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my 8 year old is scared... my 8 year old is scared...

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Unread 11-09-2003, 07:11 AM
my 8 year old is scared...

I was diagnosed and had surgery in February, and since finishing treatment in May have been feeling fine and looking better than before! I thought my kids had held up pretty well to the stress of that time, and that we were all doing okay.

On friday morning my 8 year old woke up and I see she has pulled out a whole patch of her hair!!! I went nuts, and thought the next stop would be a psychiatric hospital for sure!!! I never saw anything so scarey. I wasn't sure what was worrying her, and thought it might be some problems she had been having with friends at school (the usually catty girl type stuff).
well, after we calmed down, later in the day her older sister (17) got her talking and it turns out she is worried about my illness, and said she only found out I had cancer last month.

I did speak to her at the time of the surgery, but probably didn't use the C word. I told her they had to open my tummy to remove some bad things (or maybe germs?) that were growing there that couldn't be fixed anyother way. She really seemed fine all these months, and then this!!

I will be talking to psychologist tomorrow, and my social worker who I have been seeing on a weekly basis and really love, said we could have a family meeting with husband and all the kids to talk about their worries.

I have know idea what to do and I am so worried!!

I have also been meeting with a number of other cancer patients, visiting them, taking them to treatments and so on, and we do sometimes talk about this at the dinner table, but I thought that was part of not hiding the disease, now I am worried I have made her more upset.

What should I do?

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Unread 11-09-2003, 09:54 AM
my 8 year old is scared...

Hi esther,

Cancer effects all our family members in different way. My 14 year ols acts like cancer never happened, My 17 year old hovers over me, the 16 year old seems disgusted at the changes cancer has made in our lives, and the 19 year old got my name tatooed on his chest, seems to think that makes me immortal!
I think you are doing the right things by having your daughter talk to a social worker and haveing a family meeting. Maybe your older daughter can try to spend extra time with her little sisters, and they can both share their feelings and suppirt each other. i would try to avoid talking about cancer at the family dinner table, for a while, ( unless your daughter brings it up) and focus on the fact that life is about so much more than cancer.
Unread 11-09-2003, 05:47 PM
my 8 year old is scared...

Hi Esther...

Everyone responds differently to the "C" word and children are no different.
I would sit down with her and have a real heart to heart talk. I would remind her that you did not give her all the details, at the time, because you did not want to upset her. But, I would keep reinforcing that you are feeling fine now and that everything is getting better. However, I would let her know that sometimes you might not feel well and that you will need her help. Children love to be big helpers.
As young as they are, children still sense tension or the fact that something is just not right happening in their family. Try and include her in family talks but bring it down to her level of understanding without overwhelming her of scaring her.

When I had my hysterectomy, the children in my class ( teach Pre-K) were told that I had a really bad stomach ache, that the doctors were making it better but that it would take a few weeks. They all accepted that, sent me lots of wonderful get well presents and cards and some even called on the phone. When I went back to work, they could not do enough for me and they were good as gold!!

Let us know how things go.
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Unread 11-09-2003, 07:01 PM
my 8 year old is scared...

Seems like your girls are smart. They know more than you are telling them. They hear about cancer at school, through the TV. They hear you talklint to others.Your 8 year old sounds like she wants to be reasssured her mama is going to be around. Did you have chemo? Perhaps she copied the treatment affects. Young children ,even teenagers copy. I talk to my 2 year old openly about cancer. It is now unfournately a part of our life. It is hils story too. So I tell him honestly and on the level he understands. I wear a teal Pin. He likes it, I just tell him it mommy's kind of cancer. He is fascinated with the scar, so I simply tell him that is where he came from. He was not born vaginaly, but by C-section. It reduces his fears. I also let him go the doctor with me and see all the doctor stuff.The hospital had a program recent where the chlidren could play with real doctor tools to reduce fears.
Unread 11-09-2003, 07:04 PM
my 8 year old is scared...

I agree that taking your 8 year old to speak to someone is a good idea. Allowing her to talk about her fears will be of great help. She is obviously under a great deal of stress and is worried about you. I have an 8 year old too. She was 6 when I was diagnosed. I did not tell her at the time, but I did share it with recently.
Unread 11-10-2003, 05:57 PM
my 8 year old is scared...

Everyone here has such great advice. While I babysit for friends a lot (covering six kids ages 7 mos. on up to 11), every mother seems to handle things differently. My very close friend told her 4, 6, 8 and 10-year-olds exactly what I was going through. The 4-year-old spent a few months asking me about my tumor and why I couldn't have babies, and now she pretty much just talks about how my hair looks better when I have a wig on. The 6- and 8-year-old boys just give me lots of hugs and ask how I'm doing. And the 10-year-old told me about Locks of Love *before* I even went in for surgery. She knew more about things like that than I did! So kids can surprise you.

