One thing is for certain, from the moment you get told you have cancer, everyone around you now has cancer in their lives. Like you, they’ll experience that same fear, shock, disbelief and helplessness – with the exception that they’ll not only have to look after themselves, but also look after you to some extent.
In every way, cancer and kids don’t mix – gruelling treatment regimes, constant hospital appointments, toxic chemical cocktails and low energy don’t make for the most patient, fun-loving and understanding Mum. When looking after yourself requires so much help at this time, looking after others can seem inconceivable.
But cancer or no cancer, nothing on earth like a mother’s love for your sticky fingered toddler, smiling and enthusiastic 5 year old or brave teen will motivate you to get up, get on with it and get through – if not for yourself right now then you’ll do it for them.
No matter how old your kids are, under no circumstances think that they’re too young to know that something’s up. Explaining your sudden frequent disappearance (not to mention that of your boobs or hair) and everyone’s tendency to cry often may be frightening and shake their world but it won’t be half as bad as if you try to pretend nothing’s happening when they know full well something’s up. What you say and how you say it will be your own personal journey and there’s some great resources to help you work through this.
Looking after littlies may be beyond you right now so ask for help from Grandparents, friends and your partner if you need it until you get through your treatment. If your kids are at daycare or pre-school then it’s a good idea to keep them informed of what’s going on at home.
If you’re eligible, help with childcare costs or OSCAR subsidies may be available from Work & Income (WINZ) for anything up to 50 hours childcare subsidy. See www.winz.govt.nz for details.