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Topic: Having cancer and small children

Forum: Family and Family Planning Matters —

A comforting place to discuss planning a family, fertility concerns, parenting children, or relationship issues with partners, siblings, or parents following a diagnosis.

Posted on: Feb 17, 2016 09:52PM

heidi16 wrote:

I have just been diagnosed with IDC, grade 3 (staging etc. pending). I am a stay-at-home mom with a 2 year old and wonder if anyone can share their tips to minimize the effects that this "change" will have on small children? Any advice from moms with toddlers while undergoing treatment greatly appreciated!

Dx 2/17/2016, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IB, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (FISH) Surgery 3/8/2016 Lumpectomy: Right Chemotherapy 4/27/2016 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Radiation Therapy 8/2/2016 Hormonal Therapy 9/30/2016 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Feb 17, 2016 10:33PM Tresjoli2 wrote:

so...I have a three year old. She was two when I was diagnosed. I also have a 9yo. First off, you can do this! Second, use your resources. If you call the American cancer society, they have great articles on how to share in an age appropriate way. The social worker at your hospital probably also has great books and resources for how to tell kids. Mine did. I waited until I knew my treatment plan before I said anything. I told my daughter I had a boo boo and the doctor had to give me medicine to make it better. I warned her the medicine would make my hair fall out, but I made a joke out of it. " can u believe that mommys medicine has to make her sick so she can get better? Crazy!" I made it silly, and that made her feel safe. I let her pick out my scarves each day for my head so she felt like she had an important job to do each day

There is also a practical side to this. I started teaching my daughter how to climb into the car seat all by herself. I taught her how to climb onto the change table, and put the change table next to her bed. I bought a large play fence so I could set her safely inside when I needed to rest. I put drinks in a low drawer in the fridge and taught her how to get a juice box on her own. You won't be able to lift after surgery. I trained her to rest her head on my "good side" not my " port side".

Just do the best you can. She ate too many chicken nuggets. She watched too much tv. We stayed in bed all day sometimes. I would drag toys into bed with us.

i won't lie. It was hard. It was actually harder for her than for my older child, because he could ask questions and understand the answers. She couldn't, but you will make it work mama! You will be amazed at how you rise to the occasion. Hugs. Pm me anytime!

Diagnosed at age 40 after going for my baseline mammogram. Dx 4/21/2015, IDC, Left, <1cm, Stage IA, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (FISH) Dx 4/21/2015, DCIS, Left, 4cm, Stage 0, Grade 3 Surgery 5/18/2015 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Targeted Therapy 6/19/2015 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Chemotherapy 6/19/2015 Taxol (paclitaxel) Chemotherapy 8/7/2015 Abraxane (albumin-bound or nab-paclitaxel) Radiation Therapy 9/23/2015 Whole-breast: Breast Hormonal Therapy 10/11/2015 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Feb 17, 2016 11:39PM heidi16 wrote:

Wow, those are all great advice, thanks alot! I have been most concerned about the hair loss and the restrictions during postsurgical recovery in the immediate future and you addressed them both!

Dx 2/17/2016, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IB, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (FISH) Surgery 3/8/2016 Lumpectomy: Right Chemotherapy 4/27/2016 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Radiation Therapy 8/2/2016 Hormonal Therapy 9/30/2016 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Feb 18, 2016 09:23AM Zillsnot4me wrote:

it is doable and they will take their cue from you. Mine were one and four when I was dx. The one year old became independent fast. Stools everywhere so she could climb. My four year old loved to climb on the coffee table so he could help me get in my robe. We got "summer" haircuts before mine fell out.

Let people help. Don't worry about balanced meals. Eat whatever sounds good. It's only six months and won't hurt either one of you. I told my friends and family I needed help with cleaning house, cooking meals and bathing the kids. I wanted to save my energy to play.

I was folding clothes as physical therapy sooner than expected. My four year old was my coach and helped count with the exercises. I wiped down the coffee table every day and changed hand towels every day. Rule was everyone must wash hands as soon as they come inside. Period.

Fill a couple pencil/shoeboxes with special toys or snacks to pull out either in bed or on the couch for those really bad times. Goldfish, Cheerios, little cars, those markers that color onspecial paper, stickers, seek n find books. We watched a lot of tv too.

Our family pic from that year has me bald. The now four year old will ask about it. Mommy took some strong meds. She doesn't really remember.

I'm back at that same place again. I wear a mask to school. Gotten a summer haircut but seriously thinking about some wild color for however long it will last. My now seven year old still says mommys on strong meds. My four year old climbs in bed with me and brings her barbies or books. We listen to books on tape. Not so much tv as leap pads. I have freezer meals or microwave pancakes or cereal on bad nights.

