Lung Cancer is an 80 year old smoker’s disease, right? WRONG Lung Cancer can happen to anybody, young, old, healthy, marathon runner etc. If you have lungs, you can get lung cancer. My wife is only 39 and we have two daughters who are five and eight. When a parent has cancer it will affect the children, there is no way to avoid this. Children are intuitive and have sharp ears. It is one thing to deal with your spouse having Lung Cancer, but it’s a whole other challenge speaking to children about it.
When Molly got diagnosed we were asked to speak to a social worker by our oncologist. My first question to the social worker was, how do we tell our children? The social worker who had the social skills of a moth and obviously did not have children gave me “My Mommy has Cancer” coloring books for them. I looked at the depressing book and almost through it in her face. I knew we had to deal with this our way.
The biggest challenge we had was changing the meaning of cancer to our daughters. Eight months before Molly’s diagnosis our little dog Roxie who we have had for 13 years died of cancer thus girls only associated cancer with death. Molly explained to the girls that mommy is a lot younger than Roxie and she can take a little pill that makes her better. This in combination of watching their mom physically get better helped them. At this stage we do not see a point to worry them about treatment resistance and other complications that can happen in the future. Their mother is better right now and as far as we know she will be for a long time.
The subject of cancer comes up in our household once in a while. We encourage our daughters to ask us any questions they have about cancer because their little imaginations can go wild. Last week Madison, my older daughter asked us if she could catch cancer like catching a cold from a schoolmate. This question as silly as it may sound to an adult it’s not silly to a child. They have been thrown in to a world that most adults don’t know how to handle. We answered the question as simply as we could and I was amazed how fast she got it.
Last month my daughters received a care package from stepsons of a friend who their daddy has Lung Cancer. The look on my daughters reading the letter was so fascinating that I had to take a picture (see above). Now they know they are not the only ones that their mommy or daddy has cancer. They wanted to send something back to the boys right away. Dillan, my five year old wanted to send them her Barbie dolls, I told her that may not be a best gift idea for little boys. We settled on some chocolate and sea shells instead. 🙂
To conclude, when it comes to children you as a parent are the best judge of what to do. Nobody knows your children better than you do. My heart goes out to all the children out there who are affected by their parent’s Lung Cancer. I’m dedicating this blog to you.