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Mum with terminal cancer


Suer
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Not had this in all my many yrs of experience . We have a mum with terminal cancer, her young child has another yr with us before going to school. He has already been with us a year. Mum was diagnosed with stomach cancer, 3 months ago it has now spread and they are not treating anymore.

Have any of you been in this situation? I have had grandparents, pets who have died but not a parent. Do not know what her prognosis is but any advice on what we can do to support the whole family, other than giving him, the family and mum happy memories, is there something else.

 

Also have to support my staff some of whom have got to know her fairly well over the last year.

 

Thank you

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LAs will usually have teams who support things like this, I think in our LA the attendance and behaviour team would provide advice. Do you have any contacts in the LA you can call upon?

 

Also it occurs to me that the Macmillan people would have loads of experience to draw upon and presumably if the parent's cancer is now end stage they would have some kind of family support in place which could be extended to include you??

 

http://www.macmillan.org.uk/GetInvolved/Schools/Informationandadvice/parentorsibling.aspx

 

http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Cancerinformation/Livingwithandaftercancer/Relationshipscommunication/Talkingtochildren/Differentagesstages.aspx

 

Cx

Edited by catma
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I have worked briefly with a 3 year old who went through this.

 

To be honest she was too young to understand a lot. We responded to her comments honestly, trying to be as relaxed as possible. She needed lots of extra cuddles.

 

Looking back now I would have made sure there were lots of photos of pick ups, drop offs and times when parents are invited in with mum for her to look back on because she doesn't really remember that time very well.

 

The hardest bit for us was when her dad came to pick her up to go and say goodbye to her mum. We knew that was the purpose of the visit but she didn't when she left and that hit all the staff very hard. I don't think I'll ever forget her cheery goodbye that day. Maybe that's a time for a group hug or an after work drink if you can.

 

Thinking forward to the funeral. You might decide to close for that day if it coincides with session times. Perhaps any staff who choose not to attend could offer a free creche for other parents who are attending so that they know their children are OK and can concentrate on saying goodbye to a friend and supporting her family.

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Oh and of course there I Winstons Wish who offer great advice on helping children in this position.

 

Also, if she is supported by a hospice, they may have someone who can come and work with the child (and their peers) in the setting. This has happened recently at our local school.

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Oh Sue, what a horrid position for you and the family.

I experienced this a long time ago, early in my teaching carer and still remember that child. The family had support and were very honest with her --I think someone came into school to talk to the HT but not sure now and I know mum and dad came to see me. I listened when she needed to talk and provided lots of cuddles---thank goodness we didnt always have to think twice about that!

Youve now had some more up to date experiences so hope all goes well for you, as well as this sort of situation can. Take care.

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We have had two children in the past year who have lost parents to cancer, one was Dad the other Mum. We found our local Macmillan nurse absolutely fantastic - she recommended books for the children and websites etc for us to look on. She also advised, as already stated on this thread, to be totally honest if the children ask questions - one of the main things she advised was to not say things such as "Mummy/Daddy has gone to sleep" or "is in the stars etc" as children of this age ~(one 2.5 and one 3) take things literally and may think that Mummy will wake up one day. We provided lots of cuddles if needed but quite honestly both children seemed to let it all go over their head and behaviour changed very little. Good luck - a very sad time.

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We have sadly also had experience of this - a mum with breast cancer which went v. briefly into remission only to come back with a vengeance and attack the lungs. Mum was very keen to do as much as possible in the time she had left (she has sadly passed away) and we did what we could whenever we could. We helped with things for the children's memory boxes (we had had both children the youngest still being with us) including making two canvas handprint pictures with the children's handprints, mum's handprints and dad's handprints. Mum also wanted to raise as much money as she could for Breakthrough Breast Cancer so we organised a big fund raiser at the setting to coincide with one being organised with friends and family and raised just under £3K. Mum very much wanted to do this as she found it empowering - she very much did not want to be a "victim". I think the key for us was acknowledging her cancer and her prognosis and not trying to hide away from what this meant to her and her family and "running" with her wishes - we also made sure she was welcomed at all times and she particularly loved coming to see and hold the chicks that we had hatching and we photographed (with her permission) loads and loads for memory boxes.

 

There is no denying that there is an impact on yourself and your staff team and this is something to bear in mind - we continue to make donations to Breakthrough in her memory and still have contact with the family.

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Sue - I've sent you a pm.........

