Parenting with metastatic cancer

My daughter and I during a family vacation in Maine

My daughter and I during a family vacation in Maine

Have you ever noticed how you much more you appreciate a sunny day after a week of rainy weather? Or a warm shower after a “roughing it” camping trip? Cancer is like that, I believe. For me, I’ve found I’m so grateful for things I used to take for granted before I was diagnosed.

My 14-year-old daughter Chrissy seems to understand this phenomenon. She has told me several times how my diagnosis made her appreciate our relationship more. We have always been incredibly close. I wonder if we would be as close if not for the uncertainties this disease brings. I find myself even being grateful during one of her “hormonal melt-downs.” How lucky I am to be here for her as she matures into a young woman! Next month, she graduates from junior high. I gave thanks to God that I’m here and healthy to send her off to the new adventure of high school.

It’s the ying yang of life, I suppose. For every challenging situation, there are silver linings. I spent most of my youth with a victim mentality. When I was going to junior high, I had poor self-esteem and a turbulent family at home. I saw the world, especially junior high, as an unsafe place. As I became older, I found healing through being in the outdoors, faith in God, and the goal to reverse the cycle of abuse and neglect of my past by being a good parent someday.

Little did I know that something like cancer would prompt further healing and help me become the parent I always wanted to be.  I’m not perfect, as my husband and daughter would tell you! But there’s nothing like a dose of mortality to kick your relationships in gear.

Chrissy has told me she is glad I don’t hide information from her. She’d always wonder what was going on and think the worst. I told her I will always keep her in the loop and that she can ask me questions anytime. She knows she’s an important member of our team.

No doubt, it can be difficult to discuss such a serious issue with your children. For information on how to talk to your kids, click on this link from the American Cancer Society. I’d love to hear from you on your experiences discussing cancer with your kids.

Tami Boehmer is a metastatic breast cancer survivor, speaker, blogger and author of From Incurable to Incredible: Cancer Survivors Who Beat the Odds. You can visit her at

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