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Information central for parenting with breast cancer.

For The Press

Background

Stephanie Wagner was diagnosed with breast cancer in April, 2006, when her daughters were ages 5 and 7. Upon hearing the news of her diagnosis, Wagner’s thoughts went immediately to her girls. What should she tell them? How would she take care of them? What if she died? She began a fruitless search for information about how to care for one’s children while battling breast cancer. The result of her search is BreastCancerMoms.com.

This website is a collaboration between Wagner and several health care experts who, together, created a comprehensive resource to meet the parenting needs of mothers with breast cancer. The content of the site is also informed by current research on parenting, as well as interviews with breast cancer moms and their friends, family, and children.

Story Ideas

Unique Concerns of Breast Cancer Moms: All seriously ill mothers struggle to keep their families and households running smoothly, but moms with breast cancer have additional, unique concerns: a preteen daughter fearful of developing cancerous breasts, a toddler confused by hugs that feel different after his mother’s mastectomy, an adolescent son who simply turns red when he hears the word “breast.”

Discussing Breast Cancer with Kids: Healthy parents, let alone those who are distracted by their own disease, have difficulty discussing sensitive subjects, like illness, with their children. Explore ways to break the news, explain treatment, discuss death, and respond to questions generated by other kids, all in an age-appropriate manner.

Taking Care of the Kids: Moms who are sidelined by chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery need practical advice on accomplishing mundane jobs, such as preparing supper and getting the children to school. They also need tips for accomplishing tasks they had never before imagined, such as comforting a child when radiation has made mom’s chest too painful for hugs.

How Breast Cancer Can Help Children Thrive: Parents instinctively try to protect their children from painful experiences, such as serious illness. Unfortunately, children cannot develop certain skills without facing challenges. Breast cancer can be the source of lifelong lessons about trust, coping, and resilience. Moms can avoid the instinct to “protect” their kids and turn their breast cancer into a constructive experience for their families.

Breast Cancer Facts*

  • Of the 152 million females living in the United States today, about 3.5 million will be diagnosed with breast cancer when they have kids age 18 and under.
  • The incidence of early breast cancer among women under age 50 increased by 229% from 1975-2004.
  • Moms with breast cancer skew older than other moms, as both age and delayed motherhood are in themselves risk factors for the disease.

*National Cancer Institute, SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2004; Maternal Child and Health Journal; Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Contact Information

Click here to contact Stephanie Wagner or the experts who have contributed to this website.