Understanding Kids When You Have Cancer, Episode 2

Hello Beautiful! This is the second episode of a three part blog series about how to grow closer as a family and support your kids when you have cancer.

In this edition, I talk about the healing benefits of journaling that we discovered together, as a family.

My twins Macie and Griffin loved seeing how happy journaling made me feel.

Before I started to journal I cried a lot.  

Journaling my thoughts gave me a focus and purpose. Each day I would write about a quote I had read or about something that upset me that day. I used my favorite book at that time called, You Can’t Ruin My Day to help me survive ... no joke, this book saved my life.

It taught me how to not react in certain situations. It taught me that I had a choice in my feelings and in my reactions. This was a new concept for me.

I had given my power away most of my adult life and this is something I never want my kids to emulate. If I was going to die, THAT was the one and only lesson I wanted to teach my kids. You have the power to make choices! Do not let others negatively influence you or ruin your day!

I asked my twins Griffin and Macie (both 9 years old): “How afraid were you when you found out your mom had cancer? Describe it to me.”

To follow is what they said. I did not edit or change anything. There is so much power in the words and pictures that my son Griffin wrote. This was it. This was the only time he journaled with me. I tried to get him to do it again, but I think that one time was enough for him for awhile. He GOT OUT his feelings and anger, and I swear he has been a different kid since. Even he would admit that. I asked him last year, “Why do you think you stopped being so angry, bud?”

He said, “I just woke up one day and decided to not be angry anymore.” I was driving in my car and I had wished I had a recorder because those simple words brought me to TEARS. He actually LISTENED to me. He HEARD the lesson I was trying to teach him. For the first time in my life, I felt like a good mom. For the first time in my life I felt like my kids respected me.

This is only one of the short stories that I will write about in my book Cancer Saved My Life, but really, THIS is exactly why I tell people cancer saved my life. Cancer brought me closer to my children. Cancer opened my eyes to love, true authentic love. Cancer taught me to teach my kids to love themselves and to respect and have compassion for others, no matter what.

Living with cancer taught me to forgive myself and others, NO MATTER WHAT, and this is something I want to pass on to my kids. These are big lessons for my little kids to learn.

Cancer hasn’t been fun for me or my kids, but I do believe that cancer has changed all of us in some way.

Here is Griffin’s story. He labeled it, “Griffin’s end of the story” It brings me to tears (happy tears) reading this because It takes me back to this day. This story is precious and I cherish it with all of my heart.

Griffin's end of the story.

I thought when my mom had cancer I felt bad for her because cancer is hard to fight especially the cancer they said she had. Also I did not get to see her that much because she was in the hospital all the time trying to fight the cancer. I knew what cancer was at that time when she was in the process of getting the cancer. I think cancer is just a waste of time and cancer has no point. It does nothing except hurt people or kill people.

When I knew my mom had cancer I was worried because I heard that cancer can kill people. I was angry and sad because she had cancer when she was younger, near the age 4 and that was sad even though I was not alive. I still felt really bad for her.

When I saw my mom with no hair, I was like, “What happened to you?” I did not know that chemotherapy kills your hair. The medicine kills you. Or you can say, it is poison, but that is what kills cancer. Also when I saw my mom sick I did not know what had happened to her because she did not know either. When I saw my mom in the hospital I thought that must be painful because it just looked painful. Even though I was not in her situation, I could see her pain. That made me sad.

When My mom had cancer she acted tired and she could not move that well so that is why I cook dinner for her because she was tired and stressed from all the medicine.

The hardest thing when my mom had cancer for me was when she had all the tubes in her. She had nose tubes, and tubes where she would pee. She had a colon bag on her stomach. She could not walk or drive. She could not do anything active, but when she got older or more done from cancer she could teach her friends and have more fun than the boring things that she had to do.

What I learned from having my mom have cancer was to be careful and not get too mad and stressed and wash your hands so they stay clean.

