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How to Juggle Cancer and Parenting: Angela Bass’ Story

Angela Bass
Age at diagnosis:
31
Diagnosis Date:
Aug 2011
Type of Cancer: 
Breast cancer – Stage 2B/3A Invasive Ductal Carcinoma
with lymph node involvement, Her2 positive, highly aggressive
stage at diagnosis: 
Stage 2b
Treatment Plan:
adjuvant chemotherapy, double mastectomy, expanders,
followed by gated radiation & an additional 6 months
of Herceptin infusions
Current Status: 
NED, baby!!

Angela Bass
How did you tell your kids about the cancer diagnosis?
I told my 3,3 and 4 year olds that Mommy was going to be sick for the Fall and will feel better in the Spring. We explained that Grandma was going to stay with us for awhile so she could play with them while I was at doctor appointments.

How did your kids respond?
They responded REALLY well. We made the head-shaving day into a party. We took tons of pictures and my kids helped pick pictures for my cancer blog.

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?
I told them what I knew. I didn’t overload them with information. I faked it.
After the first treatment, I knew I would not be very active about 2-3 days after treatment. I would tell them that I was going to chemo and that I would be ready to play with them in 2 days. Until then, my husband and my mom kept them busy at the park or on day trips. They didn’t really ever see me sick.

Is there anything you wish you’d done differently?
Nope.

How did the impact of cancer change as time passed, and your children grew? Did it change?
Right now, they are obsessed with cancer ribbons and people with cancer. They are caring. They are blissfully unaware that I may have a recurrence one day. I think they think everyone goes through this at one point in their lives.

Do you have concerns about the long term impact of your cancer on your children?
I’m afraid I will die of cancer and my children will lose their mother.

What advice would you give to other moms who are diagnosed with cancer?
Be honest, but keep details to a minimum. Don’t talk about dying.
Keep the kids out of the Oncologist’s office, chemo room, etc. They don’t need to see or remember that.
Spend as much time cuddling your kids as possible even though you may not feel like it.
They are feeding off you. They sense your fear and they need to know that you’re still there.

What concerns or fears troubled you the most?
repeat scans, aches and pains

How did you deal with those fears?
honesty, anti-anxiety meds, blogging

Have those fears and concerns changed over time?
I don’t worry as much. I reach out to God when I start to worry.
I appreciate every day.

What was your best moment?
Finding out they got all the bad cells out during my mastectomy.

What did you do to take care of you? How did you splurge on yourself?
I didn’t really do anything. I wasn’t in the mood for much, other than a little shopping here and there.

Were you able to get help from friends and family members while you were going through treatment?
Yes! My neighbors set up a meal train, Pink Daisy helped me a ton and my mom stayed with us to help me with the kids so my husband could still work.

Was it difficult to ask for help? Do you have any suggestions around the topic of asking for help?
I was horrible about asking for help. I have no idea how to do it gracefully.

Did you have an online resource that helped you through this experience?
just google, I googled EVERYTHING

Did cancer/treatment impact your relationship with your spouse/partner?
It made our marriage stronger; he’s my biggest cheerleader.

Do you have any relationship advice for young moms dealing with cancer?
Be patient. Your family isn’t psychic and they have no idea what you are going through mentally and physically. When you feel like exploding, take a deep breath. They’re trying….and this is probably harder on them than it is on you.

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?
No one understands the constant fears that are always in the back of your mind. Every ache, cough, pain may be a sign that the beast is back.
Just because you have completed treatment, it’s never really over.

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?
The Susan G Komen walk in Minneapolis was amazing! The amount of survivors and supporters was such an inspiration. I will go yearly!

Are there any resources that you recommend?
my blog!
I talk to tons of people who are undergoing cancer treatments. I have had almost 150,000 page views in a little over a year.
It’s amazing how many people reach out to the internet to find answers and someone to relate to.
I blogged from the day I was diagnosed and posted pics throughout the entire process.

coffeejitters border pink

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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