Worried about kids' reactions toward treatment?

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Question from Mom Of Two: Hello everyone. I just had a mastectomy for stage IIIB and am about to start chemo. I'm really a bit nervous. I'm also worried about my two kids. My son is 14 and really not saying much about any of it. Sometimes he even has an attitude, which I find shocking considering what's going on. My daughter is 12 and she's more open, but I feel like she talks about my situation to family friends more than she talks to me.
Answers - Paula K. Rauch, M.D. It's important to check in and try to understand what's going on with each of your two different children. You may want to think about the time of the day or days of the week when each of them is most likely to have a good conversation with you. For some children that might be bedtime; for others, a drive in the car, or when the parent is cooking or doing dishes. Let both of your children know that you don't want them to worry alone and you're interested in what they're thinking if they want to share it with you. It's not uncommon for adolescent boys to be less comfortable talking about most anything. When it's something emotional they may be even more uncomfortable, and for many boys talking about their mother's breasts is especially uncomfortable for them. Sometimes other forms of communication—an email, note, responsive journal—can open the lines of communication. Be kind to yourself, too. No matter how hard we try, some children may really only listen and not talk very much. Even if your child isn't talking, it's important that he and she know that if they wanted to talk, you'd be interested in hearing what they're feeling.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Talking With Kids about Breast Cancer featured Paula Rauch, M.D. and Tamara Shulman, Ph.D., F.A.A.C.P. answering your questions about specific ways to support your kids while you undergo treatment, and different communication strategies for helping your kids to feel secure during a time of uncertainty.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in May 2006.

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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