Parenting - October 2014

My Mommy Has Breast Cancer


My mommy had breast cancer and she survived. I guess that sounds kind of funny coming from an adult, but it’s just the way I felt when my mom was diagnosed. She was only 37 years old; I was 12. Each year as October rolls around and Breast Cancer Awareness Month shines the spotlight on this devastating disease, my family is reminded how lucky we are to still have our family in tact.

My brother and I both vividly remember when my mom received the phone call. As young children, (my brother was only 8) we didn’t know what to do, so we just stood there as my mom paled and then cried after receiving the news. Soon after the whirlwind began. Grandma and Mammie were constantly keeping us and family and friends were helping out in every way. My parents chose to conceal the truth from us, while my mom’s biopsy and later her single mastectomy and breast reconstruction were ongoing. Back then, you didn’t hear about breast cancer at every turn and it wasn’t as widely educated to all ages. I remember my dad kissing me goodbye one morning and I looked him and asked, “Is Mommy going to be okay?” and he quietly assured me she would.

With today’s one-in-eight chance of women being diagnosed with breast cancer and the awareness that surrounds the research and support for women, the option for not disclosing the facts to children  becomes harder and harder. Local author, Gina Wright, of Beaufort recognized this when her lifelong friend was diagnosed. Gina’s friend, Karen Harris, a teacher in Beaufort and mother of two small children and was the inspiration behind My Mommy Has Breast Cancer. As Karen’s children, Katie and Grace, began questioning what would happen after she was diagnosed, Gina’s idea for the book was created.

I applaud Gina’s simplistic way of breaking down such an important life change that is occurring for these small children. She even attributes the name of the young girl in the story to them by naming her “Katie Grace.”  The story is accompanied by whimsical illustrations, by another local, artist Janine Yordy, former cover artist for Pink. Janine offered an appropriate child-like perspective to the story.

Gina begins her book by introducing “boobies,” bras and the basics. We have to know we have them to talk about them. She follows with how mommy has to check her boobies every month for any thing that feels “lumpy or bumpy.” From there she begins the journey of discovery as Katie Grace’s mommy finds a lump and visits the doctor. She breaks down the entire experience by describing a biopsy (a boo-boo under the skin), a double mastectomy, chemotherapy, losing her hair and how cancer can grow back. She ends the story with Katie Grace saying she has the luckiest mommy in the world and she is blessed with luck as well.

I found Gina’s rendition of Katie Grace’s experience awe-inspiring. It was a perfect, simplistic view of what a child would really want to know and learn as her mom was undergoing her journey. This book is a wonderful tool that can be used for young children to explain, learn and understand. You never know… I may have been better behaved if I’d known what was going on.

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