[00:00:00] Adam Walker: From Susan G. Komen, this is Real Pink, a podcast exploring real stories, struggles, and triumphs related to breast cancer. We’re taking the conversation from the doctor’s office to your living room.
This is Real Talk, a new podcast series where we’re going to break down the stigmas and feelings of embarrassment and talk openly and honestly about just how difficult breast cancer can be. From diagnosis, to treatment, to living with metastatic breast cancer, to life after treatment ends.
Today I’m joined by two survivors who were married with children after learning they had breast cancer. They started thinking about how they’d share the news with their young children. What to say, what not to say, and how to explain what was happening to mom. Sheetal and Beverly, let’s get real about telling your children you have breast cancer. Welcome to the show.
[00:00:51] Sheetal Sheth: Thank you.
[00:00:51] Beverly Kruse: Hi, good morning.
[00:00:53] Adam Walker: Well, this is such an important conversation and, and I do wanna just tee this up by saying this isn’t as much of an interview or question answer. It’s a dialogue, a discussion. So let’s start the ball rolling. Sheetal, why don’t you start by sharing more about your diagnosis and what you went through in talking with your children about breast cancer, and then Beverly would love to know kinda what your experience was like as well.
[00:01:15] Sheetal Sheth: Yeah, sure. I was diagnosed, I found out on Christmas Eve of 2018, so we actually were with family at the time and so, and honestly, I did not expect that I had gotten a biopsy a few days ago, but before that, but did not expect to get that call. And so we were with family and I actually was not really in a place to wanna talk about it, but I was with family.
So you almost get like forced into this conversation that you can’t even process. Not with my kids yet, but with my extended family, my parents, sister, brother, that kind of thing. And the thing that struck me the most through the whole process of diagnoses, to surgery, to chemo, to treatment, to long term, everything is that most of the resources that I was found finding.
Most of the resources that I were finding were geared toward older people, people who were getting cancer, which the predominant majority are, were, let’s say, were in their older years, in their seventies, eighties, because I think for a very long time, cancer has always been seen as like an older person’s disease, but it’s, that’s changed quite a bit in the last 10 years.
Younger and younger people have been getting diagnosed more than you could, more than people even talk about at. And so for me, I needed resources. I had, I had a two and a four year old. And so the resources and the kind of stuff that was offered as support did not really help me. And so for me it was very much about kind of finding my own way through kind of all the other pieces of what I was navigating because I did not find there were many resources for, for a young mom diagnosed with a serious cancer.
[00:02:59] Beverly Kruse: Sheetal, you know what really strikes me about that and my, my diagnosis was at Christmas as well, but I different from you had an idea and was pretty confident that it was breast cancer when I went in for the biopsy. And so just hearing you share, you know, being with family but not expecting that, just, difference in that overwhelming impact of emotion and, and sort of that how you tell your kids when it’s the holidays, you know, really left an impression on me. You know, one of the things that you know, for us was different was, you know, I had been going in for high risk screenings. And I had just missed the cadence and so I was a little late in getting my breast mri.
I was actually gonna put it off cause they’re expensive. Even though I have health insurance coverage. Uh, but I had gone in and found a, a lump on, you know, one side and gone to talk to my surgeon and she said, You know, you really, you really need to get the breast. And you need to get it done before the end of the calendar year.
And so just the way schedules worked out, I actually didn’t get my appointment until, like the 21st of December. So I went in just figuring I was gonna have a regular high risk screening and got a call back. And so they got me in on the 23rd. And, you know, you kind of know when they wanna get you in like right away that maybe there’s something to be concerned about.
So when I left that appointment on the 23rd, they had done a biopsy and I had talked to the radiologist and he said, It’s, it’s highly suspicious. So, you know, you kind of know going into the holidays, but you’re just waiting for the call. And so I think for us it was like a bit of that wait in terms of the confirmation, and that happened through the Christmas holiday.
And then right in between Christmas and New Year, I got a call from the surgeon and she said, It’s cancer. So I think at that point, for me, it was really trying to figure out. Our children were nine and 12. You know, how, how are we gonna handle, the rest of the holiday? When are we gonna tell them, what are we gonna say?
