Talking to Your Children About Your Lung Cancer Diagnosis

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Lisa Goldman was not able to tell her children about her cancer diagnosis until after she had returned home from the hospital. She discusses the shock that still pervades their life. Tune in to learn more. 

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Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Tamara Lobban-Jones:

What kind of conversation did you have with your 10-year-old and your 12-year-old, then nine years old and 11 years old, about your diagnosis?  

Lisa Goldman:

We were all in shock. I'm still feeling the sort of reverberations of that.  It's like PTSD for our whole family I think.  It was just so out of left field. Even though I was coughing, I had still been teaching my fitness classes in December. And then less than a month later to be in ICU and on oxygen, I mean, it was surreal. 

We met with the social worker in the hospital, I think.  It's all hazy, but we got guidance from somebody in the hospital about how to have that conversation with the kids.  We didn't have it in the hospital, but when I got home we sat down with them and said, “Mommy has lung cancer, and the doctors are trying to help.” 

We had been counseled to be honest but not necessarily detailed, if that makes sense. 

Tamara Lobban-Jones:

Yes. 

Lisa Goldman:

So we didn't get into the specifics of how dire the diagnosis could be, the sort of predictions of how long I might live.  We didn't get into that, and I'm glad for that, because I don't think those are necessarily accurate anymore. 

Lisa Goldman:

But we were honest from the start.  We told them what I had and what was going on.  

Tamara Lobban-Jones:

Well, now you're in remission. A lot of patients are excited about that term, but then there [are] quite a few that are a little skeptical. What did that mean for you when you first heard that word?  

Lisa Goldman:

It's such a strange thing.  You think, “Oh, this is all that I want. I want to be in remission.”  But now that I'm supposed to be here, and I'm putting that in air quotes because it turns out that there is no specific agreed-upon definition.  One doctor's remission may not be another's, and I didn't appreciate that at the time.  So I in my head, prior to diagnosis I thought somebody in remission was in the clear, that they really didn't have to worry about this anymore.  I mean, they'd have to sort of keep tabs on it, but they weren't dealing with their disease on a daily basis. 

And now that I'm in what my doctor calls remission, I realize that at least for me that's not the case. 

I have to remain super vigilant.  I'm still taking my targeted drug twice a day. And if I didn't, it probably would just be a matter of days or weeks until I was back in the ICU.  I mean, my cancer, was obviously very fast moving and aggressive, so as soon as it's not held in check by something it goes downhill rather swiftly.  

I have to get the scans.  I go through that roller coaster of anxiety. Right now, I'm getting scans every two months.  And so it's very much in the forefront of my life and my mind all the time. 

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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Page last updated on January 19, 2016