Your children can usually tell when something is bothering you. As a parent, you want to protect your children-- but for them, sensing that something is wrong and not being able to talk to you about it, often causes a great deal of fear and worry. Talking to your children at a level that is right for their ages and personalities can help make both you and your children feel a greater sense of control during this difficult time. Have faith in your children’s ability to handle the news. Being truthful with your children will give them a better understanding of what you're going through and will give them the opportunity to share their feelings and concerns.
Some factors you may want to consider to help you talk with your child about your cancer are:
Talk it out. No matter how much you prepare for the conversation, you may still have questions. If you're having trouble deciding how or if to tell your children, your healthcare team may be able to give you advice. You can also contact The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) chapter in your area or an LLS Information Specialist (800-955-4572). Visit the LLS Blood Cancer Discussion Boards to speak with other parents. In addition visit www.lls.org to review our vast information for patients and caregivers, and contact national and local offices for additional support.
Have you ever considered asking the tooth fairy for a donation? That's exactly what Audry Liles did while participating in The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's School & Youth Program.- Pennies for Patients. When I heard about this, it reminded me just how powerful children can be. I'm enclosing the note sent to us from Jennifer Liles, Audrey's Mom.
This is the 2nd year my daughter has participated in 'Pennies for Patients' at her elementary school, Piney Point Elementary School, Tall Timbers, MD. Today she brought home the information and emptied her piggy bank to fill up the box for the LLS program. My daughter just turned seven and is in the 1st grade.
After dinner she asked me for a blank piece of paper to write a letter the tooth fairy and asked me not to look. When she got done this is what she had written:
(I have not edited grammar or spelling)
Dear tooth fairy we are having a thing at school called Make change beat cancer. We have to send money to the school and donate to other people that don't have the money to buy the medicine for there sick kids. So I was thinking you could come to my house tonight and leave me money so I can bring it to school. Love, Audrey Liles
This made my heart melt and I really felt the need to share it with you.
Thank you, Jennifer Likes (Audrey's Mom). We're always amazed at the impact children are making on the lives of patients with cancer. This year alone, more than 15 million students raised $26 million through our School & Youth Programs to help beat cancer. We are grateful for people like Audrey, her mom Jennifer, and for all tooth fairies. Your support makes a difference. For more information about LLS's vital work, visit www.lls.org.
Today, we're sharing a story from Stacy who not only had to deal with the loss of her job last year, but was also diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma.
2009 was not my year to say the least. First I got laid off from my job in banking. I am single and do not have children so my career was a large part of my life and my identity. In order to deal with the situation, I decided I was going to turn it into a positive experience and use the time to do all the things I never had time for before. I joined a running group and ran my first race, volunteered at an arts and crafts program for homeless children, attended yoga class regularly, traveled a little and took my dog for walks in the park daily. I had finally stopped to smell the roses.
A few months later I found a lump in my neck. Although I thought it was probably nothing, I had a nagging feeling that I should go to the doctor. I did go and that was the day my life changed forever - I was diagnosed with advanced stage Hodgkin lymphoma that had been found in eight lymph nodes throughout my body. My treatment was six months of chemotherapy and my prognosis was 50/50. I was numb and in a fog yet my mind was racing with questions like "Do they make chemo that doesn't make your hair fall out?" and "How much time do I have left?"
I have a wonderful supportive family and friends but I felt as if no one really understood what I was going through. A social worker at Massachusetts General Hospital recommended The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Patti Robinson Kaufmann First Connection Program. Through conversations with my First Connection volunteer we learned that not only did we have the same name, but our moms have the same name also. We are only a few years apart in age and she was diagnosed at the same age as I was. She is at the same career level, lives alone, is a dog owner, loves flowers and gardening, has long dark hair, and even went to high school with my cousin. We had so much in common that I felt as if I had known her for a lifetime. This person who is so much like me had gone through the same experience and made it through. She became my inspiration.
I am pleased to say this story does have a happy ending. In January I found out that I am in remission, in May I started a new job and in June I traveled to Ohio and got to meet my peer connection!
When I think back on the last few months and 2009, I would hope that anyone going through an experience like mine remembers to live every minute with every ounce of his or her being. They may feel that they can't get through this, but they will surprise themselves when they find out that they do have the strength inside to fight the toughest battle of their life. And when they win, life will be sweeter and more precious than they ever thought it could be. Your support makes a difference. For more information about LLS's vital work, visit www.LLS.org.