Even though my children were young when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I knew they wanted to be there for me. I have completed a bit of research on how cancer affects the parent-child relationship. One of the biggest questions most children have, no matter their age, is “How can I help my mom through cancer?”
No matter how old you might be, hearing your mother has cancer can be scary and emotionally devastating. Your mom has been with you your entire existence, and the idea of losing her seems almost impossible. But please keep in mind that a breast cancer diagnosis is not an automatic death sentence, not by a long shot. Survival rates are increasing by the day, and so are new treatment options, with researchers working around the clock. Breathe and think with cautious optimism.
Before we talk about the specifics of how you can help your mother, I want to tell you what your mom needs more than anything. Your mother wants you to take care of yourself, and to never quit on your goals. Yes, she wants you to be there for her and see you. However, she does not want you to stop your life by helping her with her life.
As a mother who had cancer, I wanted my children to have fun and keep their normal routine as much as possible. I had children so they would grow to be strong and independent, kind people. It would have killed me if they were crying all the time, or constantly worried about my health.
That said, these are some other things that can do to help your mom during her breast cancer battle.
Be there for her. When time allows, visit your mom and talk to her. You can talk about feelings and fears. Be honest and open, and she will feel more comfortable being honest with you. You don’t need to constantly talk, either. You can play games, cook together, go to the mall, attend an event or work on a project together. If you don’t live that close, call and text her whenever you can. Send her a get-well card, or something to help cheer her up. Write her emails. She needs to know you are out there caring for her the best way that you are able.
Help at home. Lend a hand any way you can. Cook meals, clean the house or do some laundry. Ask her what would be the best way to help.
Open your ears and heart. Sadly, you might not always agree with your mom’s options for treatment. You might want her to do one thing, and she might want to do the complete opposite. Feel free to express your concerns and reasons why you think that she should do a certain treatment, but never force her to do what you want. Only she and her doctor know what her body can take.
Spend time. A cancer diagnosis has a way of making us quickly realize that we are all on Earth for a limited time. Take the time with your mom. Write down memories, take the pictures, memorize the details. Love her and thank her for all she has done. Let her know the positive ways that she has shaped your life. Ask all the questions you need.
Become an informed advocate. Take the time to research her type of breast cancer, her doctors, the hospital, nurses and treatments. Education is always key, and if you are going to be her advocate, you must be informed. Offer to go with her for medical consultations, remind her about second opinions, and be present whenever you can for treatments.
Your mother loves you more than anything and knows your heart. Just breathe, try to do whatever you can, and learn what you can. You can do this because she loves you.
Note: Breast Cancer News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Breast Cancer News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to breast cancer.