To K, and any mom facing cancer

Hi, K.  I’m Susan, from Toddler Planet.  My little boy, the second love of my life, was 2 1/2 when I was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, an extremely rapidly progressing form of breast cancer that includes rapid swelling, painful to the touch, and quick progression.  He picked up on it immediately.  When I rested, he rested.  When I didn’t feel good, he didn’t feel good.  When my hair started to fall out, he pulled his own hair out.  It was heartbreaking.

But 6 months of treatment (chemo) later, we are nearing the end of the bad times and he is also able to celebrate with us.  He pulled off my cap the other day and noticed with delight that “mom’s hair grow up!”  Then he told daddy, “Mom’s hair grow up, that means she’s getting better,” something I had told him would happen weeks and months earlier and he retained all that time.  He is happier now, and although we still have rough parts to go (surgery and radiation for me), I know that he’s in a good spot and so am I.

Try to establish some daddy-daughter routines if you can.  For instance, I go to the hospital on Thursdays for chemo.  When I come home, I fall into bed.  We made that time a special time, and my 3 year old and I watch kid movies and read books in Mama’s bed every Thursday afternoon and Friday while I don’t feel well.  He runs down to play with Dad, Grampa, or friends a lot, but he gravitates back to my side, and it’s incredibly comforting to both of us. 

Maybe your husband would like to take over the bedtime routine of reading books, etc?  I found that easier to do than changing the kids or taking them outside to play, for instance, especially on my hard days.

There will be hard days.  But we tried to work through them as a family and involve everyone in most parts (not the tough discussions; those we saved for after bedtime), and I hope you can too.

By all means, come by my blog and say hi, talk, ask, or just listen.  Cancer is hard.  Cancer with little ones at home is no less hard. 

My heart goes out to you….

Oh, and sorry to talk so much like this, but I do have one other concrete suggestion: ask a friend to take some family photos of you guys having fun together now, before the chemo begins, and frame a few to put in her room or the playroom where she will see them. It will remind her that Daddy hasn’t always looked sick and that you guys are a team. Because you are a team, and you will come through this together.published into the archives on 12/30/07

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