Help for teens to deal with serious cancer?


Question from hawaii: What help is there for a 14-year-old female and 17-year-old male (brother and sister) to deal with their mother's recently diagnosed Stage 3 breast cancer with 11-node involvement?
Answers - Marisa Weiss, M.D. Mom can say that the doctors have told her that she has a cancer in the breast that is a serious one. They've reassured her that they have treatment for her, that she will put up a serious fight against this problem.
Joan Hermann "I'm going to do my darnedest to get better. I'm going to work very hard to beat this thing. And I'll need your help to do that."
Marisa Weiss, M.D. This is an opportunity to tell the children that this 'serious treatment' may be strong stuff, and that there are times that Mom's going to feel wiped out, and may just hang around and not feel like doing very much, but that these side effects are temporary.
Joan Hermann Mothers certainly can say this situation is serious, but they don't need to share with their children everything that they are worried about. At this kind of a diagnosis, the mom may feel very panicked and frightened, but she needs to project a very positive "I'm going to do everything I can to beat this." That's not to say that the mother can't say. "I'm scared, I'm worried," but she doesn't need to dump that on the children, because the children need to go on with their lives, to do all the things that kids do. The mother should reassure the children. "I will tell you if things get worse. Just help me get through this thing. And I'll tell you if something changes—I promise you that."

On Wednesday, August 16, 2000, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Kids and Mom's Breast Cancer. Joan Hermann, L.S.W. and moderator Marisa Weiss, M.D. answered your questions about talking to your kids about breast cancer.

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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