Need Some Advice - Miami,FL

Updated on May 21, 2011
M.L. asks from Miami, FL
13 answers

My mom was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer 3 years ago. The doctors found it initially in her ovaries which were removed after testing they found out it had come from her breast. A year after surgery and chemo she was rediagnosed with stomach cancer and now this year with colon. Unfortunately it doesn't look good this time around. The doctors feel that it is a waste of time to remove a piece of her colon because it will just keep on coming back so they are going to start her on some new medicines to try to keep it from spreading. The doctors though this time sround have given her 1-2 years. This is the tough part how do I talk to my kids about this. They know she has cancer we have always been honest with them and have answered any questions they may have about it. But now I fear that her time is running out and I need to talk to them about actually losing their grandmother because I don't want it to be a surprise for them to just one day she be gone with no warning. Does anyone have any advice on how to talk to them maybe a book or a therapist I have no idea what to do. My 11 & 10 year old I can handle a little better because they are older and can understand more but my 5 year old is the problem. On top of everything she is very close to her grandmother she took care of her for the first two almost three years of her life so she is very very close. I don't know how she is going to take it and I don't know where to begin with her. With my four month old it is just sad that he will not be able to enjoy his grandmother much but at least he will not feel it as much. Now I may be jumping to conclusions miracles do happen and she may be around a lot longer than we thing but I want them to be prepared so please any advice would be so appreciated. Thanks u!!!!

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answers from Chicago on

Be as honest as possible. Tell them as sad as it is, when someone you love gets cancer and nothing helps them, it's sometimes a blessing, for the loved one will no longer be in daily pain & will stop suffering. Tell them Heaven is a wonderful place where they go and see others that died and were always loved and missed. tell them they will never hurt anymore and will be with loved ones that passed that also don' hurt anymore. Assure them it's ok to be sad,to cry, but a piece of them stays in our hearts always. help them to not be afraid to say things they want to say, like, I love you& will miss you Tell them the one dying will feel better hearing those words...(and they will) . MyMom is also dying from her 2nd round of BC& mets,She was also on 3 yrs, 3x a week dialysis from an aortic surgery for 3 aneuryesms. That night she lost her kidneys. My Mom chose to go off dialysis because she was too sick to continue. We were told she'd be gone in 3- 5 days, possibly 7.It's now 22 days post dialysis & she's still with us. We have hospice care, but she was being over- medicated and we had them re-eval meds. Now she's clear headed and we have had 3 weeks of wonderful conversations. But.. It will be a blessing, because her quality of life is nill,,I've found with kids, the more honest, yet in simple direct talks is the best.God Bless you& your Family.

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answers from Ocala on

I am so sorry for what you and your family are going through.
Pray about it. The Lord will guide you.

I will be praying for you.

God bless you all.



answers from Miami on

Dear M.,
I am so sorry to hear about your mom's condition. We lost my mother-in-law to breast cancer five years ago. She was a beautiful, bright, and fun-loving woman. We miss her terribly. When she died, my son was 4 and I was pregnant with my daughter. I think that discussing the situation openly and honestly with your two older children is appropriate. However, I'm not sure that I would go into much detail with your five-year-old. Like you said, you are not sure of the outcome. A lot can happen in a year or two. I think telling your little girl that grandma has cancer and that your worried about her is enough. Provide plenty of opportunities for all of your kids to spend time with grandma. Take lots of pictures and video. There is a wonderful book called "The Fall of Freddie the Leaf" by Dr. Leo Buscaglia. It is a beautiful story of life and death. It's out of print, but you can still find it using ISBN#O-943432-89-8. Good Luck! I will be thinking of you and your family.



