Parent Networking Group
For Parents of Adult Children with Breast or Gynecologic Cancer
By Lynda McKinley
I am a breast cancer survivor. During my diagnosis and treatment I did not look for a support group. I had a very supportive circle of friends and I thought that was enough.
Five years ago my daughter was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She was forty-three years old, single, and had no children. I knew immediately that I would not get through this without help. I would need the support of other parents who would understand the pain I was experiencing. This “role” comes with a whole set of issues that cannot be imagined if you have not been there.
I began making calls to find a support group for parents with adult children diagnosed with cancer; unfortunately, with no success. When I called the Coalition, I was advised that they had no such group but, because I was a survivor myself, I was encouraged to attend Brown Bag.
As a result of sharing my story, other parents came forward and shared theirs. With the help of the Coalition staff, the Parents Networking Group was formed. The group offers support to those of us who are trying to navigate this mine field of parenting an adult child with cancer. You want to help; you want to take care of this child because that’s your job. And that job doesn’t end because the child is an adult. Sometimes your help is met with gratitude (sometimes even asked for) and sometimes it’s met with anger and rejection. You never know what’s coming.
Sometimes your grief manifests as anger. This group gives us a place to reveal that, yes, at times we feel angry with this woman who is fighting for her life. Because others in the group have been in that place, they get it. No judgment. Everyone knows that you love your child and would do anything to save her. But at this moment, you’re angry.
Most important is that everyone understands the terror that you feel at the thought of losing your child. That was never the plan. Children bury parents, parents don’t bury children. That fear will never be realized for most of us, but it is there. And we have a safe place to talk about it with others who get it.
If you are reading this and have an adult child who has been diagnosed with cancer, please call the Coalition to receive a compassionate response and an invitation to our group. We meet on the first Tuesday of every month at 5:30pm. For those who have ever attended this meeting, please consider coming again. We need one another.