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10 Tips for Newly Diagnosed Families, From Childhood Cancer Families

December 5, 2023
4 min read
bad luck moms club

“I wasn’t a childhood cancer parent, until I was. Childhood cancer instantly changes your life and disorients you the second you hear an oncologist say the words ‘Your child has cancer.’ This is a time where you feel your absolute weakest, but you must be your strongest. Navigating the world after diagnosis is uncharted. There is no handbook to life with a child fighting cancer, so I’ve asked 10 childhood cancer moms from around the world what tips they would give to newly diagnosed families and this is what they shared.”

– Monica Padilla, founder of The Bad Luck Moms Club

Tip 1: “Breathe. Your whole world just collapsed from under you. Give yourself some grace as you come to grips with every parents’ worst fears becoming your new reality.” – Mom Colleen, Warrior Connor, age 3, metastatic Ewing sarcoma, Royersford, PA (@coll_doll)

Mom Colleen and son Connor

Mom Colleen and son Connor.

Tip 2: “Take time to grieve your child’s diagnosis. It’s important to make time to talk to a friend in private or even taking a moment of solitude to have a cry in the hospital shower…whatever helps you process the shock.” – Mom Dominique, Warrior Ashton, age 7, acute lymphoblastic leukemia T-cell, Sydney, Australia (@ashtons_leukaemia_journey)

Mom Dominique and son Ashton

Mom Dominique and son Ashton.

Tip 4: “Be your child’s biggest advocate. Question everything; treatment protocols, medicines, therapies, potential clinical trials available, holistic approaches, etc.” – Mom Erin, Angel Warrior Ayla, forever 6, diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), Columbus, OH (@aylas_army)

Mom Erin and daughter Ayla, forever 6.

Mom Erin and daughter Ayla, forever 6.

Tip 5: “Try to get outside! Even when in the hospital – with your child if you can. Ask staff who can help get your child moving and outside.” – Mom Katherine, Warrior Helena, age 13, germ cell tumor, London, UK (@katherine1694)

Mom Katherine and daughter Helena

Mom Katherine and daughter Helena.

Tip 6: “Find a therapist who validates your unique feelings, but also gives you tools to navigate this nightmare. You’ll never be the same person after watching your child fight cancer, but a certified mental health professional can help you pick up those shattered traumatized pieces of yourself.” – Mom Samantha, Warrior Charlie, acute lymphoblastic leukemia B-cell, age 4, Colorado Springs, CO (@strong.like.spidey)

Mom Samantha and son Charlie

Mom Samantha and son Charlie.

Tip 7: “With permission, voice record your doctors appointment so you can go back and re-listen to the information your doctor provides for a second time. This will allow you to share exact conversations with your family and also come better prepared with questions for your next appointments.“ – Mom Jenny, Warrior Sage, age 10, undifferentiated sarcoma – CIC DUX4, Charlotte, NC (@jgoodmansage)

Mom Jenny and daughter Sage

Mom Jenny and daughter Sage.

Tip 8: “Child Life Support can help make everything less traumatic. Not only will it help your child get through all the trauma, but it will also help you too.” – Mom Erica, Warrior Elijah, age 2, neuroblastoma, Phoenix, AZ (@erica.marie.cruz)

Mom Erica and son Elijah

Mom Erica and son Elijah.

Tip 9: “Survivorship starts the day of diagnosis. It is not just about surviving cancer but also thriving through cancer and being proactive to mitigate (if possible) all of the potential short and long term side effects that will come as a result of treatment.” – Mom Carolina, Warrior Anthony, age 15, medulloblastoma, Brea, CA (@rnmomcologist)

Mom Carolina and son Anthony

Mom Carolina and son Anthony.

Tip 10: “Find ways to feel empowered in this journey and show cancer who’s boss! It could be as small as getting a bumper sticker for childhood cancer and spreading awareness or hosting a fundraiser that directly benefits childhood cancer families.” – Mom Monica, Warrior Vera, age 4, acute lymphoblastic leukemia B-cell, Sacramento, CA (@mon_elisa)

Mom Monica and daughter Vera

Mom Monica and daughter Vera.

We are warrior Moms who call ourselves the Bad Luck Moms Club. When your child is diagnosed and you ask the oncologist “how could this happen?”, they tell you that it is bad luck! This is a club that no mother would ever want to be in, but we find comfort in community. We fundraise for our kids and kids just like ours through St. Baldrick’s, learn more here.