It’s October, that means cooler weather, changing leaves, and breast cancer awareness month.  Nearly everyone I know has known someone with breast cancer.  No doubt, it’s scary for everyone involved.  Today, I write for those moms who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. 

Having survived one cancer before I can somewhat relate; upon diagnosis my thoughts immediately turn to my children.  How would it affect them?  What if during treatment I couldn’t take care of them, or worse be around in their future.  Who will take care of my kids?  What will this do to my marriage? If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer fear is absolutely expected.  Not just for you, but for your kids as well.  Once you can acknowledge your own fears you will be able to help your children with theirs too.  While there have been studies that associate an unhealthy weight with certain cancers it’s important to remember that this is not your fault. You did not get cancer because you ate an unhealthy diet. Even if you routinely did breast exams, you still could be where you are today.  This is not your fault. 

Accepting help may be the hardest thing for you to ever do, but it could be the smartest.  If you spend all of the energy you do have on cleaning your house you will have less energy for playing with your kids.  Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family to help pitch in around the house.  No one will think less of you.  If friends offer to cook for you, say yes!  Be upfront about what your kids will and will not eat!  Maybe even offer some family recipes if you have it in you.  It is important if your kids are school age to make the school aware of your diagnosis.  It isn’t imperative that everyone in the school knows, but make sure someone does.  They can help watch your kids for signs of depression.  Lots of times when kids are faced with this type of situation their grades and relationships suffer.  Keeping an eye on these things can help the kids get the emotional support they need quickly and efficiently. 

Another thing you can do to help your kids is make them aware of things pertaining to them that will be changing.  What activities they may not be able to continue (such as after school stuff so you can keep doctors appointments etc).  Keeping a big calendar where they can see it might help.  Be honest with your kids about what changes your body might go through.  Even little kids will benefit from knowing in advance what might happen.  If you tell them you might lose your hair it won’t be so frightening when they do.  Kids love their mommies and they will want to help you any way they can.  For younger kids, simply sending them on an errand will make them feel like they have a touch more control than they really do.  Things like getting you your slippers, drawing you pictures, or helping pick out a wig, hat, or scarf might mean the world to them.  Just make sure they understand that it is not their job to take care of you, but instead their job to play and have fun. 

 Helping is okay, but you are not their responsibility.  It may seem like too much, having to care for your children and yourself at the same time, but you can do it.  You might just do it a little bit differently than you did before.  It’s important for you and your kids to remember that treatment doesn’t last forever.

-Stephanie Wright

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