When I was going through cancer, my kids were teens. My daughter was at her first year of college and my son was starting his senior year of high school…
I told them I had cancer and didn’t explain nothing about it. For this I have some regrets. I was a single parent, and I was doing everything I could to stay strong for them – to act like nothing was wrong. Sigh. Hindsight sure is a kicker ain’t it? I did end up talking with my son near the end of my treatments about how hard cancer treatments on me, but it was only after he saw my digital story (on story page: “Reflections on Chemotherapy”).
My daughter thought about leaving college and I said no, I got this, stay in school… When she came home for Christmas break, I had just completed my third round of chemotherapy. I was feeling awful. But her and I went out together for lunch to celebrate my birthday lunch and I was having problems trying to eat, and I started crying right there in the restaurant. I was apologizing left and right to my daughter for crying. I told her how hard the chemotherapy was on me. She sat there and listened to me, then she told me, it’s OK mom, it’s OK… We were able to talk about it, and I’m glad we did. I didn’t feel like I had to “act like nothing was wrong” any longer.
I was scared a lot. I kept thinking about the “what ifs” and “what about my kids?” I was in the process of writing up my wishes just in case, and I never did finish writing them. It was just too painful for me. Instead I just kept going on as best as I could. I kept writing in a blog, which my kids read every now and then. I was sharing my story so I could help other Alaska Native and American Indian People who had cancer. I wanted to help others to understand what they were up against. I also shared if they were parents, I shared information with them on how to talk with their children. I shared they had tell their kids as their cancer journey was also going to affect them…
I wish you peace, wellness and strength.
For Children/teens: Telling Your Friends Your Parent has Cancer
Rochelle’s digital story about not knowing about cancer:
“Many communities forget that cancer journeys affect the children too. We may become so wrapped up in our “adult” problems that children are often left in the dark about why things are changing around them. After watching my story, I hope you think about the fact that sharing your story has no age limit. Children have different levels of understanding. It doesn’t mean we should discount their feelings or involvement.” – Rochelle Andrews