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Advice?

LC814's picture
LC814
Posts: 18
Joined: Aug 2012

I really need advice, as I'm at a loss for words.....

I'm a Girl Scout Troop Leader of 3 Troops. These Girls are like my own Daughters, their smiles and giggles not only make my day brighter but give me that extra push on a bad day, or that little ray of sunlight to bring me hope during my journey. My Two Co Leaders do most of the work these days because Rads and the Cytoxan have taken most of my energy from me, and my on going issue with Migraines doesnt leave me much strength to do what needs to be done for the troops.

My Scouts have begun to ask questions about why I seem different.  Why am always l tired, and the most common question lately is why am I all of a sudden wearing hats, scarfs and bandanas when I never did before. 

None of my scouts or their Parents have any idea that I'm fighting BC. My Co- leaders are not on the same side of whether or not to tell the parents or the scouts. Even though I was able to get a wonderful staff member from American Cancer Society, to come assist me with explaining to the parents first then the scouts that I have BC.

one Leader is fully against it, and feels its wrong for me to tell the girls and their parents. that I should just brush their questions off and leave their questions unanswered....

the other leader, feels that the Parents should know, that they may not know all the facts about BC, and may give them the knowledge to go get a mammo. Also, that the scouts should know  its alright to ask questions and that they can come to us  to answer their questions and fears, that we are there for them. That we have no secrets, while keeping everything on their level

So, my pink sisters, would you please help me out here? I'm stuck in the middle and not sure if I should or should not tell my scout parents and scouts.

Thanks!

 

camul's picture
camul
Posts: 2164
Joined: Dec 2010

I would probably talk to the parents before talking to the kids. If the kids ask question you can be honest with them and tell them that meds you are on causes your hair to fall out. Lying to them if they ask questions does not work, especially when they are 10+. But I sure wouldn't give them more info than they can digest. They mostly at that age just need to know you will be ok but you cant lie to them either.

Alexis F's picture
Alexis F
Posts: 3604
Joined: May 2009

I think you should tell the parents and let them know that if the children ask questions, that you plan on answering them.  I always believe in telling the truth.  Children are naturally curious and I think if they are asking you questions, you should tell them in an age appropriate way what you are dealing with. 

Good luck, Lex

CypressCynthia's picture
CypressCynthia
Posts: 4017
Joined: Oct 2009

My personal opinion is that you should tell them.  My daughter's first grade teacher told her class and they made the cutest get well cards ever.  I think kids want to be involved.  At one of my ACS walks, I received a book mark that a little girl had made that features a smiling little girl flying a kite and it says, "Keep fighting!"  That bookmark lives on my fridge and inspires me daily.  Maybe you can get them to make something for you and other women at your cancer center?

But please do what is right for you.  I would tell the leader who wants to keep it hush-hush that the kids' imaginations are often worse than being honest.  Ultimately, this is your call.

I don't think you have to give them a lot of information if you decide to share: just that you have an illness caused cancer and the medications that fight it make you lose your hair and feel more tired.  You can reassure them that the side effects are temporary.

LC814's picture
LC814
Posts: 18
Joined: Aug 2012

Thank you, I appreciate the advice and  support. I planned on keeping it very basic and simple for them. I dont want them worring or getting nightmares over it. I just want to easy their curiosity and answer their questions as honest and simple as possible.

The co leader who doesnt want me to say anything feels that the kids are way too young to understand or comprehend any of this, regardless of how simple I make it for them.

I plan on speaking with the parents first and answering any questions they may have, and then asking for their permission to speak with the girls who do have questions for me.

24242
Posts: 1417
Joined: Mar 2001

knowledge is truly power and who knows what that memory will do when they are older and might experience symptoms.  Children are not stupid and they ask because not knowing is worse probably than knowing.

I remember my grandmother's fight for life and it helped me when it came to fighting for my own I never forgot but it wasn't horrible and spurned me to self examine myself since a very young age better able to detect the lumps that occurred at 36. I was 5 at her time of breast cancer diagnosis and glad I knew what to expect when it came to my own stage 3 fight.

Sometimes those little eyess see things we do not... Those hearsts and minds feel allot...

Good luck

Tara

Rague
Posts: 3399
Joined: Aug 2009

My opinion - honesty is always the best policy.

It's been many years since I was a GS (or CampFire) leader.  I believe that the girls/young ladies (you didn't say what age yours are) deserve to be told the truth rather than to allow rumors to grow.  A joint meeting with the Scouts and parents together would be how I would have already handled it so that both groups were told at the same time.  There are probably a lot more people who already have heard rumors/half truths than you want to think if questions are being asked.  If they are old enough to ask questions - they deserve age appropriate answers.

This is a great 'opportunity' to educate/teach, not only the girls but their Moms also, with facts - not half truths and outright untruths that are so prevalent.  The idea of someone from ACS also being there is great!

Winyan - The Power Within

Susan

LC814's picture
LC814
Posts: 18
Joined: Aug 2012

Susan,

My Scouts range in ages based on troop level:

Daisies - 5-6 yr old (K-1 grade)

Brownies - 7-8 yr old (2-3grade)

juniors- 9-10 yr old (4-5grade)

Cadet 11-13 yr old (6-8grade)

the girls who have been asking the most are my brownies and Junior/cadets.