answers from Orlando on

M., just over three years ago, we learned on the same day (two days before Chirstmas) that both mine and my hsbnds father had cancer. My father in laws was nstage already and they gave him only 6-9 months to live. At the time, my boys were 9 and 2. My husband and I decided that we would wait until his father was very ill to tell him what was going on because my older son is a terrible worrier. In June, at my sons birthday party, i heard him inoduce a friend to his grandpa. As they walked away, he told the friend. He has cancer. He's dying. We had told him about the cancer, but not that he was dying. That night getting him ready for bed, I asked him about it. He told me he had known for a while bcause he was on;y getting worse not better. We talked about how he felt. Of course, he was upset, but he understood a lo more than we gave him credit for. He passed in August and my dad in December. by thn he was 10 and his borther was 3. He handled it suprisingly well. They depend on you to be honest with them and hy need to know her time is short and that their time with her needs to be treasured. The five year old needs to know she is sick, but I wouldn't tell her yet about the dieing. Your rigt that things could turn around. You never know what will be th end result.



answers from Tampa on

M., please call the Hospice, even if your mom is not in Hospice, they have a wonderful program for children. I was referred with my son when we lost alot of relatives in a short period of time.



answers from Tampa on

For starters I am sorry about your Mom. I know how you feel. I went through the cancer thing with my Grandmother and some of my Uncles and my brother. It's a tough time but you can make the best of it. My Grandmother and I spent many days just talking about old times. She told me stories of her childhood and talked of all the things she wished she had gotten to do in her life. Two years ago in Feb. I went to Michigan and spent 18 days with my brother who had lung cancer. We talked about everything, we laughed and we cried. Then after I came home we talked on the phone every day right up until he went to the hospital at the very end. He was a very brave man and put up a good fight. So I guess what I am saying is stop stressing and enjoy your Mom while she is still here with you and your children. If your Mom is up to it it would be better if she talked with the kids about her passing away some day. The five year old will handle it better than the older two. Usually the younger they are the easier they deal with it. If your Mom is up to it a little going away party with just her and your kids would be nice. My girlfriend's Mom did this when she found out she only had a year to live. It was an awesome time for them. Plenty of pictures were takin, they had a special lunch with a special dessert. And her Mom ever gave the kids each a special keepsake to remember her by. I think it's a blessing that your Mom has advance notice so she can make her final days here special with her family. I know this has to be killing you to deal with this but make the best of it. Take your Mom to the beach just the two of you and talk everything over you have ever wanted to talk to her about and never have. What would be really nice is if your Mom would help you make a memory book for your children. Enjoy the time you have with her and quit stressing about how your children will handle it. The way you handle it is how it will impact them the most.



answers from New York on

I am so sorry to hear about your family. When I was dealing with this same situation what helped me talk and help my children was going to Hospice. They have so much information on how to deal with lillnesses and death not just for adults but alot of info for children. They do alot of counseling for children and adults along with alot of other services. It really helped me, my 2 children (age 5 and age 9). They do have web sites to get you started because they have differant names for what ever area you are in. I hope this helps you and also schools will help with counseling as well. If you need more advice or would like to chat just respond back. Again I am so sorry that you are having to go through this. It was very hard one and my family when I was going through this with my father ( he did pass away 5 years ago after battling with cancer for over 10 years). If you need help finding hospice in your area just let's know. I understand just how hard this is not just on you but the children. My prayers are with you all.



answers from Jacksonville on

Dear M., You can never be prepared for such as this. Just continue to tell the kids the truth about things but don't anticipate the future. God gives and He takes away. He will take care of them. I just went through this with my husband passing and the grand children. The 6 year old asked me the other day if Grand Daddy is still dead. The older ones, as you say, seem to understand. God never puts more on us than we can handle. It will be ok. Just pray about it.



answers from Miami on

Well, I would take it week to week. If you say she has a couple of years to live then why would you say anything now. Children live in the here and now. There is no prep for something that will happen two yrs from now. What you should do is talk about how things die. Get books from the library and get some that have animals dying and people dying too. Dying is the circle of life. CHildren are extremely resiliant. MY two lost their Dad at 7 and 2.5 yrs old. They always understood death as much as thier developmental age could allow them. When the time comes closer you will know. Also, after it happens there are some great free bereavement groups for children to attend to get their feelings out. Take advantage of it. Good luck in this sad journey. Also get yourself a HALO breast test. It is a pap test of the breast to detect cancer cells 7 yrs earlier than a mammogram.



answers from Lakeland on

What about the Cancer treatments centers of America (?) I think that's the name. On the commercial - the "patient" says that her Dr. gave her a time frame - she went to the Cancer treatment center - and the first thing the Dr. told her was that she didn't have an expiration date.

