Friday, July 25, 2014

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Talking to Kids About Cancer: Karen LaLonde's Story

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Rochester: Talking to Kids About Cancer: Karen LaLonde's Story
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Karen LaLonde's baseline mammogram was normal, but months later she discovered a lump and was diagnosed with Stage 2, Grade 3 breast cancer.

"And they told me it was just like, I could not believe it because 8 months ago I was there and there was nothing," said LaLonde.

She went from shock to what's next, and how do I tell my son?

"As soon as I said 'cancer', you could tell he did not know what to do. I waited until I had all the information before I said anything to him," LaLonde explained. "He was scared, he was very scared and I said well luckily it has not spread in me so if we can fight this together it should be okay."

Pluta Cancer Center social worker Judy Zeeman-Golden helps families deal with the diagnosis and what the course of treatment involves. She says there's dozens of books about cancer and kids can help you get started.

"I think it is important to always tell the truth and make sure the information children get is factual," Zeeman-Golden said. "And I think the developmental age of a child helps determine how much information is shared."

For LaLonde's son Jake, it was imagining his mom bald that scared him the most, so Karen and her friends found a way to make that process a little easier for everyone. They had a head shaving party.

"A neighbor of mine shaved her head and then my best friend's son Ben shaved his head and he is friend's with Jake too, so the three of us did it. Lots of tears and lots of laughs but it wasn't a scary moment and I think for Jake that made it a lot easier," shared LaLonde. "And now for Jake, he doesn't even blink twice. Wig, no wig, it is just mom."

Karen had a double mastectomy in July and once a week she's at Pluta Cancer Center for chemotherapy. She's one step closer to healthy.

"I just want to get through this so I can be the best mom to Jake."

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