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Information central for parenting with breast cancer.

Ask The Expert

The following questions have been answered by the experts who have developed the material on this website. Click here to learn more about them. To submit a question for our experts, click here.

My in-laws want to help us by taking care of my kids, but what we really need help with is my medical bills. How can I ask my in-laws to help us financially?

The best approach is to be open and honest. You might say, “We are so grateful for your support, and we appreciate your willingness to help take care of the kids. There’s another way you can help. We’re really struggling with my medical bills. Are you in a position to consider helping us financially?” It may not have occurred to them to offer financial assistance. Or, they may not have offered it because they’re not capable of giving it. Go ahead and ask them, but be prepared to accept their answer.

My mother offered to take care of my 3-year-old so my husband and I can go away for a weekend before I start treatment. I don’t think this is a good time to leave my son. What do you think?

You and your husband would be wise to take your mother up on her offer. Being alone with your partner can restore mental, emotional, and physical energy for parents of young children. This is especially true for parents facing a health challenge like breast cancer.

You might consider initiating a ritual that could continue later, when you start treatment, so that your child will have something to remind him of you when you aren’t there. You can record yourself reading a story aloud so he can listen later. You can create a special photo album for him. Or you can make a scrapbook that he can fill with special projects while you are gone.

You will have plenty of opportunities to be there for your son. He may miss you while you’re away, but he will benefit in the long run from the time you spend alone with your husband.

I have breast cancer, and I tested positive for the BRCA-1 mutation. Should I have my daughters (ages 7 and 10) tested?

Your daughters will gain no advantage from being tested at their age. First, they are too young to develop breast cancer. Second, if your daughters test positive for the mutation, they cannot take any action at this time to reduce their risk, other than maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Finally, the relevance of the test results will likely change with the rapid advances in breast cancer research.

Consider waiting until your daughters are old enough to understand the implications of being tested. Then they’ll also be in a position to take action to reduce their risk, if they so choose.

Some parents fear that a positive test result could have a negative effect on their child’s ability to secure health insurance in the future. Recently, federal legislation has been passed to protect genetic information in the health insurance arena. If you are concerned about this issue, you may want to speak with a lawyer to best understand how the new law applies to you. You might also contact a genetics professional to discuss testing your daugthers and to learn more about this law. You can find a genetics counselor by visiting the National Society of Genetic Counselors.

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