You know, It, it was just, it was a lot trying to figure out how you, how to position this in a way that is, not gonna be horribly frightening for them at the age where they could understand, but also, You know, over promise something that I didn’t know whether, you know, Hey, I’m gonna be fine. You know, you just don’t know some of these things.
[00:05:29] Sheetal Sheth: Yeah. Beverly, did you, from just hearing what you said about a high risk screening. So you have it in your family. There’s some genetic component to this for you.
[00:05:38] Beverly Kruse: Well, we don’t have a genetic mutation, in our family, but my sister had been diagnosed at age 40, which it had been about three or four years since her diagnosis we’re about three years apart. And so, that’s why I was going in for high risk screenings.
[00:05:55] Sheetal Sheth: In terms of with your kids, did you then come up with a plan with your partner in terms of figuring out when and how? Like was it a, like a sit down and plan it out?
[00:06:04] Beverly Kruse: You know, we talked a little bit about, you know, in the beginning, and I’ll tell you, you know, I haven’t thought about this. Oddly, you know, my diagnosis was just 2021 just this last Christmas, and so I just hadn’t really thought much about this sheel until this opportunity for our conversation presented. So I feel like there are some, It’s just hard to recall. But, and probably a little defense mechanism. But I do know that my wife and I really thought about, all right, do we tell the kids in between Christmas and New Year, do we let them have a good new year?
How are we gonna tell them? And I don’t think we actually got a little resolve on the team approach. I think I was still processing. So what we did decide was we would wait until after New Years. Let them really just enjoy the full aspect of the holiday. And then, we would let the, we would talk to them like the, the SEC on the second or something.
Just give it a day, you know, So that’s how we kind of hit that conclusion. Sheila, I’m curious, did you wait before you told your family as well, or did you tell them on Christmas Eve?
[00:07:14] Sheetal Sheth: I didn’t tell my kids. I mean, my kids were a lot younger than Beverly’s, hers, or nine and I think you said 12.
[00:07:19] Beverly Kruse: Mm-hmm.
[00:07:20] Sheetal Sheth: So I think it’s a little bit different. My kids were two and four, so it’s a little bit different, in the sense of what they can understand. And so for me, I told my parents and like my siblings, but that was it. And it was really, I don’t know if Beverly, you had this experience, but because it happened over the holiday, I had a really hard time like getting people on the phone and medical professionals and doctors, and you get this call basically saying that it’s urgent and you need to go meet with a breast surgeon and do all these things, which I had no way of, like, I didn’t know how to navigate any of these things.
And then no one’s there, like there’s people subbing or there’s this, and I’m like, Oh my God, I could not get the person on the phone. And so I, it was, it was, it was a lot to kind of take in. And then once I had, I didn’t even meet with a breast surgeon until probably mid-January and then I got, I had a double mastectomy.
I had it at the end of January. So it moved very quickly once I had the appointments because it was aggressive. And so in that time is when then once I knew what we were doing and I knew the severity of it, and I knew what the treatment plan was, and I knew that my mom was probably gonna come and live with us for a while and help because with a double mastectomy, you know, you, carry your children and they can’t lay on you and there’s things that you just can’t do. And my kids were babies, so there was a lot that I needed to navigate, and so that is when my husband and I, ended up talking to our children. Once, once I knew more about what it was gonna be.
[00:08:46] Beverly Kruse: Yeah. You know, I think that, that period of time where you don’t have information and answers, and it’s the holidays, I think I felt, because I got the confirmation of my diagnosis, like right in between Christmas and New Year, I had talked to my surgeon who gave me enough of a path to know that, okay, you will then come in and we’re scheduling you for an appointment and we will, you know, so she had, I think, given me some of that. The part though that really I was at a loss for and really felt that it’s the holidays, where is everybody? Or just can I access anybody? Was when I was thinking about what resources are there for me to understand how to talk to our kids.
You know, I, I don’t know why, but I think I just felt like. I didn’t know where to start. Did, were there any mental health professionals in our, in our area that I could find out, you know, like how to approach this with them and then you realize that nobody that you’re gonna be able to call at Christmas and New Year.
