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Advice from a Mother Whose Son Had Cancer

Every month is a good month for gratitude.

But Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September is an especially good time to celebrate and honor the courage of others. Those of us who have fought cancer ourselves and with loved ones stand on the shoulders of those who have fought cancer before us. Your fight inspires us to continue. We are grateful to you. Thank you.

In addition to expressing my gratitude, I’d like to share some advice drawn from my own experience with my son’s cancer, in the spirit of warmth and encouragement.

Practical tips in the fight against cancer

Don’t do Internet searches late at night. Things look scarier when you’re alone and tired.

Simplify your life to reduce stress. As you try to balance medical appointments with family time, choose activities that are close to home so transportation is easier.

Keep a bag full of activities (for your child and for yourself) in the emergency overnight bag—you never know how long the hospital stay will last.

Ask friends and neighbors for help. Often people are afraid of being intrusive. Communicate your needs clearly so others can determine how best to meet them.

Ask everyone to wash or sanitize their hands and wear a mask (if they’re sick) around your child.

Friends of families in the fight, be proactive. Set-up play-dates. Keep them short and make sure your kids are healthy. Help shop for groceries, prepare meals, and run the household smoothly. It takes a village to help a child fight cancer.

Caregivers, take time to care for yourselves in order to be effective. Your health is important, too!

If tomorrow looks daunting, focus on the hour, then the one after that.

What I’ve learned on our journey

Fighting cancer has taught me that every day is a gift. Every smile is a gem. Tucking everyone in bed under the same roof is a joy. Weekends with nothing to do are good. Children with cancer just want to be “normal” and “normal” is great. We don’t have to be extraordinary. We can be content with simple pleasures.

We’re all “mother bears” protecting our young: Every parent whose child has cancer thinks that their kid is the most courageous person they know, and every parent is absolutely right!

Liz Poux is a mom of three with a Biology degree from Yale and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Her son Nico is a leukemia cancer survivor. Drawing on her own experience, Liz is writing a book about the challenges of caring for a child with cancer. When she isn’t advocating for bone marrow donations or supporting families in their fight against cancer, Liz loves woodworking and making beautiful furniture.

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