My Co leader for Junior/cadets has assisted me in writing a letter to the parents for a meeting. So we can sit down with the parents, and scouts with an ACS staff to explain what truly is going on based on the girls level. and that even though my fight isnt over that I'm not going anywhere. Then to answer any questions the girls have. Also, to hopefully give the parents knowledge and information about BC, and how to properly check themselves, and be prepared if God Forbid they find a lump, and If they havent gone for a Baseline yet, maybe realize just how important mammograms are.

Knowledge is power, and i think they are old enough to handle basic simple information. My youngest daughter was 8 yrs old when I was Diagnosed, and my oldest daughter was 11.  Their knowledge of this nasty beast has made it less fearful for them, not that its easier but at least they are able to understand why I lost my hair, and why i cant do as much as I used to do.  They understand this is temporary and I will eventually regain my health and  energy. that my hair will eventually grow back.

I wish my other co leader would change her mind, but she has her mind made up, that for her daughter she is too young to understand (her daughter is 8) that making aware of my BC would make her fearful, and give her nightmares.   She refuses to even go to the meeting herself without her daughter to support the other girls and their parents.

Thanks for your advice, I appreciate it.

 

 

SIROD's picture
SIROD
Posts: 2204
Joined: Jun 2010

Your co-leader sounds like she has a lot of fear about breast cancer.  Did someone close to her die from the disease.  

Why is she so resistant, there has to be a story behind that fear.

Best to you and your little scouts,

Doris

 

I once had a troop when my son was young.  They were a joy and brighten my week.

LC814's picture
LC814
Posts: 18
Joined: Aug 2012

Doris,

Good thought, but as far as I know she doesnt have anyone in her family that has been effected by breast cancer. I know her dad has been in remission from intestinal and anal cancer for over 10 years now.

I really have no idea what she fears about BC? Every time I have tried to bring it up she is very hesistant then changes the subject quickly.

Thanks, Hope all is well with you.

Liz

Ritzy's picture
Ritzy
Posts: 4384
Joined: Aug 2009

Have you come to any decision yet or have you already talked to your kids?  You are awesome, you know, for doing this.

I wish you well and can't wait to see an updated post.

Sue :)

Megan M's picture
Megan M
Posts: 3001
Joined: Dec 2009

Could you possibly mail a letter to all of the children's parents and tell them that on a certain day, you are going to tell them, in a way that they will understand at their age, about bc and what you're going thru now?  Then, if some parents do not want their kids to know in that way, they can just not let them come? 

I do think the children should know.  Knowledge is power, even if they are young.  And, they aren't stupid.  They know something is going on.  I know you could explain it to them and they'd understand and I bet feel better knowing.

And, thanks for all that you do for the kids!

 

Hugs, Megan

hope4thebest's picture
hope4thebest
Posts: 108
Joined: Aug 2012

Hi, I just wanted to commend you for your work and your effort to be true.  It is hard to share the news of bc diagnosis with others.  For me, I did not tell many, I did not want them to worry.  

Ultimately, some poeple want to know more, and some will not.  I like Megan's suggestion of a letter, because it allows people to be involved if they want to.  We all have choices!!  Kids are resilient, much more than adults (I think..).  If you address it in a mature manner, I imagine these girls will carry the experience for life and, like us, they will be stronger because of it.  

disneyfan2008
Posts: 5584
Joined: Oct 2010

I think you need to do what makes your feel better. There is no shame,as you know. I am not sure of the ages of the girls-but just give them "just enough' info to them. YOU said they are like your own children!

 

It would be great to bring someone with your to help explain-if you think it would be helpful to you!

 

best of luck..

Denise

Alexis F's picture
Alexis F
Posts: 3604
Joined: May 2009

What Denise wrote really sounds good.  Talk to them like they are YOUR children.  What did or would you tell your kids? 

Too much information can be a bad thing at times or even scary, but, information that is given for the right age, could make

them much more comfortable around you. 

Update us as to what you decide to do as this is an interesting topic that we could all benefit from possibly in the future.

jnl's picture
jnl
Posts: 3873
Joined: May 2009

How are you doing Liz and what has happened?  I keep looking for any update from you.

Hugs, Leeza

cinnamonsmile
Posts: 1068
Joined: Dec 2010

Since you are representing the Girl Scout Organization, if it were me, I would seek advice from my supervisor first on what to do. Then I would perhaps send out a memo or speak to each parent individually to find out if they, the parents, want to tell the children or if they want you to do it. Personally, if I were a parent, I would want to tell the children myself. I would not want it coming from the Girl Scout Leader, although later it would be ok when the kids want to ask questions. But I think each parent has the right to decide. You may find some that don't care, some, like me, that would prefer to hear it from me, or those that  tell you to go ahead and talk about it. But like I said, first of all, I think you need advice from the Girl Scout Organization.

Lynn Smith
Posts: 1265
Joined: Mar 2011

I would tell them.They already see something different.In fact they might know of others who had cancer and no hair. Theyr're asking you. Inquiring Minds Want to Know.

Someday some of these little girls could be faced with this.Whether it be a mom, aunt, grandma and then they find out early on in their life.  Some may already know someone who is a breast cancer survivor or a survivor of another type of cancer.Sounds like with all the questions they think something isn't right.. They're waiting to hear it from you.

Personally I would rather tell kids than adults.

Kids are smart.Always have been.

Lynn Smith  

Kristin N's picture
Kristin N
Posts: 1969
Joined: Mar 2009

I couldn't add better suggestions than you've already been given.  These pink sisters are so smart!  Do what you feel is right for your girls. 

Thanking you also!

Megan M's picture
Megan M
Posts: 3001
Joined: Dec 2009

Checking for an update to see what you might have done.  I hope everything is alright.

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