I mean, they’re all gonna be off. And your opportunity to get in to see someone is gonna be like way down the road. It’s not like they quick have an appointment for you. And I think I just realized that I just didn’t have anything. You know, the one thing that I wish that I had thought of but didn’t avail myself to why I don’t know, is our helpline.
You know, I’ve worked for Komen for a long time, and I know we have trained social workers specific to cancer, and I could have called, but I didn’t. And maybe I was in shock and just felt stifled, but that’s where I felt like, where are the resources? And then I’m think. Oh, when our kids were in preschool, we had some great early childhood development, you know, professionals who really supported us through like being better parents.
Like is there anything I can remember from that period of time that would help me here? I was just fishing for all sorts of best practices, threads, just maybe some threads.
[00:10:53] Sheetal Sheth: It’s so interesting that you didn’t, that you didn’t call. Did you not think of it or did you feel like calling the helpline would make it really real?
[00:11:01] Beverly Kruse: I think probably a little bit of both. I think subconsciously, like doing that outreach and talking to someone to, might have just been like a little too much, a little too soon perhaps I wasn’t ready and yet I needed the information, so I, There could have been just a bit of paralysis there that you’re just kind of like you. You’re just trying to process it yourself and really kind of deal with it yourself.
[00:11:29] Sheetal Sheth: Yeah. I will say the thing that helped me actually the most was I had a lot of people kind of say the same thing, You should go to a support group, or you should do this, or all these things, and I wasn’t ready to kind of do that in person. But I did find an online support group that was like a private space, and it was specifically for young women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. And I joined it just like, okay, let’s see. And I found it to be such a solace of just community and information. And honestly, when I was going through treatment, if I could, if I, when I put up something that was happening, cause I had really bad reactions to the chemo and all kinds of things that were happening.
That they had answers that my doctor did not have. Like they were like, Okay, I know they’re gonna tell you to do this, but just do this. You know? Yeah. That will help. And it was like a wealth of information. It was almost like a mom group, but it was a breast cancer group. And just like people who knew, people who know.
People who know your deal and are like, Let me just cut to the chase and tell you what will really make a difference. And that was like a, a blessing for me.
[00:12:31] Beverly Kruse: I love, I I, I’m so glad you found that and had that. I wish I had done a little bit more of that myself. And I think if there’s like thoughts that I would say, you know, Gosh, what would you, what would you share with someone who’s thinking about how they talk to their kids about this?
I think I would absolutely. Don’t get in your own way of, of finding help for that. I, I could have probably done a little bit more, but didn’t, but I, Hey, listen, I’m not beating myself up about it either. I think we all, you know, just handle it the best way that we can. But yeah so, we.
[00:13:05] Sheetal Sheth: Know your own children, and I always, there is no one size fits all for all of this. You have to meet your children where they are and everyone’s different. And I, I mean, I’m a big believer in telling the truth to kids about everything.
[00:13:16] Beverly Kruse: Yes.
[00:13:17] Sheetal Sheth: When you have to find the words for that specific child at that specific age, and so I think.
[00:13:21] Beverly Kruse: That that is so true.
[00:13:23] Sheetal Sheth: Did you end up then finding the words that you felt were the best ones for them at the time?
[00:13:28] Beverly Kruse: I did. And I think exactly what you said is right. You know, I really assessed first understanding where our kids were. You know, I think different from you in sharing that your children are two, were two and four at the time. You know, I really had to think about what, what would my kids, what would our kids.
Be able to comprehend like how far are they on the comprehension scale? And we’ve also lived very transparently with our children and have never shied away from talking about hard things and tried to do it in a really healthy way. So I think there was that, and I knew that we had that going for us. So after we really kind of assessed, all right, where do we think they are, just in terms of scope and understanding about things like cancer.
And then, you know, the approach that we took. All right, We modeled that off of knowing what sort of transparency we had and and engagement we’d had in the past. But the other thing then was what do we know about each of our children and their personalities so that we can kind of anticipate what sorts of things to tell them?
