menreeq wrote:I suspect this is a topic/thread that others have discussed before; please send me a link if you know of one.
My daughters are 6 and 2 years old. My older daughter was 5 when I got the diagnosis. I'm about to start cycle 4 of neoadjuvant chemotherapy (Xeloda monotherapy). We had informal consults with a child life specialist, our pediatrician friends, and a social worker at my oncologist's office. All asking the same question. What should we tell the kids?
My toddler is too young to understand, but she was old enough to know mommy was hurt and couldn't pick her up for 6 weeks. She would look at and touch my port scars. My kindergartener is very attuned to my feelings. She was pretty upset about the prep process for colonoscopy and surgery. I didn't tell her about chemotherapy -- just that I have medicines for the sickness that required surgery. Funny, we were explaining to her how I had to go to the hospital to get a sickness cut out of me. She said "you're gonna have a surgery?" Thank you, Doc McStuffins.
So what did you tell your kids? What would you advise? Any regrets?
Some day I have to tell them they need to start getting colonoscopies at age 30.
menreeq wrote:Thank you all for sharing your experiences and advice. We also were advised to be open, honest and age appropriate. It's this last one that I tread carefully with. My 6 year old is very verbal and picks up on a lot. She is also a bit of a worrywart and takes quick dives to worst case scenarios. Every night she asks me if the North Bay fires will reach us. She can smell the smoke, and I have been honest with her about the devastation. She knows some of her local firefighters have gone to help. She is grappling with the permanence of death. I kinda don't want to bring that home right now.
So what I haven't said is either C word -- Cancer and Chemotherapy. She knows I had a sickness. She has told her friends how mommy was in the bathroom for hours, lol. She knows I'm taking medicine for this sickness and it makes my hands and feet hurt. I haven't used the words because I think she is still too young. She repeats a lot, and I think that I am more concerned about how other adults will respond, and that she will pick up on their concern. I am rolling with the idea that I am cured (my preferred C word). But if she tells her teacher or a friend's mom, I am concerned they'll react as though I'm dying right now. Y'all know what I mean, right?
WriterGirl, I saw your original post and BeansMama's response last night when I was searching the forum. I also liked BeansMama's perspective. I've been following the updates on her surgery and clinical course. Glad to hear she is on the up and up. I agree on the idea of caregiving. I did love watching my girls take care of me post surgery. My 2 year old's way was to say "hurt hurt" and not cry when I couldn't carry her due to weight restrictions. My 6 year old could do way more, including brushing my hair when I was resting and going on walks with me. I am not hiding that I had surgery and am taking meds. What I haven't discussed is what cancer is and that people can die from it. I think part of why I haven't is that I am living like I'm already NED. So I feel like I am not hiding anything from her. Should I need to undergo more than Xeloda -- hospital admission, SBO, port placement, etc -- I think I would approach it differently and explain more. Am I naive or overly optimistic?
CAGirl wrote:Hi Menreeq,
I am in Northern California, too. (My profile name is meant to be California Girl, not "Cancer Girl.) Berkeley. You?
My girls were 3 and 6 when I was diagnosed in February.
I finished chemo about a month ago (Yippee!)
I felt like I did well by preparing my daughter "some people who go through chemo lose their hair, but I won't", so that when she mentioned to her friend at school that I had cancer, who friend said I would go bald, and my daughter replied, "No, she doesn't have hair cancer." I can imagine her fears if I hadn't shared with her that detail.
Here's what I wrote on an earlier post:
I felt the same way in mid-February of this year. Being a mother tends to shift your focus a bit. I was so sad about the possibility that they would be motherless. I remember the first weekend after my colonoscopy, I felt like I was caught in a big wave and couldn't get out.
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