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Cancer Pract. 1996 Mar-Apr;4(2):96-104.

Children's experiences with mothers' early breast cancer.

Abstract

This article describes children's experiences with mothers' early stage breast cancer, a neglected area of study. Of 55 families from a larger study, 12 families had children between the ages of 2 and 21 years living at home. Family interviews, including the children when possible, at diagnosis and four additional times over the first year, were transcribed and content-analyzed. Two major themes emerged: awareness (entailing the child's cognitive awareness and emotional/behavioral response) and dependence. The child's developmental level influenced his or her understanding and the nature of the demands on the child and family. Because of the dependency needs of preschoolers, a chief concern for their parents was child care. Parents thought preschoolers were too young to understand so they gave simple explanations. Minor behavior problems were noted. More information was shared with school-aged children who believed their mother's situation was serious. Although children's concerns decreased, they remained evident months later. Effects of stress were noted. Home and caregiving demands usually increased and often interrupted adolescent's moves to independence and created role confusion and increased tension. Implications for parents and health professionals about interacting with children are suggested.

PMID:
8715447
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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