You know, she know I saw in your, I didn’t, I haven’t gone and downloaded your book yet, the Making Happy book, and, but I did go and look at some of the pages and I’ll tell you one of the things that I think was just so, true for us too was being able to say things like, you know, you may have funny feelings inside that you don’t know what those feelings are when you feel like.
Let’s just say I feel funny. Let’s just talk about that. You feel funny because I don’t think our daughter. Would know what that feeling of anxiety is like specific to the situation. But she would know something wasn’t right. You know? I really appreciated that part of what you said. How did you do that with a two year old and a four year old.
[00:15:16] Sheetal Sheth: Well, it’s so interesting. So Beverly just brought up Making Happy, my book. And so, so I write children’s books and so for me, I love books to kind of start conversations. I think of them as icebreakers. I think of them as. For me, there’s no like better place than in someone who loves lap reading a book, talking about all the things.
Because I think, like I said, I really think you should talk to your kids about everything. And same like you, there’s nothing too hard that I think you can’t talk to your kids about and, and I want to be the one talking to them about it. And so when I was diagnosed, I went out looking. The books. And I was like, Where’s the book about someone getting sick?
Where’s the book about illness? Where’s the book about grief? Where grief? Where’s the book? About death? And they couldn’t find any. And then I reached it cuz I work in this industry. I reached out to my publisher friends and I said, Can you please recommend something? And they were resounding like, No, no, no, we don’t talk about that.
And I said, you don’t talk about mental health? You don’t talk about sickness? You don’t talk about things happening in families that everybody goes through? What are you talking about? Everyone was just like, Yeah, it’s too, it’s too much for kids. It’s too heavy. And I go, that is insane to me. Our kids are being shot down in their schools and we can talk about mental health.
I got so upset and I got enraged, which is why I wrote the book, and I wrote the book that I wish I had. I mean, because I do do this. I was like, You know what? I wanna write this book that I feel like allows for children and parents and families to have whatever feelings they’re having. And I was kind of suffering.
Well intentioned, you’re gonna be fine. Be strong. Everything happens for a reason. All the non-helpful things that people say to you when you’re going through something, which made me insane, and I just needed to feel how I was feeling. And I think as adults, we don’t know how to help our kids sometimes, because I see what happens, and I know we can all relate to this.
You see a child who some people may say, oh, they’re having a fit. They’re having a tantrum. And I always say, they’re not giving you a hard time. They’re having a hard time. And so we, and if we go at it with that, it’s like, figure out what’s going on with them. Us telling them to just. Stop crying. Stop having that feeling is inadvertently telling them to suppress their feelings.
[00:17:27] Beverly Kruse: Yeah.
[00:17:28] Sheetal Sheth: Teaching them that they’re just gonna go away if you just pretend they go away. Yeah. And we see what happens with us. We see that we are not functioning human beings. This is not how things work. And so I really wanted a way to focus on mental health and give kids the permission to have whatever feelings they were having.
There’s no such thing as a bad feeling. And you’re gonna have ’em and then let’s just process it and talk about them. And so that book really came from that. And you know, children’s books take very long time to get made and bought and sold cuz of the illustrations. And so I wrote it almost three years ago.
[00:17:58] Beverly Kruse: Oh wow.
[00:17:58] Sheetal Sheth: But by the time I sold it and it got illustrated and so it just came out last month. In those last few years, obviously we’ve all gone through a lot together, and so the book has formed even more meaning, I mean, obviously it’s specific to my story. It’s about this little girl whose mom gets sick, and so anyone with cancer will see it because you’ll recognize those pieces of it, but broader, it’s very much about what do you do when you’re going through a hard time and it’s about making happy, finding that happy.
What does that mean to you and how do you sort through your feelings that you can get pockets of happiness no matter what?
[00:18:30] Beverly Kruse: Yeah. Yeah. I love it. I love that you took the opportunity to take it is such a hard experience. Yeah. But turn it into something that might make it easier for others. You know, I think that, you know, I recall when my sister was diagnosed and I was talking to her and she, she also would share with me, you know, how her children were doing through it and, you know, I never called her and even asked her, How did you tell your kids?
