A few people have asked how my health and my family's health, in general, is doing. I'm happy to share that things have gotten a lot better since I gave birth to Bam and we both got on the road to recovery. It's amazing how much faster my body seems to repair itself when it's not incubating another human! And it's incredible how resilient baby's little bodies can be.
I've had to drag the kids to a number of my lung screenings, as doctors have been trying to understand why I wind up with bronchitis or pneumonia every time I get sick. In the process of ruling stuff out with the pulmonologists, we've made some cool waiting room friends!
It was inevitable – I know it was inevitable – but I'll admit my stomach sank a bit the moment my 4-year-old loudly asked, “Mama, why does that man have tubes and carry a rocket around?”
It wasn't a rocket.
It was an oxygen tank.
And those tubes were so he could breathe.
Kids are so impressionable, aren't they? I'm very aware and cautious of the fact that the way I frame things for them at this age can impact their life-long viewpoints. When it comes to illness, I want them to be realistic but action-focused, avoiding a victim mentality. When it comes to lung health and cancer in particular, I don't want to perpetuate the stigmas that I've seen directed at others.
Here's how I approached the subject with them.
Explain the situation in simple terms. Younger children may not even understand the intricacies of various body parts. Using a stuffed animal to illustrate the problem helps bring it down to their level in a way they can comprehend.
Be honest and factual. Older children, in particular, are very perceptive. They may have picked up on some details that are particularly scary for them. Did you know that only 16% of patients diagnosed with lung cancer are still alive after five years, compared with over 90% of breast and prostate cancer patients? These facts, coupled with fears about the unknown, may make older kids uncomfortable. Demonstrating a commitment to the truth will help them have confidence in what you say, and it will give them hope when you share news about treatment possibilities and advancements. Our sponsor's LVNG With site is full of research-based information and resources that can help clear up any misperceptions your child may have.
Let them ask questions. There's no way you can address every possible scenario that pops up in their head. Ask them if they have questions, and communicate to them that you are always available for discussion.
Do something positive. The most difficult thing about having friends or family who are sick, I think, is a feeling of powerlessness. Help children with this by letting them gather gifts, make crafts or cook something that will make the lung cancer patient more comfortable.
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Maintain routine. Continue reading bedtime stories, taking classes and seeing friends. In times of uncertainty, simple routines can be a huge anchor for children. If you're friends with someone who has lung cancer, you also shouldn't necessarily change your usual pace of visits. Ask them when you can do to keep your relationship going while serving their needs and giving them the time and space they may need.
Have you talked to your kids about cancer or health issues that they may not understand?
I have received information and materials from AstraZeneca. The opinions stated are my own. This is a sponsored post.