Cancer and the Rest of Life


It is very difficult to go to school, or do much of anything, while undergoing treatment for cancer. For parents, it is a constant judgment call between allowing children to enjoy their normal activities and protecting them from exhaustion and germs. And those judgment calls extend to the rest of the family too – siblings who are frightened and depressed need their friends and routine, but cannot always engage.

Taylor was diagnosed at the end of sixth grade so missing those last few weeks was not a big problem. However, our older daughter was about to take her finals when her world was turned upside down. Our little one did not fully understand what was happening and needed her parents more than ever.

We immediately informed the school administrators there was a family crisis and let them take care of informing the individual teachers. Our girls’ emotional and academic needs would be well tended to at school without requiring us to go through the story innumerable times. Streamlining communications during a period of crisis is crucial.

We began home schooling Taylor immediately, knowing the next school year would be complicated at best. As it turned out, Taylor did not attend a single day of seventh grade. We continued her home schooling, but she was so sick that academics were ultimately put on the back burner. However, the teachers took great care in helping my other girls through school. They were distracted and anxious and needed a good bit of extra attention.

At a time when parents are overwhelmed with decision-making and unbearable fears, all we can do is simplify the things we can and forge ahead. Let family, friends, neighbors, and teachers help. Nobody asks for a crisis and it’s important to remember you’re only human.

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