Processing Cancer as a Family

It was 10 years ago that I heard those four words that changed my life… “You have cervical cancer.” Little did I know that my children’s lives would forever be affected. As a single mom, I’ve been the only caregiver my children have. So when I was told I had cancer, I wondered, “Now what?” This wasn’t just a cold, this was cancer. Who would care for them?

I choose to remain open with my children. But when I mention to them that I have a routine appointment coming up, they ask a lot of questions:

“Why you have to go to the doctor again?”

“Is it back?”

“I don’t understand, why do you have to go back?”

I often answer vaguely, not putting too much thought into it. But then my youngest, who is more vocal than my oldest, told me she couldn’t sleep thinking about me going to the doctor. This is when I realized just how much my cancer diagnosis affected them. Even to this day my children are terrified when I mention that I have a doctor’s appointment, or any health-related appointment for that matter.

People often ask survivors how cancer has affected our lives, but very rarely consider how cancer has affected our loved ones. Usually, when we finish treatments and move forward with life, a lot of people think that’s it, you’re all better. Many survivors never speak about it again; it becomes almost taboo among friends and family. But it’s important to realize that as much as it affects us as patients, our families have fears and anxieties as well. They need support and compassion too.

Read more about Edna’s Cervivor story here.

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