Unless they notice or ask, I wouldn't say anything.
Cervical Cancer Questions
People STARE! When my children are with me . . .
Asked by SouthernMom on Saturday, February 16, 2013
People STARE! When my children are with me . . .
I am not especially concerned about people starring at me now that have no hair - when I am alone, but what do people say to their children when everyone is starring, at say, the grocery store, or gas station? Again, my struggle to help them deal with this . . .
13 Answers from the Community
I got that too, lost my hair completely once, then only lost the back half in radiation. I did look a little goofy. I didn't care but my nephew, who is more like my son, didn't like it. He used to get mad and make faces at the other kids looking at me.
I told him it didn't matter to me, I didn't care if they were staring, they were just trying to figure out why I had hair like that or no hair. I let him take a sharpie and draw a smiley face on the back of my head. I told him now when they are looking at the back of my head, I will be smiling at them.
I know the hair thing is tougher on women that men. As far as your kids you might just try to let them know that it doesn't bother you and all the other kids looking are just curious.
I am the caregiver not the cancer patient, but I have lost my hair. I think I imagined people talking about me behind my back and starring at me. Today I saw a young woman with downy soft hair on top, and carrying a baby in a baby carrier in front, and I couldn't help but look. I immediately made eye contact and said "good day" and told myself to remember to write her in my prayer book.
The only time I went bald in public was one time at the beach, each time I went in the water. People were very polite and did not bother me (I was twice asked if I had cancer while wearing a scarf, and it was to follow up with supportive words).
I saw a bald woman at Macy's while I had my scarf on an I stared. I stared because she looked so good bald, and had courage that I lacked to show her baldness.
What you describe is the reason I hid my baldness, I felt very uncomfortable with the extra attention because of illness (I guess in my mind it identified me as a weaker animal, and I didn't want to advertise it. Wrong, but hats how I felt).
My parrot was just confused by my lack of hair, didnt have a place to land ;)
I remember seeing a bald little boy at a baseball game, and KNOWING that he was a chemo kid, just like my niece....the skin color, the circles under the eyes...and caught myself staring cause I wished that I could say something to help him, and tell him I was cheering for him, but Ididn't want to disturb his happy day, so I didn't say anything. Tell your kids what my sister in law told her daughter - people are concerned & sad that you are sick and want to wish you well, but don't want to bother you.
I agree with GregP_WN. Our society encourages women to style or color their hair. Although I have not lost my hair, several women have reached over to touch it which seems ironic. Guess they wanted to see if it was real, but I am all for wearing a scarf or a hat. I have seen comfortable hats that have long hair that sticks to the edges of the hat. Very nice stuff 'cause I'm always cold.
I would say that talking about this at home is a smart smart move. Ask your five year old questions like these...
Did you notice those people staring?
Why do you think they are staring?
How do you feel when they stare?
How do you think they feel?
(this one is interesting because kids have all kinds of interesting ideas about what they think people are actually thinking)
How do you think it makes me feel?
You can share with your child how it makes you feel - maybe it's no big deal - maybe it makes you feel shy or even a little bit sad. Of course, temper how much you share depending on your child's age and needs....
And just let your child talk about it.
Accept whatever is said as your child's truth.
Then, ask if your child has any questions.
I typically checked in with Tre about once a week - asking if he had any questions about cancer or if he wanted to talk about cancer. Often, he simply didn't want to talk about it... and I mostly accepted that and let him have that control.
Also, kids need to know that they are going to be taken care of. So, your child might be thinking about or feeling scared about having her needs met... You know what I mean? They need to know they are safe.
We can't promise that the treatment will definitely work or that no recurrence will happen. But, we can promise that our children will be taken care of. Does that make sense?
We have been super lucky up here in Minnesota - there's an organization called Minnesota Angel, which is an organization that serves families with a parent dealing with a cancer diagnosis. We have all kinds of programs.
One is a six weeks long program that brings families together - serves us dinner - then separates us for group work - children going into age specific groups... and adults staying together for a support group. We talk about development and age appropriate information about our cancer diagnoses. A point driven home time and time again is that our children just need to know that they will be cared for - they will be safe.
Another is a cancer summer camp - day camp for the younger kids and overnight camp for the teenagers.
Another is the winter retreat, which is a full day for families... combination of together time and separate time. The kids love it.... We went last year, and it was a really really good experience. This year, my child's hockey banquet conflicted...
Anyway, my point is, can you find out whether you have a resource like this? It's been so helpful to us - to be able to connect with other parents dealing with this cruddy thing. And, the children all know that all of the children there have a parent dealing with a cancer diagnosis. Our ten year old (at the time) TALKED about cancer!!!!! He talked about it with us a bit - here and there ... but thorugh this organization, he got to talk about it with kids in his age group. with guidance for very skilled adults.
THrough your cancer center, there is probably a social worker who can help connect you with this kind of resource. It was a big deal for us - I'm super glad that we've been doing things through this organization. By the way, it's called Minnesota Angel, but it's not a religious organization...
Best wishes - it's hard..
Remember when the US Women's Soccer Team won the World Cup and Brandi Chastain pulled up her shirt - and later wrote a book entitled, "It's Not About the Bra"? Well, if I could write a book about my cancer journey, I would call it "It's Not About the Hair." There is a children's book called "The Nowhere Hair" that you might use to sit down with your kids so they understand what's happening when their mom has cancer. Then they will have some defenses against people who stare and some coping mechanisms to get past it. I always found that dignity in the face of rudeness works best - plain, simple dignity, head held high, hair or no hair. Children are keenly observant and will read your reaction to the stares and follow on accordingly. If they feel that you are not embarrassed then they won't be either. If you want to say something to your children, try something simple and light - maybe ask them, "Do you think I should tell her/him that the wind is really blowing outside, so hard it blew off my hair?" Or "Maybe I should tell him/her that at least I don't have any bad hair days." Your children should feel proud of their mom, and know what other people think doesn't matter one bit.
I took the advice reccomended by the American Cancer Society and I chose not to let my 11 year old daughter see me bald. I wore one of my several cotton caps or my wig. I found all of them comfortable.
We live in a small town and I just didn't want people questioning my daughter on my cancer situation. So I let her know from the start that I would get very sick before I got better. On really bad days she stayed with my in laws because I just did not want her to see me suffer. When I had surgery she stayed with them for two weeks.
We talk about cancer, we talk about her feelings but she has not seen me at my worst. I did not want her to be frightened or worry about me..
To be honest I just rather not deal with people staring or saying things, asking questions, etc...when I'm with my kids. I wear my beanies, or a wig when I'm out in public. We haven't really had to deal with the staring thing much. Some people are comfortable going bald in public, and that's great. I'm not, and I'm ok with that.
I'm sorry you have these challenges to face, try to be good to yourself, look towards your future & stay positive. Sharing you feelings here with supportive others helps alot. I was also dianosed with cervical cancer last month & will be starting my treatment soon. Is there a cancer wellness center in your community you could go to? I might take advantage of the one we have here in Illinois, they offer free counseling, many classes with various pain coping alternatives, massage, yoga, hypnosis etc. Look for a supportive group, you're the same great smart person you always were, stress & pain tends to shut down our thoughts. You'll be in my thoughts & prayers.