me if I’m wrong: Cancer is basically when cells duplicate continuously until it takes over your body. If someone could figure out how to stop the cells from duplicating then I think that would be a “cure”.

kay on

Sky, it’s a very complex genetic change. There are several genes and several steps involved. Basically cells mutate, devolve, and gain adaptive advantages, then they multiply rapidly and spread. Cancer kills because the growth takes nutrients and displaces other tissues. I don’t think we’ll find a cure anytime soon, but, there are a lot of potential treatments, such as using altered viruses, gene therapy, and nanotechnology, that hold real promise.

Hea on

Sky – Kind of but not quite. It’s really hard to explain.

Kay – Exactly. I don’t think there will be a CURE or a vaccine but I think there will be fast advances when it comes to treatment and great results with higher and higher survival rates.

marion on

direnda,so sorry i lost my sister and brother at same time with cancer — and i still have my mom. i also lost my dad with cancer when i was 24. i think there is a cure!!! we have to much technology and and very smart people.