I'm sorry that she is going through this, it's tough I know. Good luck & God Bless!



answers from Pittsburgh on

I'm sorry about your mom. I am also hoping for a miracle for her! You never know and hope is a wonderful thing. I've been hearing encouraging stories lately about cancer and the treatment of various cancers wih much success.
I had a similar situation with my then 2.5 yo (much younger than your daughter) but his Pap cared for him every day of his life. I think you need to keep it simple and start a discussion about cancer. Cancer is a disease. The docs are trying to help Grandma with medicine.
If she declines, you can add that "sometimes this disease is so bad that medicine cannot help it." You don't want a kid to fear doctors and hospitals. Also start talking about how the lives of all living things have a beginning of their life, a middle and an end of their life. There are some good books out there for kids about grief. I would answer any and all questions very simply and honestly.
It was def hard for me b/c my son would catch me off guard and the questions were sometimes sad and upsetting. It's OK of your kids see you cry. Try to avoid euphemisms for death. My son saw his Pap getting weaker and thinner, (even at his young age of 2.5!) O. day he told me that "pap got smaller and smaller until he died" That was his observation. Kids are amazingly observant and perceptive. If you believe in life after death, you can incorporate your religious views as well. My son seemed to take comfort in the fact that we know we will see Pap again when our own lives are at the end and we go to live with the Lord. God Bless. I wish you and your family and your mom all the best.



answers from Boca Raton on

I'm so sorry to hear about your mom. I obviously know nothing about your financial situation or where you live but I strongly suggest you check out Hippocrates in West Palm Beach
They have helped cure MANY diseases including stage 4 cancers.
If not, cherish each moment you have and make sure you say everything you need to, to you mom.
Tell your kids the truth. I find that when we treat our children with respect and honesty they will get it. Death is an important yet sad stage of life that we must all learn to accept and try to understand. If you give your kids the chance to mourn and deal in their way they will come out of it better than if you hide it and they resent you.



answers from Tampa on

First let me start by saying that I am so so sorry to hear about your mother. Any cancer is horrible and I know how trying and difficult this time is for your family. I believe, and always practice, honesty with my children. I believe it makes them feel more secure to know the truth. Not a brutal truth but the truth sort of melted down to their level. If it was me, I would tell her that grandma has cancer (you may have to explain what cancer is) and their is a chance that she may have to go to heaven (I am not sure of your beliefs or religious affiliation so I apologize if this does not help you) and that sometimes when people get really sick God thinks it's better to have them go home to him than suffer. I would also not be afraid to let her see you cry it makes you human and lets her know it's okay not to keep her feelings to herself. If she asks why you are crying tell her that you are afraid and that you are worried about what it's going to be like if she does go to heaven. That way she will open up to you as well. Also, there are wonderful books out there that will help children deal with the death of a loved one. I also heard once a lady tell her children, when she was diagnosed with a terminal illness, that everytime the wind blew on their faces that would be her kiss from heaven. It may help to have your mother with you when you speak to her so that she could help you clarify any questions that your daughter may have. Also, children mourn and go through things differently than adults so if she doesn't cry or throw a fit right away that's okay, she will have her moments. Just be patient and if you see any signs of say not eating or starting to wet the bed again I would seek professional help for her to get through this time, your pediatrician should be able to direct you where to go. Many counties have grief councelors available for this sort of situation. I hope this helped and again I am so sorry to hear about your mother.

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