But you know what? Those kids have prayed and prayed for me. I'm a big part of their nightly prayers, and that commitment has meant the world to me. The other two kids that I babysit for (7 mos. and 5) don't really know what's up. The 5-year-old knows I had an operation so the doctors could take my appendix out, but I don't think anything's been discussed except that I'm taking medicine to get well. And that's about it. That's his mom's decision. My best friend is those kids' nanny, and though she gave me my Neupogen shots every day for two months, she does what the mom wants. I think the five-year-old just thinks I have a funny haircut.

I wish I could be more help here, but I don't have kids and how each mother chooses to speak with her child is up to her. I do think an 8-year-old is pretty perceptive and can handle a lot. If they have a role to play, it helps them to feel more involved.

I wish you a lot of luck as you work to sort all this out. I'm sorry I don't have better advice to share. But I think everyone here has already shared a lot of great advice. s!
Unread 11-10-2003, 09:10 PM
my 8 year old is scared...

I have two daughters, ages 7 and 8. Before my surgery, we told them that I was having a hysterectomy, got books and showed them what parts were going to be taken out. We told them that there was a problem with one part that needed to be fixed/taken out. That freaked them out enough as it was, and we decided to not tell them the cancer part yet. They were so worried, especially my older daughter, whom is very sensitive as it is (mommys girl!) I was staged at 1b and path report was clear, so I have not had further treatment beyond my surgery and every 3 mos. check ups. I will tell them at some point in the future but have not yet. If I would have had any further treatments, I feel like I would have needed to explain more to them. It is a hard thing to decide what is best. At the time we felt they were scared enough as it was, without the cancer info. I felt like this summer that someone may have told my 8 yr. old something about it , as she started having seperation anxiety, but after talking alot and just waiting it out, it turned out to be just another phase she outgrew. Anyway, I have babbled enough.. Maybe you should take her to a counselor to discuss her feelings regarding your health. I think that is what I would do, as she knows you had cancer and that can be alot for little ones to understand.. it's hard enough for adults. I will keep you l in my prayers.

Radical hysterectomy, June 2002, cervical cancer, 1b
Unread 11-11-2003, 12:05 AM
my 8 year old is scared...

I think each parent and child/children may need to do it their own way.
For me and my kids I have been honest, bluntly honest, from the very beginning. My children are 6 and 2.
I didn't know I had cancer til after my surgery for the "benign" ovarian tumor that wasn't so benign. I have a very rare type of ovarian cancer that has a low survival rate ( if you believe that kind of thing which I don't).
I've had severe nausea and vomitting from the chemo so there was NO hiding anything anyway. I've had a picc line and now a port. The kids have to know what's going on to better understand why Mommy can or can't do regular stuff for a while.
Now I did get a little worried when the 2 year old mumbled something about needing to shave her head. Hahaha. I'll be watching HER like a hawk. And my 6 year old had a problem with hand washing for a couple of weeks. He had to wash his hands MANY times. We had told him to wash his hands a bit more to help keep germs away from me. He was worried about bringing home germs from school and getting me sick. He became obsessive about the hand washing. I've heard that is a common reaction from a lot of kids. He is better now.
I've had honest conversations with the 6 year old about death. We talk about my death, his death, his sisters' death, his fathers' death.... we talk about organ donation, types of gravestones.... we talk about the sadness of those left behind... we talk about what happens after death... we talk about how death is natural and will happen to everybody eventually....we talk of anything that he wants to talk about.
My 2 year old comes with me to check up appts and simple blood draw appts. She watches as the needles go in or the shots are given. She knows the shots hurt but only for a few seconds. She insists on holding my hand to help me feel better. So cute. When she has to have her own (immunization) shots she doesn't fight it. She knows that sometimes people just need a band aid and sometimes they need to go to the hospital. When I need to go to the hospital she says Mommy is going to her castle. She came up with that herself!!

Unread 11-11-2003, 01:33 AM
my 8 year old is scared...


After reading your post, I tried to see the situation through an eight-year-olds' eyes. If your daughter didn't know you had cancer until last month, but thought you had "germs" or something similar removed up until then, she is probably just starting to go through the initial shock process of hearing about your cancer diagnosis. Keep in mind that you've had almost a year to go through the process and adjust, but this may be hitting her for the first time. Also, she may be worried that any "germs" she picks up anywhere may lead to cancer, and of course, we all know kids get a lot of germs.

How did she ultimately learn you had cancer? Was it from someone other than you? She may have concerns that if you didn't tell her about the cancer, there may be other bad news behind the actual diagnosis that you are withholding from her as well. Or she may be thinking "this has got to be bad because they kept it from me for so long."

Just my thoughts on what a child's take on this situation might be. I think counseling to allow your daughter to voice her concerns and fears is a very good idea and will help her work throught these issues.


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