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How to Juggle Cancer and Parenting Series: Ari’s Story

Ari's Story
Age at diagnosis: 34 Diagnosis Date: 2009
Type of Cancer: Breast cancer – Stage IIIC triple negative breast cancer Stage at Diagnosis: Stage IIIC
Treatment Plan: double mastectomy, 16 rounds of chemo 1 year of avastin
and 25 radiation treatments.
Current Status: Currently NED

Ari's Story

How did you tell your kids about the cancer diagnosis?

We talked about the surgery to remove the sick breasts we talked about the medications and how they would cause. me to lose my hair and make me tired and not feel good. We had several books.

How did your kids respond?

Both girls were 3 years old and they did well we had a lot of support.

What are some things you did that worked really well for your family with regards to dealing with the cancer, and treatment, while raising children?

accept help when offered and ask for help when you need it,

Is there anything you wish you’d done differently?

I wish I had been well enough to work through treatment; the financial struggles were awful and still are. I should have asked for help sooner. People want to help and need to know what they can do.

How did the impact of cancer change as time passed, and your children grew?  Did it change?

I think some of the effects are just starting to show. The girls worry more than they should have to. They do not really remember how sick I was. Just that I was bald.

Do you have concerns about the long term impact of your cancer on your children?

I worry that as they get older the realities of cancer and the risk of losing ones life will worry them. They were to young to understand that cancer could kill.

What advice would you give to other moms who are diagnosed with cancer?

Be as honest as you can with your children. They will know something is wrong. If you talk to them they will be less fearful. I think the unknown is more frightening than the truth.

What concerns or fears troubled you the most?

The fear of not being here to raise my little girls. I was blessed by adoption and I was terrified I would not be alive to see my babies go to kindergarten. They are now 1st and 2 graders.

How did you deal with those fears?

I strengthened my faith and did everything in my power to get healthy.

Have those fears and concerns changed over time?

I still worry that the cancer will come back. I just take it one day at a time.

What was your darkest moment?

getting the pathology back after my mastectomy.

What was your best moment?

the last day of active treatment

Did you decide to add more children to your family after your diagnosis? How did cancer figure into your decision?

I would love another child

What did you do to take care of you? How did you splurge on yourself?

I rested when I needed to and spent time with family and friends

Were you able to get help from friends and family members while you were going through treatment?

yes. I was lucky

Was it difficult to ask for help? Do you have any suggestions around the topic of asking for help?

It was difficult and still is. But I have found that many want to help and do not know how to offer. They are often grateful to be able to do something for you.

Did you have an online resource that helped you through this experience?

Young Survival Coalition

Did cancer/treatment impact your relationship with your spouse/partner?

Yes very negatively. In the long run we will be getting a divorce

What is something you wish your friends and family members understood about your cancer and its impact on your life? What would you tell the friends and family members of other mom’s diagnosed with cancer? What would you want them to know about what she’s about to go through, and how best they can support her?

That cancer does not end when treatment ends; it forever changes you.

Were there any cancer-related activities or events in which you participated that you think were especially helpful to you or members of your family

YSC & LBBC conferences

Are there any resources that you recommend?

LBBC and YSC

What are some solutions you found to practical problems of combining cancer treatment with raising young children?

I was lucky my parents live close (5 minutes) so they kept my girls the night before treatment and the night after. They also kept them for the 4-6 week stretch after my mastectomy so I would not lift them. I was close enough to see them anytime and was able to let my body heal.cancer does not end when treatment ends

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You can find more on the How to Juggle Cancer and Parenting Series here:

manage cancer and parenting

Seattle writer, Judy Schwartz Haley, blogs about raising a toddler while battling cancer, finishing a degree, and fending off ninjas. Also, she needs more coffee.
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