Our children were ages 1, 3 and 5 when I was originally diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2019. We have been open with them from the beginning that “Mommy has cancer.” Yet their level of comprehension continues to grow as they age.
We aim to create an environment in our home where the children know they can ask questions. While simplified language is used, we want our children to be confident that their parents will always tell them the truth. We give them updates on my health just like we do for our friends.
They hear people talk around them. It is important that they have a level of understanding of what is happening. It is not a secret.
At the moment, they understand my cancer as a type of bad germ in Mommy’s body. We tell them these “bad cells” are fighting in Mommy’s body and she has to take medicine to fight back. Sometimes though the medicine hurts her “good cells” too. That can make Mommy feel sick. If we don’t fight the cancer cells they would take over Mommy’s body and kill her. If things get really bad and it looks like the bad cells are going to win, then Daddy will tell you. But until Daddy tells you, you don’t need to worry.
They are all attune to how Mommy feels. They look for little ways to help me. Our son starts most mornings by asking if he can do anything for me. So even when other people are in our home, I try to ask my children to help me first when they are able. It seems to mean a lot to them when they are taking care of me.
The older two have some memory of life before cancer and wish we could go back to life then. They all speak of wanting Mommy’s cancer to go away. And we pray together as a family for just that every night.
Cancer affects our family. It has changed the way we function. But we try and move forward each day with the same priorities we had before. As much as possible we aim for a sort of “normal” structured routine.
It is our prayer that God will use my cancer to bring all three children to a point of repentance and belief in Jesus. He allowed their mommy to have cancer so it is part of His sovereign plan for their lives as well.
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