Talking To Your Daughter
by Becky Zuckweiler, MS, RN
"Mom, Dad, I have breast cancer." More and more, parents are hearing these alarming words from their daughters. As the means of detection improve, the age of diagnosis keeps dropping, and young women are faced at an early age with the uncertainty of breast cancer. As a parent, there are many things we can do to help our daughter face breast cancer. You have already taken a step in the right direction by seeking out the information on this website.
She will need to talk to someone, someone who won't break down and lose control. You need to be as strong as possible for her. You are the ones who taught her to walk, to speak, to ride a bike. She needs you to tell her that it will be okay, that breast cancer is survivable - and that you are on her side. Find survivor success stories and share them with her.
Act, but act in accordance with her wishes. It is a parent's instinct to take over - take charge when a child is ill or in danger. If your daughter is an adult, this is her battle. As much as she is willing to let you do, you should do. But take your cues from her. Be willing to sit in the background, waiting for her to express or exhibit to you that she needs your assistance, or guidance, through her journey of surgery, treatment, recovery and healing. Help her with her children, her chores, whatever she asks.
A parent wants to feel that her daughter is okay, and sometimes we push her to act okay when she isn't ready. Physical healing from mastectomy, radiation or chemotherapy may take less time than you thought it would, but emotional healing will probably take much longer. Most difficult for her will probably be her fear that the cancer will come back after surgery. Support her with the information you find on the internet. Be vigilant about reading new information, new research about detecting and eradicating breast cancer.
Take care of yourself
Genetic or hereditary links to breast cancer are abundant, and you must be sure that you are healthy too. Be sure to have regular mammograms and discuss your child's illness with your doctor. Do not ignore symptoms because your daughter is ill and you don't have time to be sick. Don't add to her worries by letting your own health decline. She needs you to be strong.
Get over the guilt
Your daughter's breast cancer is not your fault. Breast cancer has been linked to thousands of different physiological and environmental factors. No one knows for sure why or how it occurs, but rest assured, there was nothing you could have done differently. This is not a punishment from our maker, and it is not in any way known to science preventable. It is disease, and it is not your fault.
Most of us feel better when Mom is around. Whether on the phone, in emails, letters or in person, a word from Mom has a calming, soothing effect. Reassure her that you believe she will survive. Share your faith. Encourage her to plan for her long-term future. Help her heal at her own pace, and believe in your own heart that she will be one of the hundreds of thousands of women who live a long, healthy life after breast cancer.