Going through chemo with children



I was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer- IDC and DCIS -couple of months ago.  I’ve had a therapeutic mammoplasty on both left and right sides with a reexcision on the right to get clear margins on 24th May.  I am waiting for my results (also for genetic testing results) but know my treatment plan is chemotherapy once my wounds have healed, possibly a mastectomy, radiotherapy and tamoxifen as I’m ER+ and pre menopausal. 

I know this forum is for younger people, I am 50 but I hope you won’t mind me posting here as I have a 9 year old daughter and I’m trying to find ways to help her as I go through my treatment.  Unfortunately I’ve had various complications due to allergies with dressings, surgical glue etc… I have continual nausea and I’m not sure why.  I’m worried because she has seen me being very sick recently (vomiting) and in pain. I know this may only get worse once I start chemo.  I’ve been very open with her about my diagnosis whilst trying not to scare her.  My Mum and one of our dear friends have both had BC and are thankfully fine now which has reassured her somewhat.  She has seen my surgery scars etc and on the whole is coping well.  However, she is very worried about all the changes going on both practically eg having to go to after school club and physically, worrying about me looking different when my hair goes.  She is also obviously upset when I am sick.  I try and shield her but there are days when I am just feeling rotten and just have to resort to going to bed.  This is all before I even start chemo!! Has anyone any advice for helping children cope or just happy to share their experiences?  If you had chemo how did your children react?  I suppose I’m just looking for some reassurance that going through my treatment is not going to damage her psychologically forever!  Kind Regards 

Dear CDC1811

I am so sorry that you havent received a reply to your post yet, hopefully someone will be along soon.  Alternatively you may find it busier and access to more support on the Going through treatment area of the Forum.  There is also lots of helpful informatiion on the website about Talking with children which you may find helpful.  We have a fantastic team of speciailists on a free Helpline, 0808 800 6000, who would also be able to offer support.

Best wishes
Digital Community Officer

Thanks so much for your reply Anna. I have good support from the May Surgery thread so will mention my worries to them. Its a little different for me because I had my daughter when I was nearly 41. Many people have teens and older but she is obviously at a different level of maturity. She came with me to my local Maggies centre yesterday. I wasn’t sure if they allowed children to come in but they welcomed her and we were able to read some lovely picture books together in a cosy corner. I will find out if I’m definitely having chemo today and I’ve promised her I’ll borrow a sweet book about a mum losing her hair if I do. Glad to have found some good resources to share with her.

Hi ya,
I can’t really help as I am in a similar situation to you. 2 young children and I don’t qualify for the young women’s cancer group! I just wanted to wish you all the best and I am sure that you are doing your best with your daughter. It must be frightening for them but I imagine that being honest and open is the best policy. No secrets and talking openly will surely help them develop.
I have a family member who has been through it and I keep telling my daughters to talk to her if they feel as though they want to discuss anything with someone who isn’t me…
Have you told your daughter’s school? They have a lot of resource and methods to help children talk about feelings…?
Anyway just wanted to wish you all the best for your speedy recovery and getting in with the rest of your life…

I was diagnosed with HER3+ in February of this year. I also have a just turned 9yr old girl. I had 5 cycles of chemo, 6 cycles of herceptin and I have just recently had a lumpectomy and lymph node removal (this was precaution and hopefully will be clear when I get the results back on Monday). I will have radiotherapy after this and some form of targeted therapy drug for 5-10 as I also am pre menapausal at 43 

Explaining to my daughter I had bc was the hardest thing and after all of the initial tears and questions, she was generally good and has dealt with everything better than I expected. She knows that me having bc is not a secret,and if she wanted to talk to other people besides me and daddy that was fine by me. We informed her school, her friends and their parents. The hardest thing for her was me loosing my hair, she would love to brush it and when it started falling out she got upset, so when I finally decided to shave it off I sat her down and asked if she would like to do it, which she enjoyed…a little to much…afterwards she got a little upset but now she’s great about it.

My daughter is a mummy’s girl and we literally did everything together, so that has been so hard as I’ve literally felt like I’ve had no energy for the last 4months, it upsets me that I can not do the things we used to do together and feel guilty when she has to go out with friends in the school holidays rather than with me. And I’m always so tired that I get impatient with her, But what can I do, the guilt is there. She knows that I am poorly and this is the path I have to travel to get better. After chemo I would always push my self to go to work for a few hrs 2 or 3 days in the last week leading up to the next cycle of chemo, I think this gave her some stability and routine, knowing yup mummy is really poorly now but in a few weeks she’s not as poorly and is more like her self…granted a very tired version.

To answer your question, I don’t think your daughter will be messed up. I think she is at an age where she understands what cancer is and that although the treatment makes you poorly, you gradually get better. As long as your open every step of the way. My daughter needs the reassurance of knowing everything so when ever I get an appointment we sit down and discuss it, whether it’s a clinical appointment or surgery so that she knows everything. I also write in her school book so that the teachers are aware when I’m having treatment so they can keep an extra eye on her.

i hope you feel a bit more reassured, my advise just be open with her and let her know your there if she has questions and no question is too silly if it’s on her mind. Good luck with everything, any questions, or just general chat 

Hi CDC sorry if this a late reply just popped onto your thread . I am 48 with 3 children 12-7 years old. I am totally with you- this has all been so hard for me with the children.
Have you started your chemo yet?
Like you and others in thread I’ve always adopted the honest is best policy.
Just to share a little of how Hubbie and I have helped the chn with this all. Described chemo without using the word & talked about side effects rather than I’ll be Poorly. the children went out with Hubbie to get items for my ‘go to box’ - ginger ale, biscuits, etc. As they collected they found out how these would help me. I’m now day 6 of cycle 2- children talk about SE and offer their help- I think a ginger ale will help Mum…
However we try to carry on as normal and not let the treatment dominate our lives- this is hard sometimes.
We plan and do ‘fun things’ as much as possible- made cakes with middle child today for Fathers Day, planning a trip out, movie nights - just ‘normal’ things.
I plan my rest times during the week so I have a little more energy when they are home. During weekends I know I’ll be exhausted but try and juggle.
However I’m starting to be worried about the 6 weeks summer hols- any tips from anyone would be great. I start cycle 4 of FEC-T on day 1 of hols.

Hi cdc1811


It’s Emily here frmo Breast Cancer Care.


I’m really sorry to hear about your side effects from treatment, especially when you have a young daughter. I just wanted to let you know that we have a few email and telephone volunteers who have experienced something similar. If you’d like to email someone, then **Tamsin **also had young children during her chemotherapy.  


Or if you’d like to chat to someone over the phone, then feel free to give me a call on 0345 077 1893 and we can put you in touch with a volunteer by phone.


Best wishes

Emily at Breast Cancer Care