Saturday, January 15, 2011

Exhibiting signs of stress

Last time I had cancer we worked really hard to help minimize the physical and psychological stress on our children. In getting help for that I looked for support services for children whose parent has cancer. By looking I mean I asked the nurses, doctors, cancer center, looked on the internet, and asked anyone who might know. I could not find any. We just read books, prayed, and did the best we could. I think it helped that my mom was a preschool teacher and my kids were preschool age. She came up several times to help.

They still had stress. They both cried more than normal. Here are a few examples of how they responded. I remember one time the Primary President calling me because they had changed L's teacher or maybe just the kids in her class. L told the Primary President, "I just can't take it anymore." The Primary President talked to me and then changed back whatever it was that she had changed. C would constantly talk about cancer with me, he is a talker now too. C would have these explosive violent outbursts that scared him and those around him. They actually increased after treatment was over. It was as if it was finally safe for him to process or something. He was only 3 and L was 4 then 5. It tore me up inside, because I wanted to help them, but it was my problem causing these things. We just talked and tried to get through it. They seemed to come through alright. I constantly reminded myself the Lord would not leave them comfortless.

Then I went into remission. I decided to study how kids respond when one of their caregivers has cancer. I went back to school, and was taking classes. I thought I probably could not run a support group, it would be too difficult emotionally, but I could help arrange the services and study the effects. In addition, I have known other families who might have wanted that kind of support. Then we had Baby and I was taking a break from schooling to focus on our little miracle.

When I found out I had cancer again, I called around and around for specific support services for my kids. I asked my doctor to call and the chemo nurses to do research. The response was the same as last time. I told my husband to call all the same places, and maybe I would every few weeks to artificially increase the apparent need. Luckily chemo intervened made me forget my not quite honest plan and made it too hard as well.

The funny sad thing in our house is we all have so much stress and are all trying to help each other. L and C try to help my husband and I. We try to help them and each other. They help each other, make lunches for each other and so on. The only person who does not try to help is Baby, but just her being here is an enormous help. She is a smiling cuddly cute ball of love.

I do not think that support services would get rid of all their stress. They are going through an extremely difficult time and they would not be human if they did not experience some stress now. We have so much support from family and friends and I know that certainly helps relieve much of the burden.

Luckily for me, maybe, is I can look at their grade history online and see which days were particularly hard for them. They have days they both do poorly on assignments. It was thrown off a bit because I had chemo during winter break. Looking at their grade history from the first chemo affected how we supported them this chemo. Grades, of course, are not the only indicator to my husband and I of their stress.

Anyways they are exhibiting signs of stress again. I am sure we will get through it. We are doing our best and relying on the Lord for the rest.


  1. Contrary to what your husband says, we do read your blog. We pray for you every day, but will be sure to specifically name Lucy and Cole in our prayers as they struggle with stress. You're family is amazing! We love you.

  2. Sorry, I named your children. Promise to repent!

  3. It is stressful when your mom has is like your worst fear came true and there's nothing you can do about it. Everything else seems harder, and you feel separated from all your friends because the stuff they are upset about seems so trivial. It seems like no one can possibly understand how you feel...except your sibling, so it is great they have each other, and the Lord is a great one to rely on. He is the only one who can truly bring peace. Thank you for reminding me to pray for them, too.

  4. Maybe we can Skype tomorrow so your kids can be chat with mine. They may not know the same feeling about a parent having cancer, but they did have stress when John went overseas. Maybe I can do some research with the military for help. I've asked my resource and will look through what I have at home or bookmarked on the other computer.

  5. Here's one link that might help.

  6. Sister Goodman - I let my husband know that not only did you read it, but you commented.

    Marilyn - when I worry too much about their stress I think of some sisters who went through worse and turned out fabulous.

    Holly - We do need to set up Skyping. Our Sunday routine is not yet settled.

  7. Jennie,

    Thank you for posting this. I now understand more how cancer affects your whole family. I once participated in a support group like you described when I was a chaperone to a kid with cancer. I went with him as part of a group to Legoland in Southern CA. Unfortunately, you are not in SoCal, but I could try to track down the group if you want.