Mothering while Battling Breast Cancer

Motherhood is challenging. It comes with much responsibility, immense joy as well as guilt. It can be difficult to have confidence in raising these little humans to be well-adjusted, productive adults. For my first six years of motherhood, I was feeling pretty sure of myself, but then my world got turned upside down. I was 39 and was faced with a breast cancer diagnosis. I felt like I had fallen down a deep dark hole with no ladder to climb out. My confidence in motherhood was gone. How do you explain cancer to your young children while you’re fighting the hardest physical battle of your life?

One of the first things I did was go to the library in search of an age appropriate book that explained the basics of cancer. My sons Maxwell and Louis were just 3- and 6-years old. I wanted a book that instilled hope, a book that would help my kids be courageous when I would be looking and acting so differently.

Because I never found that book, I decided to explain what was going to happen to me in my own way. I described cancer as a bad weed in my garden. To be healthy, I needed the weed removed and take medicine to make sure the weed did not grow back.

Finishing my fight with children who stayed optimistic gave me the confidence to self-publish my family’s story to help others get through the awful battle of fighting cancer. My book is called OUR MAMA IS A BEAUTIFUL GARDEN and it is written in the voice of my two young sons. I hope having Louis and Maxwell tell our family story will give other families the strength and courage they need during an awful time that can feel quite hopeless.

I am now cancer free and celebrating the fifth anniversary of my book. I have re-launched a second edition and the international organization, Mom’s Choice Awards® has awarded OUR MAMA IS A BEAUTIFUL GARDEN their Gold Seal of Excellence, naming my book one of the best products available for families. Additionally, in recognition of helping mothers navigate their cancer battles with their children, I was named a ChangeMaker by the Minnesota Women’s Press.

During my battle with Stage 3 Breast Cancer, I continued to read to my boys; I read books about courage, like THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD by Watty Piper and stories about perseverance, like KATY AND THE BIG SNOW by Virginia Lee Burton. And, because I was bald, we read silly books, like I WANT MY HAT BACK by Jon Klassen. But mostly we read books about Wonder Woman, like WONDER WOMAN : I AM WONDER WOMAN by Erin Stein.

Over 1000 copies of OUR MAMA IS A BEAUTIFUL GARDEN have been sold and I have partnered with organizations such as Young Survival Coalition, Hope Chest for Breast Cancer, and Patterson Dental’s Grins for a Good Cause program to donate books to help families start a discussion on the topic of cancer.

My personal goal of the book is to help families find bravery and optimism during a time that can be so dark and hopeless. I am proud my book has received these prestigious honors. You can learn more about me and my book for children about breast cancer at my Website.

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