- Question from Deb: I have a 13-year-old son who reacts poorly (school work, etc.) every time I have a bad spell. How do I deal with this when I'm in the hospital or in bed?
- Answers - Lillie Shockney, R.N., B.S., M.A.S. Dealing with kids, particularly children who have just become teenagers, is a challenge even without a diagnosis of breast cancer. What may be happening is that your teenager needs someone to talk to who isn't necessarily a parent, but perhaps a friend or another trusted adult that he can confide in and express what is making him feel upset. I think it is very difficult for young people to see a mother or father ill. It's scary. They are worried that you may not be around. They are also worried that they may, in some way, have caused this to happen. So giving him an outlet to vent is probably the best thing that you can do for him and for you at this time.
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. Sometimes it's very easy for the people around you to mistake fatigue or the side effects of treatment for cancer recurrence or after-cancer growth. That is, you might be wiped out lying in bed after chemotherapy. If you don't tell your son that that is how you are feeling because of the treatment, he might look at you and think that you look so terrible that the cancer might be coming back. It is important to distinguish the treatment and the challenges of pushing yourself through this, from the cancer itself.
- Lillie Shockney, R.N., B.S., M.A.S. Often times we ask teens to suddenly become adults for a period of time because we want them to assume additional responsibilities around the house, whether that is watching other younger children, doing laundry, etc. This can make them angry, intruding on their time as a teen. This should be negotiated and appreciated if they are asked to step in and function in an adult world, keeping in mind that teenagers are teenagers.
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. At the same time that you might expect your kid to rise up and be the adult in a situation, they may feel the tendency to regress and act more childish because they are struggling to deal with the situation. As Lillie said, you have to give each other room to have these reactions and responses. Talking about them and helping everyone through the process of these complicated issues that can happen at the worst times can make a big difference.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Tackling Fear featured Lillie Shockney, R.N., B.S., M.A.S., Marisa Weiss, M.D. and moderator Gwen Darien, Editor-in-Chief, MAMM Magazine, answering your questions about how to manage breast cancer fears.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in June 2001.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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