It's doable. The first round is hard because you're scared and don't know what to expect. It gets easier. You will endure whatever you have to for your child. They don't know any different and will adjust just fine. You can still be affectionate. Put a pillow between you in the beginning. The baby and I played footsie because I didn't want germs in the beginning. We still play footsie. It's our thing:)

Keep in touch.

7/22/2020 A/A combo, 11 cm liver spots! piqray, zometa, faslodex 6/11/2020 rads to liver 12/2020 3 cm liver 10/2019, Liver spots 1/ 2016, Xgeva 9/2015, Bones 4/2015, Lungs 4/2013 Dx 4/2013, 4cm, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 4/28/2013 Lymph node removal: Right; Mastectomy: Right; Prophylactic mastectomy: Left Chemotherapy 5/22/2013 AC Hormonal Therapy 10/2/2013 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Radiation Therapy 11/5/2013 Breast, Lymph nodes Surgery 9/25/2015 Prophylactic ovary removal Hormonal Therapy 1/6/2016 Femara (letrozole) Targeted Therapy 1/7/2016 Ibrance (palbociclib) Hormonal Therapy 2/3/2016 Arimidex (anastrozole) Hormonal Therapy 4/23/2017 Faslodex (fulvestrant) Chemotherapy 11/15/2017 Xeloda (capecitabine) Dx 10/2019, metastasized to liver, ER+/PR+, HER2- Radiation Therapy Liver
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Feb 18, 2016 09:44AM Moderators wrote:

Heidi, we're sorry to hear of your diagnosis! As you can already see, there's lots of great support here.

In addition to the great advice above, you may also want to check out the main Breastcancer.org site's page on Talking to Young Children.

We hope this helps!

--The Mods

To send a Private Message to the Mods: community.breastcancer.org/mem...
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Feb 25, 2016 10:44PM heidi16 wrote:

Zillsnot4me: Thank you for terrific advice. Not fretting about perfectly balanced meals and saving energy for play is a very good idea indeed. I will start to practice footsie with my baby tomorrow :) I am so sorry that you had a recurrence...but you are lucky to have family/friends to help. Lots of hugs and healing vibes your way <3

Mods: Thank you! Great article

Dx 2/17/2016, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IB, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (FISH) Surgery 3/8/2016 Lumpectomy: Right Chemotherapy 4/27/2016 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Radiation Therapy 8/2/2016 Hormonal Therapy 9/30/2016 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Jun 11, 2020 03:13PM Seilien wrote:

I didn't want to start a new topic because this encaptures the same thing I want to talk about but it has become a bit old.

Has anyone gone through having toddlers during their experience? How was it? How are your kids? Did you feel guilty for being unavailable(I do)? How is being sick, raising a young child during pandemic(rough for me)?

My 2 year old has seemed to accept that I am sick or have an "owie" or "tired". I've been diagnosed when my daughter was 6 mo old and consistently had treatment and surgeries. She is very used to staying with others to be watched. I dont know if my child has matured too fast but we did have her learn to potty fast which is great. I'm also not the kind of parent that can play for very long. I am not a "kid" person. I love babies but have struggled with the amount of pretend play, running, climbing. She also has a short attention span, swapping interests every few min. I feel guilty for not enjoying every moment with her but my daughter is a very active, happy, loud kid. Her obsession with screen time has been a struggle though.

Dx 7/30/2018, Right, Stage IV, metastasized to brain, ER+/PR-, HER2+ Radiation Therapy 6/1/2019 Whole-breast: Breast, Brain Surgery 11/22/2019 Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Chemotherapy 7/28/2020 Xeloda (capecitabine) Surgery 8/28/2020 Reconstruction (left)
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Jun 16, 2020 09:13AM - edited Jun 16, 2020 09:18AM by Each_day_2018

Mine weren't toddlers when I was diagnosed, but they were young... 4, 7, 8. Mom guilt is real and doesn't ever go away. I am not a 'kid' person either. While I fully believe that the interactions we have with our kids at any age can shape them as they grow, I will say, even my now 10 year old is completely un-phased by my illness. I think he took it the hardest when I was so sick from chemo that I couldn't even leave my bed; so the fact that he has nearly forgotten the days I couldn't be engaged with him brings me some relief from my guilt. My other two can't even remember. Now, after working from home through COVID, I have new guilt for just being away. Don't let that guilt consume you. Instead of play time, spend time watching a movie together and cuddling or reading a book or a walk around the block. Your daughter won't remember everything you did or what things you played; but she will remember you were there.