I said to my mom, “But I don't wash my hands. I don’t get sick and she responded and said then you must be doing something right or you are just healthy and I said, “probably.”

If I had to give advice to other kids if their mom or dad have cancer, I  would tell them to help their parents carry stuff and say I love you a lot  because you never know what could happen to your parents.  I told my mom that I loved her a lot, and she loved what I said to her.  Also, tell your parents Never Give Up!

I am going to tell you how my mom found out she had cancer. My mom found out when her stomach Started to hurt for a while and she had no clue what it was.  She went to the doctor and they took x-rays of her stomach. They told her she had a tumor in her and that meant that she had cancer. That tumor grew and that is called stages and it grew until it got to the worst stage.  She had the worst tumor that you can have and her cancer name was Ovarian Cancer. It is one of the worst you can get and has no cure and she survived.

Also she is living now and she is cancer free which is good. She has been having a great life and I am so proud of her for surviving that hard year of cancer. I am Thankful for having you as a mom, I love you mom.

I want to end on that sweet note because it makes me smile big and beam with JOY! Next week, you’ll hear more about my kids’ feelings, observations and lessons from my time with ovarian cancer.

I hope this episode inspired you to LOVE and EMPOWER yourself and your kids (loved ones, if you don’t have kids) even more!

Until next week!


Do you find journaling to be healing too? And, have you ever journaled with your kids?

If you found inspiration to journal your way to more joy after reading this post, and know someone who could use a pick-me-up, please share this with them.

HUGS AND LOVE,

EMILEE 💕

Understanding Kids When You Have Cancer, Episode 1

Hello! This is the first episode of a three part blog series about how to grow closer as a family and support your kids when you have cancer.

(And, basically you can apply this to any type of crisis you can go through.)

I’m enjoying spending lots of time with my children this summer and I hope that you and your closest loved ones are having fun too.

This is the first summer that I’ve had 100% of my energy back and have been able to give my kids 100% of my attention. This is so important to me because before cancer, I really did take it for granted that I would always be around to give them all of my love and attention. I’m sure you know what it’s like as a parent to be pulled in a million directions and put off spending quality time with those you love.

Going through this journey has helped me appreciate time spent with my favorite people, like my family, friends and clients.

Without further ado, here is episode 1 of Understanding Kids When You Have Cancer …

When do you tell your child you have cancer?

Should you tell them the whole truth?

Do you really know how your kids feel?

Have you ever asked yourself these questions if you are a parent of young children and you have just been diagnosed with cancer?

Many parents are afraid to tell their children that they have cancer because when you say the word, “CANCER”, the first thing kids think is “OMG, my mom is going to die.” Fear takes over their little minds and they don't understand or have the words to express themselves. That is exactly what my kids thought. The first question my son Griffin (8 years old at the time) asked me was, “What stage is it?”. He knew cancer by the stages. He had seen a friend’s mom go through cancer. She had stage 4, so he kept asking me if it was the worst stage? I told him I had a stage 111C. He didn’t really get what the C meant and I didn’t really either.  Later, I learned that “C” meant that my type of ovarian cancer had metastasized into my abdomen and pelvis region. Basically, the cancer had spread away from the original site. This is never a good thing.

If you haven’t already discovered this you soon will; cancer impacts the entire family. You will start to see your kids act out and that is because they are scared. This is normal behavior. My kids were also dealing with their parents going through a divorce so the feeling and emotions were at an all time high. Let’s just say, It was the most stressful year of my life. That year taught my kids and I so much stuff, but what it taught me was that if I can survive a divorce and cancer at the same time, I can do anything.

My kids noticed my optimistic, positive attitude and that was one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. My kids are more resilient from this and so am I.

I wanted to share some of my personal stories with you because I felt so alone during my cancer treatment. I didn't reach out for support at first because I didn't want it to seem like my life was falling apart. I was trying to be the pillar of strength for everyone and I barely had enough energy to take care of myself. I am starting to see that there are many other moms out there just like me. They too are going through a divorce and cancer at the same time. If that is you, please feel my arms wrapped around you at this moment because I know exactly where you are and how stressful these days can be.

