Wise words from my teenager

Chrissy and I getting ready to dig into lobster on our family Maine vacation.

Chrissy and I getting ready to dig into lobster on our family Maine vacation.

When you are younger and have cancer, there is a whole slew of issues not faced by our older counterparts. One of them is parenting school-age or younger children. In honor of her 14th birthday (which was yesterday), here is a post from our wonderful daughter, Chrissy! I did not help her write any of this; it’s all from her. I’m so proud! Please share this with teens you know who have a loved one with cancer.

Hello! My name is Chrissy Boehmer, Tami’s daughter. My mom and I were talking one day and we decided that I should share my experience with having a parent with cancer as well as give some tips to parents and children who are dealing with this disease. I hope that this blog post is helpful to you, as well as other families dealing with cancer.

I have been dealing with my mother’s cancer nearly my whole life, since I was three years old to be exact. I don’t really remember much about her first diagnosis. Most of what I remember is that she had lost her hair and sometimes wasn’t home due to surgeries and chemo sessions. One memory that I still remember quite vividly was when she was in the hospital due to her lack of white blood cells. I didn’t really understand the importance of any of those things until I got older.
Ever since her second diagnosis a few years back, everything has made a much larger impact on my life. I now understand what it’s like to be afraid. Somehow, that scary thought about what could happen to Mom always stays in the very back of my mind, no matter how well things are going in my life. Over the years I have grown to be more independent, from staying home alone for a couple hours while my mom goes to get treatment to helping take care of her when she is not feeling well. All of this has helped me become a stronger person and even more grateful for the things I have.
However, even though cancer is a part of my life, I don’t let it take over my life. I consider myself to be an optimist and I enjoy spreading positivity within myself and to others. Of course, it isn’t like this all the time, but I’ve learned that keeping a positive attitude helps me enjoy each day. Below are some things that have really helped me become this way.
If you are a child or teenager who has a parent with cancer, here are some things that help me day by day to keep a positive attitude.
  • Talk with your loved ones. It’s never good to keep your feelings bundled up inside. I find that it always helps to talk to my mom and dad about whatever is on my mind. Be open with those you love and trust. If they truly love you, then they will understand your situation and maybe provide some help.
  • It’s okay to be sad. It may seem silly, but sometimes shedding a few tears can make me feel a million times better. Let your feelings out and don’t feel ashamed about it. This can release a lot of pressure that you didn’t even know you had built up.
  • You are not alone. There are countless kids just like you who have parents with cancer and sometimes talking to people who know what it feels like can stop you from wallowing in your misery. There are many ways to find kids just like you, just look online. One that I highly recommend is www.campkesem.org .
I also believe that parents can make a lot of the difference in how a kid deals to their parent’s cancer. If you have a child with cancer, here are some tips.
  • Be open. One common misconception is that it is better to hide their cancer from their kids then to be open. Due to my mom being open about her cancer with me, I am able to understand what is going on and see how I can help. This allows me to build a trusting relationship with her rather than making false assumptions.
  • Set an example. If you stay positive about your situation, your child will most likely do the same. It may be difficult at times, but if you keep an open mind you will not only be helping yourself, but helping your son or daughter.
  • Take advantage of the opportunities cancer can give. There are countless retreats, giveaways and services given to cancer patients. If you take advantage of these, you will open you and your childrens’ minds to seeing that cancer can actually have benefits.
I hope that this post has helped you all! Remember, this is from my personal experience with cancer and none of the things I mentioned are 100 percent sure to work. Have a great day!
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