Name: Cheryl Howell
Children’s names and ages: Julia, Age 4 (Age 2.5 when I was diagnosed)
Location: Watertown, MA
Diagnosis: Endometrial and Ovarian Cancer
Treatments: Full Hysterectomy (Ovaries removed) + 6 rounds of Carboplatinum and Taxol
How did you tell the kids you had cancer? If you didn’t tell them, why not?
Cheryl Howell: I did not tell my daughter because she was too young to understand. She just thought I had a funny/bad haircut.
What’s the best thing someone did for you or your family to help during cancer?
CH: My girlfriend enrolled me in a wonderful program “Cleaning for a Reason.” A local cleaning company came to my house and cleaned it from top to bottom on multiple occasions! It was fantastic.
What’s the best thing someone said to you when you had cancer?
CH: I pulled off being bald nicely. It was genuine and made me laugh.
What piece of advice would you give a parent who was just diagnosed?
CH: Remember your children play off your actions. Be honest with any questions they have so they don’t feel like you’re hiding something. Also try to maintain your regular daily schedule – it will comfort them to see life is still going on and also may help you that feeling of “normalcy” and not think about your cancer for a little bit.
Wig, headscarf or bare-naked head?
What’s been the hardest part about having cancer/cancer treatments?
CH: After having a treatment, I would get excruciating bone/joint/muscle pain and it was hard not to be able to play or some days take care of my daughter without someone being there to help me.
What has helped your kids through this tough time?
CH: My family support. My mother, best friend and two of my sister in-laws would take my daughter out to various activities so she would be easily distracted and not realize I did not feel well.
What keeps you awake at night?
CH: I think about the cancer coming back and nervous about not being around to see my daughter grow up.
How do you feel when someone calls you an “inspiration”?
What’s your favorite place to go for emotional support on your darkest days?
CH:My support groups! I have met the most amazing and encouraging women. It’s great to be able to reach out and talk to other woman who have been through (and currently experiencing) what you have gone through. As much as my family and friends have been amazing, I do sometimes find it easier to talk to my groups about my “Cancer Issues.”
What else would you like parents with cancer to know about you and your experience?
CH: Do not let cancer control your life. You take control! There might be days that you will not feel good and it will be hard to get up. But push yourself to if possible. Do something at least once a day to pamper yourself.