Some days I felt like a terrible mom when my kids begged me to play with them. I just didn’t have the energy. They didn’t know that and I felt like they thought I was ignoring them. That was the hardest for me. In Episode 2 of this series, I will share some of the journal entries my twins Macie and Griffin wrote to me. I had no idea how they felt. I took this time to get to know my kids.  I mean, really get to know them. To sit down with them and listen to them. I didn’t want to tell them what to do or yell at them, I wanted them to be a part of this journey with me. I first had to understand where their little minds were coming from.

So what did I do? It was simple. I talked to them. I asked them questions. I asked them if they were scared. I told them that it is ok to cry and that it’s ok to be scared because I was scared too. I didn’t lie to them.

Children have many different reactions when they learn that their parent has cancer. They can be angry, afraid, nervous, sad, happy and may show signs of guilt. Children can feel confused. In my situation, my kids were really confused. They were learning a new schedule going back and forth between their dad’s house and mine while processing the fact that their mom is really sick. I could only imagine this being a kid’s worst nightmare. The great news is that kids, like us, are resilient!

My kids had a hard time talking about their feelings. This is when I reached out for help. I was more worried about my kids and what they were feeling more than if I was going to die or not. Looking back, this was a good distraction for me. I didn’t focus too much on me, but rather being a good mom.  My local cancer center provided me and my kids a woman who was trained to work with kids in these kinds of situations. She asked them to draw their feelings. I was shocked at what I saw.

My son Griffin just took his black crayon and scribbled as hard as he could on the paper. I asked him what was wrong and he said, “NOTHING.”

He was angry, very angry. He didn’t know how to express his feelings. He often took his anger out on me. One time he actually chased me around the house with a broom stick and hit me. That was my breaking point. Griffin is a different child now. We both laugh at that story when I tell him. We both have grown so much through this cancer journey together. I am so grateful for this.

Here is another story. It was so funny and I had to hold it together so that I didn’t crash my car after what I heard my nine year old daughter tell her friend. One day when I was driving my daughter around with her girlfriend, I smiled and said, “Thank you,” when her sweet friend Harper said that she loved my new haircut. Ha, I had a shaved head, but she thought it was cool. I loved that little girl.

Next, I heard the girls talking in the back seat. My daughter told her friend that I didn’t have a haircut, but that I had cancer. They were whispering in the back trying to be quiet, but I could hear everything that they were saying. My daughter said to her friend, “My mom has stage 111C ovarian cancer and she is going to die.” I almost crashed the car. I wanted to stop the car right then and there and say, “No, No I am not going to die”,  but I didn’t because I didn’t know if that was true. I always reassured them their their mom was a fighter and she would never give up. Being positive and showing your kids that you believe that you will survive will help calm their nerves and anxieties.

It broke my heart to see the fear in my kids eyes.

Some days my kids didn’t want to talk to me. It made me so sad. They seemed mad at me. I wished their little hearts could see and feel the pain I was going through. That is when I decided to ask them to take some time and journal their thoughts with me. I was in therapy, A LOT of therapy and I saw how journaling was helping me. So, I thought what the heck, I’ll see if we can communicate through writing. It actually worked. I would ask them questions and they would answer on paper. I think they felt safer this way. They didn’t want to hurt my feelings. I made sure that I told them there are no wrong answers and that they can write their own story or blog, just like I was. They loved that idea. I sometimes gave them journal prompts to start with. That was really helpful for them.

This is a picture my twelve year old son Hayden drew. The prompt I used asked for him to color in his feelings.

You can see the feelings that were colored in the most were sad, fear, a lot of guilt, and nervousness along with with some happy hair! That makes me so happy to see that there was some happiness inside of him. Sometimes it felt like I was talking to a brick wall.

