Coping With Cancer as a Family
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I'd like to share a story about a small way my family coped with my mom's breast cancer.
When my mom found out she had breast cancer, it came as a huge shock. She was happy and healthy, and went to her usual annual mammogram feeling like there was nothing to worry about. But before the results came back, she inadvertently felt a lump while changing and knew something wasn't right. She spent the weekend dreading the Monday phone call from the doctor. Fast forward to right before her chemotherapy. My mom was scared about starting the treatment and the possible side effects she'd be experiencing shortly, not the least of which was losing all her hair.
Hair loss during chemotherapy is often as traumatizing for women as losing a breast. After all, both symbolize our femininity and power as women in society, and losing that identity when it's not your choice can be devastating. Many women take control by cutting their hair short or shaving it completely before clumps start falling out. Having a hair-cutting party with your kids not only can help take your mind off the treatment, but it also can help them understand how the household and you will be changing while you go through the process.
My mom, my sister, and I planned such a night right before she was set to start her treatment. Even though my sister and I were both adults living in other cities, having this night to come together and make light of a serious situation was vital to keeping us sane as a family. We broke out the wine, the scissors, and the electric razor and went to town on my mom's hair, transforming her from typical 50-something to mohawk-sporting rocker to Sinead O'Connor throughout the night.
Fast forward again to 4 years later, and my mom is once again healthy and happy, but we always have the pictures of her mohawk and memories of that night. No matter what the age, it is hard to cope with the illness of a parent. Some people may think that shielding their young children from the harsh realities of cancer or other diseases is the best solution, but I think that finding a way for them to help out is good for everyone. If your family has had to go through a similar situation, how did you include your children in your fight against a serious illness?