Jennifer, founder of footprintsinpink.com, for our Feature Friday today!
How can a family stay “normal” when mom is going through breast cancer?
There is nothing normal about breast cancer. It affects every member of the family, even the dog, but if the family changes their expectations, your family can stay as “normal” as possible while mom recovers.
When I was going through chemo, I asked my mom to move in with me (as a single mom, I needed a lot of help). My daughter was a freshman in high school. This was not a great time for her mom to get cancer, but cancer does not come when it is convenient, it just happens. I was determined to keep normality in my household. I knew that was important for a better place to heal for me, as well as, for my daughter.
Moms are the “glue that holds our families together”, she is the one that makes the lunches in the morning, takes the kids to school, cooks dinner and makes sure that everyone is where they should be exactly on time. Cancer will affect that. Mom will not feel good, she will most likely be tired and she will most likely have some really bad days.
Now that a family understands that,
here are 4 ways to keep things as normal as possible.
- Get support from loved ones and friends– Reach out and get help. Ask your friends and family to take your kids to school, after school activities and play dates. (I know this is hard for moms to do). Their routine is very important. Consistency and stability will help the kids feel normal. My daughter went to her first formal dance, joined the track team and started dating while I was going through treatment.
- Find new and different ways to fulfill family time– Embrace new family time. Mom will most likely not be able to go on a 20 mile hike or cook a 7 course meal while she is going through chemo, but this is the time to find new adventures that can accommodate mom’s good days. My daughter and I had family movie night, decorated Christmas cookies and I taught her how to crochet. These times were filled with laughter and excitement.
- Talk to your children- Children are resilient and they deserve the truth. Tell your children about your cancer when they ask. You will have to judge what your young children can understand. Remember don’t tell it all at once. Cancer is overwhelming and too much information creates nervousness, anxiety and stress. My teenager didn’t really want to know what was going on, but when she asked a question, I gave her a good solid honest answer. (Also don’t forget to inform your child’s teacher about the family situation, he/she needs to monitor behavioral changes if they happen).
- Work together as a family- Families are strong during a crisis. Bring the family together to get through the highs and lows. It is amazing how strong families get when the “chips are down” when the “glue” of the family is not well. My daughter and I laughed and cried together during this time. She became my “glue” and encouraged me to get better every day. Cancer actually draws families closer.
Cancer is not normal. Families can embrace the good days and acknowledge the bad days. Recognize the challenges and celebrate the wins. Love mom, Listen to mom, Hold mom’s hand and understand that mom will get better soon.
Jennifer Kennedy is a two-time breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed the first time at age 32 and was recently diagnosed last year at age 50. She has spent her career working in non-profits and now works as the Director of Footprints In Pink, an organization that provides free resources all over this nation to women that have been newly diagnosed with breast cancer or are going through treatment.
Footprints In Pink
PO Box 801784
Valencia, CA 91355