Macie drew a rainbow picture with the names of her guinea pigs. She put herself on top of the rainbow with the words, “I don’t know.”

All I wanted was for my kids to express their feelings without being afraid or ashamed.


I'll leave you with that happy rainbow picture for now. 

In Episode 2 of this series you'll get to see what my kids wrote. It was so eye opening for me and I think it will be for you too! 

What do you appreciate about the ones you love the most?

If you found inspiration to feel even more grateful about your life after reading this post, and know someone who could use a pick-me-up, please share this with them.

Hugs and Love,

Emilee 💕

Let's stay in touch.

I have a free and fun series of stretches you can do at your kitchen sink, that I know you would enjoy. Click the button below to sign up for my newsletter and get the first five stretches into your inbox ASAP!

Today, I CELEBRATE my life.

This day is more important to me than my birthday (it's actually my mom’s birthday too).

Today I was given a second chance at life.

This picture was taken just moments before I was taken back for surgery. I knew that I had one of the most skilled surgeons working on me and I trusted this woman with all my heart. She told me she would use her fingers like a knife.

It's a feel and cut process.

Cancer has a certain feel to it I learned. I put my faith in her and BELIEVED her when she said, “I won't stop cutting until all the cancer is gone.”

For those of you with ovarian cancer, you understand what I'm talking about. For those that don't understand ovarian cancer, it's nasty. There are microscopic cells that sometimes can't be seen in a scan just waiting to spread like wildfire.

Everyday when I wake up, I am GRATEFUL to be alive.

Today is my 2 year anniversary (or celebration of life). It's also the most critical time (2-5 years) that the cancer can recur! I try my best everyday to enjoy life, do something silly, laugh with my kids and challenge my brain with projects.

I am so blessed and grateful for all of the love and support I have received.

Thank you for allowing me into your life as you have watched me grow as a person. Overcoming my fears hasn't been easy, but with the help of your love and support I feel that I can BEAT anything that comes my way.

How do you celebrate your life each day?

If you found inspiration to celebrate your life even more after reading this post and know someone who could use a pick-me-up, please share this with them.

Hugs and Love,

Emilee 💕


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Let's stay in touch.

I have a free and fun series of stretches that you can do at your kitchen sink, that I know you would enjoy. Click the button below to sign up for my newsletter and get the first five stretches.

Review: Cancer Core Recovery Workout DVD

Read the full article here: Lindseylu8.blogpost.com

This DVD contains a 30 min core routine, a 15 min stretch routine, tutorials, and an introduction. You will need 2 small unweighted balls for the core work. Emilee works out with 2 backgrounders, all 3 are cancer survivors and all show various intensity levels.

Cancer Core Recovery: After a quick stretch, exercises include slow crunches with one ball under your lower back & one between your knees,  pelvic tucks, oblique crunches, single knee raise with the ball under your booty, single leg bicycle, single & double leg drops, frog press, ball inner thigh squeeze, bridge, and a quick stretch.

Cooling Stretch: Emilee works out alone for these stretch poses. Poses include childs pose, flowing side stretches, cat cow, wag the dog, puppy pose, down dog, gate hip stretch, kneeling butterfly, seated side stretch, and a hamstring stretch using a towel.

I rate this a solid intermediate routine- I expected it to be more beginner level, but was super pleasantly surprised. Emilee is a great instructor, very encouraging and provides great form pointers. I definitely felt the core work the next day and enjoyed the routine. The core work and stretches are designed to aid in your cancer recovery and to strengthen you along the way, but I found this to be a nice routine for anyone. Emilee uses slow & controlled exercises for a recovery pace. I received this DVD to review.

Reinventing Your Body

What if you could change one thing about your body? What would it be?

I will tell you what has bothered me all of my life...my scar. 

You might say, "It's just a scar," and you’re right. It's just a scar, but under that scar is pain. Not physical pain, but emotional pain that goes beyond cancer.

