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Raising a Daughter While Living with Breast Cancer

Being a mother is tough enough, but navigating a breast cancer diagnosis while raising a daughter can feel overwhelming. The guilt and fears can be crippling, but with proper support and self-care, it's possible to thrive during this difficult time.Living with breast cancer while raising a daughter can be a difficult journey. As a survivor, I understand the fear of passing it down to her and the guilt that comes with it. Here's a look into my journey and how I am coping.

My Fear of Passing Breast Cancer Down

Genetic Testing

Worried about passing down the BRCA gene mutation responsible for my cancer, I sought genetic testing. While it turned out negative, the fear of passing it down to my daughter still lingers.

Risk Factors

I also worry about my daughter's risk of developing breast cancer in the future, as she shares other risk factors such as early onset menstruation and family history.

Sharing the Diagnosis

Be Honest and Direct

It's important to be truthful with your daughter about your diagnosis. Tell her what's happening in an age-appropriate way and give her a chance to ask questions.

Bring Her to Appointments

Letting your daughter sit in on appointments with you can help her better understand what's happening, and make her feel involved and secure.

Normalize Cancer Talk

Talking about cancer doesn't have to be taboo. Encourage open and honest communication and let your daughter know that it's okay to ask questions, express feelings, and acknowledge fears.

"It's important that my daughter understands the risks, but I don't want to scare her."

Genetics plays a role in breast cancer, so it's important to talk about this with your daughter. You can use this opportunity to empower her with knowledge and discuss ways to reduce risk.


Only 5-10% of breast cancers are caused by inherited gene mutations like BRCA1 and BRCA2.


Focus on healthy lifestyle factors that can reduce risks, like maintaining a healthy weight, getting enough exercise, and avoiding alcohol and tobacco.


Encourage your daughter to perform self-exams and schedule regular check-ups with her doctor.

Managing Guilt and Emotions

Acknowledge and Accept Your Feelings

Don't be hard on yourself for feeling guilty. Allow yourself to feel and express the emotions that come with a cancer diagnosis, whether that be anger, sadness, or fear.

Seek Professional Help

Consider seeing a therapist who specializes in working with cancer patients and their families. Therapy can be an important space for coping with strong emotions and managing difficult situations, like talking to your daughter.

Connect with Support Networks

Join support groups or online communities with other breast cancer patients. Connecting with others who have similar experiences can help you feel heard, understood, and cared for.

The Guilt I Feel

Feeling Like a Burden

I often feel guilty for putting a burden on my loved ones. I can't help but think that if I didn't have cancer, my daughter wouldn't have to face the possibility of it.

Mom Guilt

As a working mother, it's been difficult to balance cancer treatments and raising my daughter. I feel guilty for missing important moments and not being fully present at times.    

Challenges of Raising a Daughter While Fighting Breast Cancer

Making Time for Treatment

Constant treatments make it difficult to balance work and motherhood. I've had to learn how to prioritize self-care and ask for help when needed.

Emotional Distress

Living with cancer is emotionally draining. It's been difficult to be present for my daughter while dealing with my own feelings of fear and anxiety.

Encourage Open Communication

Make sure that your daughter knows that she can talk to you anytime, about anything. Create a safe space where she feels comfortable expressing her emotions and sharing her thoughts.

Find New Ways to Bond

Use this time to develop new or deeper family traditions. Find activities that you enjoy doing together and use them as an opportunity for connection.

Join a Support Group for Kids

Look for groups and organizations that offer support for kids with a parent or family member who has cancer. Encourage your daughter to participate in age-appropriate activities and events.

Taking Care of Yourself While Caring for Your Daughter

Accept Help from Others

Don't be afraid to ask for help from family or friends. Consider hiring a cleaning service, ordering groceries online, or finding other ways to ease the burden of everyday tasks.

Take Time for Yourself

Set aside some "me time" every day, whether that be going for a walk, reading a book, or practicing yoga. Recharge your batteries so that you can show up for your daughter when she needs you.

Stay Connected to Your Own Support Systems

Don't forget to lean on the people and communities that support you. This may include friends, family, support groups, or your own therapist or coach.

"I've learned to find the silver linings in life, no matter how small they may be. Spending quality time with my daughter and having open conversations about cancer has brought us closer together."

- Anonymous

  • Finding Support: Joining support groups and connecting with other survivors can provide a sense of community.
  • Self-Care: Taking time to focus on physical and mental well-being can reduce stress and improve overall health.

As a mother, I will always worry about my daughter's well-being. But I've learned that being present and showing her love and support is the best thing I can do.Living with breast cancer is a journey full of ups and downs. While the guilt and fear of passing it down remains, I've learned to find strength in my own survival and to cherish the moments with my family. Being a mother with breast cancer is hard, but it's not impossible. By prioritizing your own self-care and emotional health, you can be there for your daughter in powerful ways. Remember that there is no one right way to navigate cancer and parenting, but by seeking support, communicating openly, and showing up for each other, you can create a resilient and loving family.


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