Several weeks ago I shared a few, mostly medical, tips that were helpful to me. You can read that blog post here. In this post, I’ll get more specific about how you can find the support to keep you mentally and physically healthy throughout this trying time.
I mentioned accepting help from friends and family in my last post but there are many other resources out there.
- Speak with a social worker and surf the web
Social workers can fill you in on support groups and the many nonprofits and programs set up to provide assistance. For instance, there are summer camps for kids affected by a parent’s cancer diagnosis (Camp Kesem); and numerous other services like babysitting, rides to treatment, and house cleaning, to name just a few.
- Find a special activity to share with your children
You’ll be avoiding the traditional germ-ridden kid areas and you’ll be feeling more tired than usual, so find a new activity to share. Based on your child’s age, you could learn to bake or knit together, try a fun monthly subscription like Kiwi Crate or Little Passports, or take up a digital hobby that you can enjoy from the comfort of your bedroom.
- Seek out people going through the same thing
I read much about how helpful it is to make “cancer friends” but the concept of forming a new cancer friend group seemed bizarre and unnatural to me. I can now say that meeting and becoming friends with other parents going through treatment is the single best thing I did! The support of my cancer friends has been invaluable. No one else can instantly understand what you’re going through and offer the encouragement and input they can.
- Exercise and meditate
Your doctors will stress the importance of exercise to you over and over again—it will keep you fit and healthy, they’ll say. All of this is true but I found that exercise and meditation also serve the equally important purpose of providing mental clarity and stress reduction. You may not always achieve an intense cardio workout but you can at least go for walks or spend time focusing on your breathing, which will make you more resilient when faced with the daily stresses of parenting.
Remember that your children don’t care if you lose your hair and are not looking your best; they love and need you regardless. As long as you try to have help and support available when you need a break, you can enjoy some fun times with your children. Raising kids while battling cancer is difficult but your children are also powerful and beautiful motivators.
Stay tuned for more posts by Sabina on breastfeeding, fertility, and other issues.