What if I told you that all it took to change that negative belief or thought was one simple thing? Would you believe me? I know it works because it has worked for me.

The problem is not the scar or the body image we don't like. The problem is our brain and our thought process. We are programmed to believe we have to look, feel or behave a certain way to fit into society.

What if you just started to love yourself for who you are and your body for what it is?

Deep breath. Yes. That feels much better.

Why do we compare ourselves to others and let others control how we feel?

I know I’m not alone in these feelings.

I am sure you have all heard that your body is controlled by your mind. It's true. We can choose ideas that limit our bodies or we can decide to liberate them to their fullest potential.

Even at my sickest, my body was alive and it looked to me for direction. This is where the choice came. Which direction do I want to take my body?

In order to build up the body that I wanted, I had to have more than just physical strength. I had to manifest the physical body through my thoughts and consciousness.

I am what I believe. If I think, “I am weak,” then I will be weak. If you think you are never going to get better and be strong again, then you manifest that. You are what you create. Mantras were a huge part of healing for me.

What is your struggle today? Maybe you say, “I hate my body or I hate my new scars.” Rather, try saying, “I am so grateful to be alive and my new body is going to teach me something.”

Try turning the negatives into positives. I get it, you may not like your body or scars but if you continue to think about the negative, you will never heal.

Just for today, try being aware of your thoughts. Don’t judge yourself or be too hard on yourself.

Change is just one step and one thought away.

Always remember that your physical body is just as important as your spiritual body or mind. This is often why you hear the advice to have a positive mindset. If you don't love your body, start to change your mindset.

Set the intention that you love yourself and love your body. You might just need some time to figure it out, but you will get there. Healing starts from the inside out.

If you are struggling with your body, try standing naked and take some time to look in the mirror. I know it's scary to see yourself naked and see all your scars; look at those scars and remind yourself every day that you are a warrior. You are a survivor and you are a gift. You are beautiful and loved.

If you don't feel loved, start to love yourself. Self love and self respect are the greatest forms of love in existence.

Your body has a bigger purpose than just its physical form.  

Think about your body in a new way. Think about your body with love, compassion, respect and understanding.

What message would you like to tell to your future body? What has your body taught you? Your message could teach your kids or other women who might go through the same issues.  

I want to teach my ten year old daughter that you should always love your body no matter what size or shape you are. And, you should never judge anyone by their body or scar or missing legs and body parts because you don't know their story or what they have been through.

Your scar or your imperfect body has taught you something.  

What has it taught you?

I reinvented my body during cancer recovery by doing really easy and fun exercises and stretches.

I have a free and fun series of stretches that you can do at your kitchen sink, that I know you would enjoy.

Just click here to get instant access to the first 5 stretches

If you found inspiration to love your body more after reading this post and know someone who could use a pick-me-up, please share this with them.

Hugs and Love,

Emilee 💕

BWW Fitness World Features Emilee

Emilee Garfield Launches New DVD, CANCER CORE RECOVERY

 
 

Emilee Garfield's motto is Empower Your Life! After battling cancer twice, Emilee believes that no matter how hard life can be, with the right support anyone can empower themselves to live a more joyful life. In her new DVD, Cancer Core Recovery (60 minutes, $19.95 www.cancercorerecovery.com) Emilee inspires, educates and motivates as she openly shares her journey and the struggles of battling recurring cancer. After dealing with a new ileostomy, incontinence and internal tissue damage from cancer surgeries and radiation, Emilee realized how much she wanted to help others in the same situation. Her Cancer Core Recovery workout activates the internal muscles deep inside the pelvis, which are difficult to feel and often overlooked. The exercises in her workout focus on small, deep movements to help retrain the body and the nervous system in order to slow down and activate the deepest muscles. In the DVD, Emilee, along with two other cancer survivors, guide viewers and demonstrate the safe, modified exercises to help participants gain confidence and strength to get back on their feet.

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