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Are My Scars Wounding My Kids?

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Momlogic's Jackie: When my boys were 21 months and 5 months, I faced my cancer risk head on and had my breasts removed. Two years later, they want to know why Mommy looks scary.

scarred breast

My kids have no recollection of what our family went through a couple of years ago. In fact, that's all by design. I made the decision to have surgery then because I hoped they'd never remember -- and it would keep them from worrying. 

One of the benefits of my perpetually perky new breasts is that when I lie down, they remain upright. Well, the other night while I was lying down reading my son a story, he exclaimed, "you must've had a lot for dinner because you're full!" This isn't the first time he's mentioned my breasts -- after asking about the scars every-so-often, I thought it was time to address it. I turned to momlogic contributor and parenting expert Jill Spivack to find out how I should broach the subject. 

"I would tell him first that he's asking a really good question and you're glad he asked. Sit down in a quiet place, privately, with him and tell him that some women get something inside their breasts called "cancer" and it's not supposed to be there. (Don't use the word "sick" as he may think that when he gets a cold or stomach flu, it could be more serious). You went to visit the doctors and they knew a lot of stuff about how to keep you from getting cancer.  The doctors decided that they needed to do an operation to keep it from getting into your body. But you still have some scars from the operation that they did.  Let him know that your scars don't hurt. Now, I'm not worried about cancer -- and mommy's body is all better." 

Jill also advised, "After you've explained this to him, I'd allow him to ask any other questions he has.  You'll want to take his lead before proceeding further.  It may take him some time to generate additional questions, so be prepared that this may not be the only conversation around this particular issue.  Also, make sure you aren't dropping him off at school or leaving the house immediately after discussing this as you'll want to give him some time to have you around should additional questions arise (or just for a reassuring hug!)" 

Jill adds, "When you talk to him, make sure you're in a confident place so you can be honest, clear and positive in regards to your overall well-being."

next: Child Dies in Car Outside of School
2 comments so far | Post a comment now
ashley October 12, 2008, 9:57 AM

My 6 year old sons PE teacher sat them all down one day and told them about when she had cancer and was told she only had 3 months to live and all her hair fell out. Some where in there she told them something about not getting enough sleep. So now in the evenings he says “I have to go bed and get enoughs sleep so I don’t get cancer”. So I have to explain that’s not how it happens. He also really likes to see my “smiley face”, my scar from my c-section when I had my daughter.

Ten Tees January 8, 2011, 2:14 PM

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