Diagnosed at age 31. Dx 6/28/2018, IDC, Left, 4cm, Stage IIIC, Grade 2, 3/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 9/5/2018 Mastectomy: Left Dx 9/6/2018, LCIS, Left, <1cm, Grade 2, 3/4 nodes, ER+, HER2- Chemotherapy 10/10/2018 AC + T (Taxol) Radiation Therapy 4/28/2019 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes, Chest wall Surgery 8/28/2019 Prophylactic ovary removal Hormonal Therapy Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Jun 16, 2020 09:42AM - edited Jun 17, 2020 11:31AM by Lexica

I second Each_day... my kids (2 and 4 when I was diagnosed) barely remember that I was sick now. Get your snuggles in and spend time with them. My kids thought the wigs were fun, so maybe 'find the fun' I guess. We actually just gave my husband a makeover with one of my old wigs the other night and the girls LOVED IT...COVID crazy over here...I also let them help (really they were just there, but i think they may have held the clippers at one point) cut my hair short when it started to fall out.

Keep in mind that it might not be too difficult for you - the chemo for me was manageable - so prepare for it to be difficult, but realize it might not be as bad as you thought. And definitely accept the help. My kids went to their grandparents for two weeks after my mastectomy - it would have been tough to have them around then. I realize not everyone has that option, but make plans ahead of time for that. You got this, mama :)

Diagnosed at 34. 2 years of Ibrance via PALLAS trial (ends 4/2020) Dx 7/2017, IDC, Left, Stage IIIC, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 12/15/2017 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left; Prophylactic mastectomy: Right Dx 12/27/2017, DCIS/IDC, Left, 6cm+, Stage IIIA, Grade 3, 5/11 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Radiation Therapy 1/16/2018 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes, Chest wall Chemotherapy AC + T (Taxol) Hormonal Therapy Aromasin (exemestane)
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Jun 16, 2020 05:37PM - edited Jun 16, 2020 05:41PM by beeline

Seilien, I completely agree with what Each_day and Lexica said, but also want to add that you have done a good thing by giving your daughter a "village." That's the way I came to think of the friends who constantly watched my kids and brought meals, etc. I think there's a real upside to our children knowing there is a community around them who loves them and will look after them, not just their parents. That said, I also felt guilty through the whole thing and have also never been a pretend-player. I am better at projects and as they get older it's easier to do those kind of things with them. You have time to build that relationship and find things you like doing together. And my kids have all but forgotten that I was so sick, even though I only finished treatment a bit over a year ago.

Lexica - just have to say I love the daddy makeover with wigs idea! How funny!

Edited to add - parenting during a pandemic has been super hard for me and all the parents I know but especially for my friends with toddler aged kids. Not being able to go to the playground or blow off steam with friends is really tough, even more so when the kids are too young to understand why.

American in NZ. Dx’d at 42. Had to stop Taxol after #6 due to neuropathy. Randomised to control group in MonarcheE trial 😩 Dx 7/17/2018, IDC, Right, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 8/2/2018 Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Right Dx 8/21/2018, DCIS/IDC/Paget's, Right, 2cm, Stage IIIC, Grade 2, 10/22 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Chemotherapy 9/18/2018 AC + T (Taxol) Hormonal Therapy 2/12/2019 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Radiation Therapy 2/25/2019 Whole-breast: Lymph nodes, Chest wall Hormonal Therapy 1/22/2020 Arimidex (anastrozole), Femara (letrozole)
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Sep 8, 2020 08:13PM siennamitori wrote:

Following this thread, I am recently diagnosed and about to start chemo. My daughter turns 2 in a few weeks and is high energy! I plan to ask for lots of help from family and friends, and also cherish this time that I'm taking off work to get in as many cuddles as possible.

Dx 8/24/2020, IDC, Left, 6cm+, Stage IIIB, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Chemotherapy 9/16/2020 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel)
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Sep 9, 2020 11:45AM - edited Sep 9, 2020 11:50AM by Seilien

I just wanted to update my situation. I have not been able to actively play with my 2 yr old but family really has come often and makes my daughter happy. Unfortunately it is a lot for my husband but maybe its just good bonding for my daughter and everyone else. She visits me in bed a lot and understands I'm sick. She has become very independent in terms of play and bathroom.

I usually feel guilty or too tired which is also guiltying. I'm trying to slowly increase my energy.

Dx 7/30/2018, Right, Stage IV, metastasized to brain, ER+/PR-, HER2+ Radiation Therapy 6/1/2019 Whole-breast: Breast, Brain Surgery 11/22/2019 Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Chemotherapy 7/28/2020 Xeloda (capecitabine) Surgery 8/28/2020 Reconstruction (left)

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