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Mommy, don't go to the hospital...

ruggersocks's picture
Posts: 78
Joined: Aug 2006

I was diagnosed with rectal cancer in May 2006 and after chemo/radiation in June, surgery will be on August 28th.

Well, the above words were spoken by my 3 1/2 yr old daughter. I had briefly told her a few days ago that I would have to go to the hospital. I didn't get into specifics and haven't really spoken about it since then. Last night she was just hysterical about me going to the hospital. Basically I told her that sometimes people are sick, like Mommy, and they need to see a Doctor to make them feel better. And to do that I have to visit the doctor in the hospital. That I wasn't scared to go and I was happy to be able to get well. She seemed to settle down a little after that.

I realized not talking at all about the hospital/doctor stuff is causing her a lot of stress. Has anyone dealt with this - especially with a young child? I am at a loss right now and just heartbroken.

Thanks in advance,

StacyGleaso's picture
Posts: 1249
Joined: Mar 2003

Hi Cheryl,

My kids were 2, 4, & 7 when I was diagnosed with Stage 4 nearly 5 years ago this October. I gave them little bits of info, just as you have, to give them a sense of knowing what is going on, without scaring them. My sisters took really good measures to take them to a few fun places while I was out of commission, in order to keep their mind off things. Kids are SO smart, and they deserve a degree of info, but not enough to make them fearful of things like hospitals, docs, etc.

My kids were TOTALLY my motivation to get through things....and it worked!

Stay strong, and let me know if I can help further,


KathiM's picture
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

Call the hospital, talk to the patient care coordinator. Say what you just wrote here. Ask what to do, I used to work in a hospital....big, scary place...BUT this employee should be able to help....he/she deals with children quite often....judging if a 'tour' is necessary. THAT IS WHAT THESE PEOPLE ARE PAID TO DO!

PLEASE don't be mad, but I agree that you need to share, at a VERY small level, what is happening to you....could be you have been transmitting some of YOUR anxiety to her, which is VERY normal....
Until kids turn adolescent (at which time we parents DO NOT KNOW ANYTHING, and are NEVER right...sigh), WE are on a pillar. She needs to be part of the team, cause when mommy comes home, she will see a difference, too. Get her involved...for goodness sake DON'T say (of course you wouldn't, but....) 'mommy has cancer'....THAT is a VERY SCARY WORD!!!!
If you have had chemo/rad, she is already VERY aware of mommy being sick....
I have 2 special needs kids....so, even tho they are older physically, emotionally, well...one will start hurting HERSELF if she thinks anything is wrong with me that I am NOT telling her....her imagination runs unchecked. I got her thru both my cancers, my chemo, everything, by making her a part of my 'team'....

Hugs to you getting better....been there/done that....

A loving mommy....

Posts: 768
Joined: Aug 2004

Hi Cheryl,

My girls were 5, 12, and 15 when I was diagnosed. My 15 yr. old knew what cancer was. So, that discussion was completely different than the one with my 5 year old. ( my middle girl has many disabilities, so that is whole other discussion)

My little one didn't understand the situation. I made a very strong point of NEVER saying that I was sick.. To this day, that phrase bothers me. I told her that I was going to get some "bug juice" ( that's what we called chemo) and that I wasn't always going to be feeling great. THe kids were in school so that helped. ( my oldest was taking finals and Regents DURING my surgery. She did great!!

I always told them that it wasn't a death sentence to have cancer. I always tried to continue on as best as possible.

I had and still have a great attitude towards the situation. Try and stay happy. Let them see you cry , when you need to cry. I don't believe in hiding things from them.

Reassure your young one. Tell her she can viasit you in the hospital. We took a picture of the two of us and she put it on her wall near her pillow. ANd I had my copy of the whole family right next to me in the hospital. We talked on the phone every day.

We decided to let her visit after I was in my regular room a few days. No need to scare them with all the tubes and monitors.

She drew pictures for me each day, which I put up in the hospital room.

She did great.

Best of luck.


Kanort's picture
Posts: 1275
Joined: Jan 2004

Dear Cheryl,

I don't have children so I can't offer you any words of wisdom. I am so sorry for your diagnosis and will be keeping you and your family in my heart and prayers.

My fellow semi-colons have offered you great advice. Please come here often so we can be with you and help your through your cancer journey.



