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If your mom has breast cancer, you probably have a lot of questions about what’s going to happen to her and to your family. You may be worried, sad and even angry about your mom’s sickness. One way to deal with your worries is to find out exactly what’s going on with mom and how her sickness may affect you.
“One way to deal with your worries is to find out exactly what’s going on with mom and how her sickness may affect you.”
Here’s some important information about breast cancer and how it may affect your mom and your family:
Here is a website you can visit, made especially for kids who have parents with cancer.
Help Mom Feel Better: How You Can Help Mom After Breast Cancer Surgery
If your mom just had breast cancer surgery, you’re probably very happy to have her back home from the hospital. But mom may not be back to her usual self right away. She may be feeling tired or sad and she may need more help from you than usual. Here are some things you can do to help mom while she’s recovering from her surgery.
Give mom a hug and tell her how much you love her. If she’s lying in bed, you can sit next to her and hold her hand. You don’t even have to say anything. For mom to feel your love is the most important thing.
If mom is feeling tired, you can spend quiet time with her watching TV, reading or resting. Your company can make a big difference in making mom feel better.
Tell mom about what you’ve been doing in school or about some of the fun things you’ve been doing with friends. Mom probably feels sad about missing out on your life and she’ll feel better if you tell her about what’s been going on.
If mom isn’t too tired, bring an activity to do with her. You can bring a book to read or a coloring book to draw in. Another idea is to look through some old family albums together. Mom wants to be a part of your life, and doing fun things together is a good way to include her.
Let Mom know you want to help and ask her if she needs anything. She may need more help with household chores for a while, while she’s getting better. Even just bringing mom a drink or making sure your room is clean can be a big help.
Make mom something special. A card, a picture or a crafts project can help show mom how much you care and she can keep your special gift near her bed to cheer her up if she’s feeling sad.
Telling Friends About Mom: How to Answer Your Friends’ Questions about Mom’s Breast Cancer
If your mom has breast cancer your friends will probably want to know about it. They might ask you questions that you think are embarrassing or that you don’t feel like answering. It’s up to you whether or not you want to talk about it. Just remember that your good friends probably want to help you and that you may feel better if you talk to them about how mom’s doing and how you feel about her sickness.
Here are some of the questions your friends might ask and some answers you can give them:
Question: What’s wrong with your mom?
Answer: My mom has a sickness called breast cancer. She’s getting treatment for it and some of the treatments make her feel bad. I’m helping her to feel better.
Question: Are you sick too?
Answer: No, I’m not sick and nobody else in my family, except for Mom, is sick. Cancer isn’t contagious. It’s not like a cold or the flu. Mom didn’t catch it from anyone and I can’t catch it from her. You won’t catch it from her, either, even if you come over to my house.
Question: Do you have to stay home with your mom all the time?
Answer: I try to be with mom and help her when she needs me, but I don’t have to be there all the time. I don’t have as much time as I did before, but I still want to play and do fun stuff with my friends.
Question: Are you allowed to have friends over?
Answer: Sometimes when mom isn’t feeling well we have to be quiet, and then it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to have friends over. But mom wants me to play with my friends and she knows that it helps me to have them around. So we can play at my house or go do fun stuff together just like we always did.
Question: Is your mom going to die?
Answer: Just because mom has breast cancer doesn’t mean she’s going to die. Mom’s getting treatments that will probably get rid of the cancer so that she can get better and live for a long time.
Talking With Children and Family Members
How you communicate with family members as you are fighting cancer will depend on your relationship with them before you were diagnosed. Some women have very close-knit families that help them every step of the way through their treatment. Others have strained relationships and feel the need to share information about their illness only with certain people. How you handle family members is up to you; only you know your comfort level in handling these delicate relationships.
Children can bring up very different concerns, and this can be hard for many women. If you were diagnosed with cancer before you were able to start a family, the children of others may remind you of the reality that you are not able to have children of your own, or that you may not be able to breastfeed later. This tremendous sense of loss is one of the most difficult feelings to handle. Working through the sadness and pain of this loss may involve connecting with other children in your life who need the special attention that only you can provide.
At this point, what you tell children and how you talk about cancer becomes central to your relationship with them. Most of us know children who are inquisitive and unafraid to ask the awkward questions that most adults would not. This behavior tells us that children notice and try to understand many of the complex issues around them. If you have lost your hair, or are feeling bad, children will notice and ask you why. If you look different than other adults who they know, or have a physical limitation as a result of your cancer diagnosis, they will ask you about that too.
It may help to know how most children process and understand the idea of cancer, especially when a parent has cancer, and how they cope with this knowledge.
The ability of a child to understand your illness and treatment is often based on age.
Children of all ages have some traits in common. First, they understand events in their lives in relationship to themselves first. This may be confused with being self-centered or ‘spoiled’ when it is a logical way of understanding. Second, children need to repeat the same questions until they have mastered a concept. The younger the child, the more repetitive. This can be maddening for the adult. For example, a 5-year-old may ask every morning for five days straight, “Where is Mommy?” only to be told over and over again that Mommy is in the hospital. Third, children ask questions and talk in small doses, often abruptly changing the subject when they have had enough. This is not insensitivity, but rather a method for coping with anxiety or cognitive “overload.” Finally, children have different issues than adults, often dictated by limits in understanding. For example, adults may be upset over a threatened loss, which is beyond the imagination of many adolescents. On the other hand, children tolerate helplessness better than most adults, because it is a more common experience in their daily lives. Additionally, children often teach adults about joy in the moment and acceptance.
There is a universal rule when talking with children about serious subjects — answer only the question they ask, and don’t assume that they are asking more than what they have actually said. If you can do this, you can help the children in your life understand the information you are telling them a little at a time, which is easiest for any child.
Adult children can present different challenges and concerns, which are no less important or emotional in nature. Many adult children of cancer survivors are very supportive and loving when a parent has breast cancer. For female children, however, dealing with their mother’s breast cancer diagnosis can be especially difficult when they realize that their parent’s diagnosis brings them increased risk. Often, female children will wonder if they are going to get breast cancer, and if they do, will it be like your experience with the disease.
Many women feel angry at the possibility that they might die before their children have fully grown, lived their lives, accomplished great things and started a family. Children often feel angry at the possibility that they might lose their mother sooner than they expected.
Dealing with these difficult feelings can be affected by where your children live, and whether or not they are close to you or far away. Many parents are emotionally closer to children who live near to them: this can affect how much you share with your children and how often.