Chemotherapy is difficult for anyone, but it can be especially hard on parents. How do you love and support your children when you are at your weakest? There are no easy answers, but we do want to offer some simple tips that will hopefully help you navigate doing through chemo while raising your family.
1. Open Communication
According to The Washington Post, honesty is the best policy, as long as your children are old enough to understand the situation. Share as much as you’re comfortable with and let your kids know you will answer their questions as openly as you can. With younger children, it’s important not to minimize the disease by referring to it as an “owie” or a “booboo,” as kids may get confused and worry about the same thing happening to them. Build a trusting relationship with your children by telling them what’s happening and explaining the treatments to them. Most important of all, express your love and gratitude to your children, as this time can be difficult for them, too.
2. Get Help When You Need It
Oncolink recommends saying “yes” when people offer to help. Take as much pressure off yourself as possible by accepting people’s offers of assistance, and let them know what you need help with the most, such as cooking meals or getting a ride to appointments. Even folks who haven’t directly offered to help are likely happy to do so—many people are nervous when a loved one receives a cancer diagnosis and don’t know how to respond. By giving them a task you are kindly giving them a way to show they care while also taking something off your own plate.
3. Housekeeping Is Important
A clean home reduces stress, and it also helps prevent germs, which is vital when your immune system is weakened and you need to avoid getting sick. If you don’t feel like cleaning, rely on your family, and don’t be afraid to ask a close friend or relative. You could even hire a cleaning service—whatever creates a calming, healing space for you to live in is worth it!
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4. Commit the Whole Family to a Healthy Diet
The American Cancer Society says that nutrition is key during cancer treatment, as eating right helps the patient feel better. Eating healthy is something the whole family can do together, so stick together by having every member of the family commit to a healthy diet. As tough as chemotherapy is, it gets easier for parents when they’re honest with their children and when they face the disease as a family.