Posts: 126
Joined: Jan 2006

Hi Cheryl,
First of all, I'm sorry to hear about your diagnosis. It is all very overwhelming right now, but it will get better.
My son was 5 at the time of my diagnosis (October 2005). I told my son that something was wrong in my body and the doctors needed to remove what was wrong. When we found out that it was stage 3a, I told him that I would need to take medicine (chemo). We never used the word cancer around him, mostly because how other people react to the word. I made sure never to say "sick", because I didn't ever want him to associate being sick with going to the hospital. I also made my son my number one priority. I asked my husband and parents to be with him rather than visit me in the hospital. I used the hospital like a spa and slept and relaxed. YOU need to recover as quickly as possible so that life can get back to normal. Kids are incredibly resilient, and so are moms.
Best wishes,

Posts: 1560
Joined: May 2006

Dear Cheryl,

I agree with everybody here.

Best wishes for your surgery.

God Bless, Eleonora

Posts: 553
Joined: Mar 2006

Hi Cheryl,

I haven't gone through what you are going through now, however I can imagine how difficult it must be to have to explain all of this to a 3 1/2 year old. That must have been so hard for you. I just want you to know that you WILL get through all of this and before you know it, you will be home again with your daughter. If you can get other family members to help, definitely take advantage of that. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

God bless you and your family,


jams67's picture
Posts: 927
Joined: May 2006

Children that age are not as worried about you as they are about themselves. The moon revolves around them and follows them everywhere they go. They are very anxious about being without you at home, and that is where you need to direct your attention. I hope this will help. I'm the grandmother of a 3 1/2 year old and mother of 3 daughters, also a retired elementary teacher.
On a lighter note, my granddaughter and daughter were discussing smoking and how bad it was for your lungs. My daughter explained how you breathe and your chest expands etc. My granddaughter thought about that and said, "but pot smoke is ok to breathe, right mama?" My daughter said, "What do you mean?" And she said, "You know, the kind in the kitchen from pots." jams

KathiM's picture
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

Ok, jams, congrats....You win the prize today for making me laugh!!!!!

Thanks for the giggle!


ruggersocks's picture
Posts: 78
Joined: Aug 2006

Thank you all so much for your replies, internet hugs, and words of comfort/wisdom. I've been playing 'doctor' off and on with my daughter today and we drew a picture of the hospital. And a picture of mommy and daddy going to the hospital with big smiles on their faces. I'll continue to have small conversations with her as little or as often as needed to make her feel ok. Grandma and Grandpa will be here during the week of surgery and Daddy has already scheduled around his work to be home early for playtime, etc with the girls. I'll keep you posted on everything! Thanks again. Much love, Cheryl

scouty's picture
Posts: 1976
Joined: Apr 2004

Hi Cheryl,

I know there are books about there too. I think I saw a few on the American Cancer Society's web site. They publish and also list other books they recommend. I also know there are books you can read to the younger ones explaning everything. I know because my very talented dog is trying to write one just to be read to special darlings like yours.

Your message touched my heart. I wish you well and please keep us posted.

Lisa P.

Posts: 425
Joined: Jan 2005

Aw sweetie- my heart goes out to you with such young ones..we have teens and it is an entirely diffent story..you will know in you heart what is the right thing to say to them...I pray that everything works out just fine for you.

vinny3's picture
Posts: 933
Joined: Jun 2006

It is very difficult with such young children. HOwever you have gotten good advice here. Having someone do some activities to entertain them would be good. I found that when I was in the hospital I didn't care that much about visitors. If I wasn't out walking, or eating I was usually sleeping. My family limited the visits and it was much appreciated. As a present to myself I bought an IPOD for use in the hospital to listen to my favorite CDs and that helped.
Good luck in your surgery, our prayers will be with you.

staceyp's picture
Posts: 26
Joined: Jan 2006

Hey Cheryl,

I am sorry that your family has to go through this. Our children were 3 and 6 when my husband was diagnosed 2 years ago. We told them what was going on but they were so young that they didn't truly comprehend it. My daughter told her teacher that her daddy was away to get sugery for "Kansas". Her innocence was a blessing.

Unfortunately, he had a recurrance about 6 months ago. They are older now and much more aware of how serious their dad's condition is. We are very open and tell them everything, but always assure them that he will be okay. Hint: You have to believe it to get them to believe it. We even let them touch his mediport and surgical scars. They have even been to the doctor to visit while he was getting chemo. What they imagine is far worse than what really is.

I encourage you to be as open as you can with your daughter. Reassure her that you will be okay. Encourage your family and friends not to ask how you are doing with the look of pity on their faces. My kids always picked up on that.

Good luck. If you need to talk, drop me an email. I'll be glad to help.


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