 

Not really sure that I want to say too much on the 'open forum' - we have very recent experience in this area - all too sad.........

 

After speaking with the family it was decided that we would try as hard as we could to 'keep things as normal' as possible at pre-school - the thinking being that everything else had changed for this child but we had the chance to just be 'the same'......

 

This is clumsy of me - seem to have lost the ability to articulate......

 

Sending love and hugs xxx

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lost one of our Mums to cancer 2 years ago (she had had it twice before) and another to liver failure. I currently have a Mum who has just started treatment for her brain tumour...the second time around (2 little ones 2 and 4 yrs) . ....so sadly this appears to be something far too many of us have experience of :(

Good advice given already...i tend to deal with things in a 'business' like manner and try not to get emotional in front of them. I offer any help i can...extra sessions, relief on bills, additional hours , added flexibility etc. Staff are asked not to discuss their illness with them unless the parent goes first. The most difficult thing we find is if the child is having issues (say salt for instance) then staff often feel they don't want to discuss this and burden th family with more problems

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...i tend to deal with things in a 'business' like manner and try not to get emotional in front of them. I offer any help i can...extra sessions, relief on bills, additional hours , added flexibility etc. Staff are asked not to discuss their illness with them unless the parent goes first. The most difficult thing we find is if the child is having issues (say salt for instance) then staff often feel they don't want to discuss this and burden th family with more problems

 

Finleysmaid - you have said what I was trying to say - so thank you for that - we have taken our 'lead' from family wishes........

 

Sadly I have worked with a few 'bereaved children' and each 'case' is quite individual.........right I'm going to go away and try to work out where I have left my brain today.......

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Sadly, we too have experienced this twice in the past 3 years - one mum through cancer and one mum to death in a road accident, which was a horrendous shock for staff and the other families (it was during the day when her children were in school / nursery). You have to take your cues from the family really, remember that school/ nursery is the safe place for the child and the one place where everything is the same for them. The dads were very different in how they coped so you just can't generalise.

 

Make sure you and your staff have time to support each other - its hard being strong in front of the children and having to support the other mums. Try and find someone who can support you as a team.

 

Big hugs.

Jo x

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I've had experience of this too but quite a long time ago. A mum had breast cancer and refused any treatment as she believed very strongly in alternative therapies. Sadly she passed away very quickly. Keeping routines normal is important I think as Sunnyday said, nursery can be the only constant in the child's world that has turned upside down.

So many people have offered such good advice that I haven't really anything else to add, but am sending virtual hugs.

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If it's possible to broach this with the family, ask them to do a video recording of the parent. Her voice will be one of the first things to be forgotten. Photos are great and I'd try to have loads of those, but her voice, a message for the child and her family would be a wonderful thing to have. I cannot remember my mum's voice really and that's painful.

I absolutely agree with not using phrases like 'gone to sleep', since a young child may well imagine that they to, will go to sleep and not wake up............much better to use correct words

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We had a little girl start while her Mum was in a hospice. I think she was with us for about three weeks and then Mum died. But during those weeks I made sure that some photos were available to be taken to Mum to show her how settled the little girl was. Mum knew us and the setting well as a son had already been through. Some friends of hers asked for permission to take some film of the child in the setting, but sadly she died before this could happen.

Afterwards the little girl got as many hugs as she wanted and we were very honest with her. She would say "my mummys dead" nearly every day and we would say "yes she is and that is very sad but you have lots of people who love you" We also found out information from Winstons wish but the Dad was not interested in this at all.

So sad that so many people who have such young families are affected by this awful disease.

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We have been fortunate to have had some Bereavement training but since Kent have cut their budget, this has been one of the first things to suffer. :( Maddening as clearly it is something that affects us all in our settings.

www.holdingonlettinggo.org.uk/‎ is a local kent charity you may find helpful. Also www.slideaway.org/ which is specifically for children.

We used to have a bereavement support contact who ran all the training and covered all the settings and schools in Kent. If anyone needed her advice she was always at the end of the phone and willing to come in to support individual children if required or even staff. Im sure lots of Kent members remember her! Unbelieveable Kent thought her services werent needed anymore.

On a practical note, as others have said, I remember her clearly saying, make sure you look after yourselves! It has a huge impact on the staff so keep talking and use the charities as much as you can.

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thank you so much for your support and words of wisdom, Sunnyday have not looked at message yet but will go on later today.

 

will look at all posts later when at home at work now and thinking that i really should finish setting up :)

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