Lauren’s mom Nancy was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer just after Lauren’s 10th birthday. Lauren just turned 14 and her mom is doing great.
When parents tell their children that one of them has breast cancer, it will be emotionally overwhelming. Children will worry about whether or not their parent will die and what will happen to them.
Here’s some advice for other kids who find themselves in that situation:
This can be hard because children will have to watch their parent get really sick. For many, believing that they’ll get better helps prevent constant worrying.
Kids don’t always get the scoop on what’s going on. Sometimes adults think little ones don’t need to know everything, but they often want to know. Parents can travel a lot for cancer appointments, but when they come home, it can be helpful to show photos of the doctors, the hospital, their hotel room and the restaurants they visited. Sharing details of what you did can help. Encourage your children to ask if they have questions. Talking about it can make everyone feel better.
Don’t drop out.
This might sound harsh, but try to get kids to keep living their lives as normally as they can. If they’re in sports or drama, make sure they keep going to practice. Try to maintain a normal schedule. Help them understand that dropping out is not going to help their parent get better, and staying busy can help them keep their mind off cancer.
Pack a bag.
Make sure kids have someone they really like that they can call at the last minute in case they need to spend the night somewhere. Cancer patients may have to go to the emergency room. Situations like this can be scary, so it’s important kids have a place they feel safe and can have fun. It’s also a good idea to always keep a bag packed just in case.
Don’t complain about the food.
Kids may not get their favorite meals for a while, but try to explain why. This can help them understand that now’s not the time to be needy. It isn’t the time to voice a preference for broccoli over asparagus. Look at the bright side: family members will often come over to cook, or kids may get to go out for dinner a lot.
Appreciate your “babysitters.”
Other people will often take over child-rearing duties while parents are busy with doctors’ appointments and treatment. These caretakers often won’t do things they way kids are used to, which is both good and bad. They won’t necessarily know how to make kids’ favorite meals, but they’ll often do fun things like jump on the trampoline and go hiking, things parents may not do.
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