“When one person has cancer, the whole family has cancer,” a friend put into words the very thing I felt when I showed my chest x-ray to my children and explained that I would lose my hair because of the enormous white blob in the middle of it. The whole family has cancer. That’s never truer than when you’re not done raising your kids. Later, I Googled “parenting with cancer,” but I didn’t find what I was looking for. Instead, I found a lot of posts and pages by parents dealing with children who had cancer, but not much support for parents with cancer who are hoping and praying to be around long enough to see their kids grow up. I knew then that if I made it into remission, I would change that. ParentingWithCancer.com is the web site I was looking for that night. A work in progress, it will provide no nonsense advice from psychological experts on the things moms and dads think about in the middle of the night: How do I explain cancer to my children? How will I keep their lives as normal as possible…Can I
even do that? Where can I turn to for help with the kids, the house, the cancer treatments? Why am I so damn angry/sad/depressed/exhausted/worried and what can I do about it now? I also plan to include stories from survivors – mine and those of so many other moms and dads who have heard the words “You have cancer” and wondered immediately, “How will I tell the kids?” There will be support for spouses, family members, friends and neighbors who want to know how to help the mom or dad with cancer, as well as for the children whose worlds have been turned upside down because of it. ParentingWithCancer.com is a cancer Sherpa in its own right, a guide for parents who need to figure out how to raise children when facing cancer and everything that goes with it. It’s what I was looking for when I had cancer, and what I hope will help parents like my friend, newly diagnosed and wondering how to tell her child “Mommy has cancer.” ■
Jen Singer blogged about parenting with cancer for GoodHousekeeping.com and her own site, MommaSaid.net. She is writing a memoir called, “If Cancer is a Gift, Where Can I Return it?” Now 3 ½ years in remission, she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their kids, who are now 14 and 12. She is launching ParentingWithCancer.com this month.