When a Parent Has Cancer


For the past few days, I’ve felt a little under the weather. It’s funny (not in a “Ha Ha” kind of way) how sensitive I still am…how just feeling puny can take me back to my FBC (f-bomb breast cancer for new readers) days.

When I was first diagnosed with FBC, my first thought wasn’t about me. Rather (as is the case with most parents), I wondered how on earth I could be a good mom to my daughter who, at the time was 4 3/4.

One of the first things that I did was create an “energy bank.” I spent most days in the horizontal position resting (to the best of my ability) in an effort to accumulate even the teeniest bit of energy that I could “spend” on our daughter when she came home from school.

On days that I was in the bottomless pit of chemo despair (there were a few too many of those!), we snuggled in my bed and watched Silver Lined movies, everything from Disney Princesses to The Sound of Music to Annie. Some other things that we liked to do when I felt particularly rotten:

  • Reminisce (as much as a preschooler can!) over old photo albums
  • Color. A lot.
  • Play game upon game of “Go Fish” and “Chutes and Ladders”
  • Watch YouTube videos. With the attention span of a gnat, I especially appreciated how short they are! Have you seen The Laughing Baby“? Oh dear heavens. You may need some Depends to watch it because after having seen it oh I don’t know 100+ times, I still laugh so hard!

On the days that I blessedly had more energy, we liked to take short walks either around our yard or (on a really great day!) at the beach. Picking flowers was always a highlight of those sweet little outings as well.

One of the most important things that I learned about parenting (in general) courtesy of FBC is that doing more with children isn’t necessarily better. Cozy, quiet, focused alone time means as much (if not more!) to a child than anything else.

As sick as I was (and there were days when I didn’t think it was possible to be any sicker!),   we managed to get through it. Today at 6 3/4, she is a healthy, happy and well-adjusted child which is the greatest Silver Lining I ever could have hoped for!

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  1. says

    What a lovely idea E. B. had for a tea-time in the hospital with her Mother.

    Next time I have a loved one in the hospital or in rehab I am definitely going to do this.

    Thanks for sharing this delightful idea, E. B.

  2. E.B. says

    During one of my Mom's hospital stays, we had our very own tea ( it was really yummo hot chocolate with marsh-a-mallows, she could never say marshmallows!) party. Armed with two big thermos (thermoses?), along with a pretty pot, cups, flowers, pretty napkins, cookies, the whole nine yards, I set it up in her room and had the best time. Nurses came in for some hot chocolate and cookies, it was a nice break from the daily routine for them. I got the idea from Victoria magazine (love, love, love!) and it was one of the best days. It took just a few minutes to plan and put together, but it made her feel so good. Sometimes the simplest gestures make for the very best memories.

    • says

      What a beautiful story, E.B. Thanks so very much for sharing. I agree that it's the little experiences and gestures that create the best memories. Thanks, again!