Being a single mother is hard and when you are sick, you are still mommy and on mommy duty no matter what. London is my 8 year old daughter and when I was diagnosed with breast cancer she was only 5 years old. I always say that when I was diagnosed, she was too. London had to go through each and every step of the breast cancer process with me.
This is London’s fight…
When I found out that I had breast cancer, I immediately thought about my 5 year old daughter. How do you explain to a child that you have cancer? What it is? And what it will do to you? I didn’t know but what I did know was that I had to explain what mommy was about to go through and that she would look different for a while. After I was diagnosed in May 2013, everything went so fast, I had no time to really think about how I would explain things to London.
I sat London down to explain that mommy was sick and that she had breast cancer. The first thing that London asked was “Mommy are you going to die?” That broke my heart! My baby was scared. It made me realize that I had to fight and be strong for her. I explained that I was not going to die and that God had me. We prayed together and I made sure to explain every step and process to her before things occurred. I also tried to make sure that her world was not rocked too much because of what I was going through. She continued to participate in cheerleading and got to to spend time with her friends as much as possible. In addition to our talks, London was given a book from my Nurse Navigator called Mommy and Me…Taking Care of Each Other. This book explained the process that I would go through and came with a doll that also went through the process. After reading the book, I felt like London had a better understanding of what I was going through.
Although she now had a better understanding, it was obvious that what I was going through had a significant impact on her. When school started in August, London began to act out and she started acting as if she was a baby again (crying, whining, and peeing the bed). I knew that my baby was hurting but I didn’t know how to help her, so I reached out to her school counselor. The school counselor told me that sometimes this happens when a child goes through trauma. She began to see London on a weekly basis so that London would have an outlet. She would draw pictures of me with no hair and make breast cancer ribbon signs. I remember London always wanting to sleep with me, to make sure I was okay. She didn’t even want to spend the night out. Her behaviors went on for about two months. Once London started to see that my hair was growing back she began to feel more comfortable. She knew that mommy was “getting better.”
To this day, London continues to read Mommy and Me…Taking Care of Each Other. She says that the book helps her feel better when she is sad about the cancer. Although I am now in remission, she knows that I still have a lot of appointments and medications to take. She doesn’t tell me but she still fears for me. Every chance I get, I let her know that I love her and that God is taking good care of mommy.
London is 8 now and has grown so much. She now wants to help raise money for any type cancer. When she hears the word cancer she’s jumping to donate. Cancer hasn’t only changed my life but it’s changed her’s.
How did you involve your kids in your cancer diagnosis, treatments, and recovery? Did you find any helpful resources or tips along the way?