Parenting Through Cancer, Part One
A conversation with the Angel Foundation and an adult who's been in my kids' shoes.
People say thing like, ‘kids are resilient,’ ‘they’ll bounce back,’ and so many platitudes.
The truth is, I’ve had a hard time getting over some of the stuff I’ve seen with my wife’s cancer, so how can I expect our kids to just take it and get up off the mat?
I didn’t know, so decided to reach out.
I turned to Emily Rezac, Program Manager of the ‘Facing Cancer Together’ program at the Angel Foundation, for answers. This program offers kid-friendly activities and Camp Angel, a summer camp, to help kids who are dealing with a parent with cancer. Events are designed to teach healthy communication and coping skills for kids.
I contacted Emily to learn more about the program.
Our programs get kids together to discuss cancer. We connect kids who are going through similar situations, in a place where kids can be kids and have fun at summer camp.
Hmmm, I thought. Sounds like a Jack's event. Emily told me that she wished she would have had something like these programs when she was young.
My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 7, and I was 14 when she was diagnosed with melanoma. I was anxious about her treatments. I knew something was going on, but I wasn't old enough to really understand it. I didn't have other people my age to relate to and connect with.
She was amazed that her parents had raised her and her sisters through such adversity. I thought of my own experience parenting through caregiving and could only hope that when my kids are older they hold us in such esteem. But maybe her parents had the doubts I have now, I thought. I mentioned that and asked her how her parents had done it.
My parents were great at communicating what was going on with my mom's treatments. They told us why she lost her hair. They talked to us about our feelings. It was just me and my 3 sisters. We didn't know any other kids who had gone through what we were going through. I wish we would have. That’s where our programs come in – they connect these kids with other kids who help them relate to cancer.
She beamed through the phone. She had that connection to these kids that The Angel Foundation served, kids just like she and her sisters were so many years ago.
Our programs help kids who feel alone, kids who feel isolated, kids who feel like they are the only ones going through what they’re going through. The programs are fun for kids and give them a social outlet, but they also have that twist - they educate about cancer and what they are going through. We bring these kids together and they can see that they are not alone. They connect.
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