March 3, 2019
There is absolutely no manual for this. There is no right or wrong way. There is only love, perspective and honesty, but only as much as they’re able to process depending on their age.
This photo marks the last 24 hours of childhood innocence. No cares, no stress, no worries. In 24 hours we will be telling Teagan and John that I have breast cancer.
When I found out I immediately thought of them. How to tell them, what they would think, how scared they would be to see their mom go through this. All I’ve ever wanted to do is protect them and from this I just can’t. This will be especially hard on Teagan. She’s my girl and we are so incredibly close. She’s a nurturer with the biggest heart. She will want to know how to fix it. She also knows that we just lost my Aunt Nancy to breast cancer two years ago. She remembers. John will want to know if he can still snuggle with me and won’t sweat the small stuff. They are the reason I will be the best at this. Better than anyone has ever been. I am grateful that I get to show them what strength looks like. That they will be able to watch me and learn. We meet with my Oncologist tomorrow morning at 8am and should know the plan then. I am ready to move forward! It messed with the wrong girl.
June 6, 2022
It was very important to me that they didn’t know until we had a plan. I didn’t want to tell them there was a problem before we had identified a solution or before I had any answers for them. I wanted to be able to reassure them and to do that, you need to have as much information as possible. When we did sit down with them, Teagan was 10.5 and John had just turned 8. I could tell by the look on Teagan’s face that she thought my cancer was the size of a watermelon, so I immediately grabbed a pen and paper and drew two circles in the size of 2.4cm and 0.4cm. She immediately exhaled and felt so much better about what we were facing. She now felt it was doable.
To explain to John, I told him there was a bug in my boob. Anytime anyone in our family had a cold or a cough we said they had a bug so I felt this was the best way to explain what was going on. He took it in stride, told me “I love you” and ran off to play. Ahhh boys…
I really wanted this to be a team effort and get everyone involved. I knew if I could do things to get them on-board and feel like they were contributing, that it might help them process the trauma better and faster. Once we had the treatment schedules, Teagan made countdown calendars so that they could cross off every treatment on our march towards being done. They loved it and it made them feel like they were also accomplishing something. When each of the treatments were done (chemo, radiation, then maintenance treatments) they fed those countdown calendars to the shredder and burned one in the firepit outside! Mission accomplished…Little team steps towards victory!
BreastCancer.org has some great tips on talking to your kid(s) about this. Please check them out! Some highlights include:
- Plan out the conversation in advance
- Use direct, simple language to define what cancer is, where it is in your body, and how it will be treated
- Make sure children know that the cancer isn’t their fault and they cannot “catch” it
- Tell children how treatment for cancer will affect you
- Reassure children that their needs will be met
- Keep usual limits in place
- Invite children to ask questions and learn more
- Let children know you will still make time for them
- Set a positive, optimistic tone without making promises
- Let teachers, school counselors, coaches, and other caregivers know what is going on
Peace, Love & Kicking Ass… 💗