So I think sometimes those resources that are closest to you, are hard. It’s hard cuz you do have to accept it, but I think storytelling becomes something a little bit different. So I think having that in a way that you can share is so meaningful and valuable.
[00:19:16] Sheetal Sheth: It allows, I think what I’ve heard, like the, the, the best responses that I’ve been getting is that when you talk about it as if it’s somebody else, then the, then the child feels less self-conscious about sharing their feelings. Cause then it’s just about, Oh, I connect to that, or I feel that way. And then that’s the entry point into what’s going on with the family because it doesn’t feel like they’re on the spot, you know? And having to kind of. Share in a way that maybe feels a lot for them.
[00:19:39] Beverly Kruse: You know, what else, you just made me think about too was I recall, you know, during the time that we were being so lovingly supported by our, by the early childhood development center that our kids went to, I recall one of the things that they really talked about being that, you know, at the end of the day, you know, children need to feel safe in their environment.
And so I think that was, you’re kind of sharing that piece right there. I think there’s just an element of that, that in the thought process of how do you talk to your kids about something like this, you know, it was the balance of assuring them that they were safe. That you know, this environment of ours was still going to be a happy environment, a healthy environment for them.
And then trying to figure out how to say it in a way where, you know, you weren’t over promising an outcome that you weren’t sure of right. But just being real about it. So at the end of the day, we were able to say, you know, They knew that I worked for a breast cancer organization. I don’t know that they knew what that work entailed, but that was not foreign language to them.
I was able to share that, you know, that I had gone for an appointment and the doctor called and they had said that I had breast cancer, and there are treatments and there are things that we’re going to do and I’m going to do them. And. We should just expect, you know, the changes, right? There’ll be some changes and you know, things like that, that we could just say, this is the real part of it.
You are safe. This home is a safe space and we’re here to love each other through it. And I think, honestly, at the end of the day, that’s what we ended up doing. And they, you find stepped.
[00:21:33] Sheetal Sheth: I was gonna say, did you find, cuz it seems much more recent for you, obviously I, I was diagnosed at the end of 2018 and so I finished my active treatment about two years ago.
But it feels like you just finished it, right? In terms of…
[00:21:44] Beverly Kruse: Yes, I did.
[00:21:44] Sheetal Sheth: So do you feel like when you were going through the treatment and the changes that happened physically for yourself, was that hard for your kids to see?
[00:21:54] Beverly Kruse: You know, I’ll tell you, I am so proud of them. They never manifested any behaviors or drop in their, engagement at school.
Like I think the things that I would’ve thought would’ve been indicators that it would’ve been reactions to the different phases of my treatment or how hard it was. We did not see them. And, I do think that there was a caution there. While we were moving through that I realized that, you know, there was the potential that they were internalizing everything.
And so what I will say, Sheetal, is when I got to the end of radiation, which was just in August. I knew our daughter was a little more sensitive to the changes and she would, she would say no. Like when, when we were gonna shave my head. She didn’t wanna, she didn’t wanna feel it. She was always very loving when I had lost all my hair.
So it wasn’t like she was nervous to see me, but if I talked more openly about like going to get the treatments, I noticed she’d start to fidget a little bit more. And so I could tell she was internalizing. So what I did do at the end of, of, uh, my radiation treatments, I just realized that maybe there was a stigma to where I went for treatment and they just didn’t know or understand it.
So I took them with me to the cancer center. And, we did a tour and they got to see the infusion room and there were people actively getting infusion. And I got to say, Oh, that was the chair that I sat in and they saw all these wonderful nurses and they went into the radiation. The room where I would get radiation, the machine was off, so it was safe, but they got to see the machine and we got to, they got to raise it up and down.
And I think it just really demystified, you know, took all the mystique out of it. Yeah. And when we were done, she told me, our daughter and our son both, they were glad that they did it, but she told me, I’m glad I came. I just thought that you went to a place that was very cold and gray, and this is not like that.
It’s happy here. So I do think you have to kind of know that sometimes your kids are gonna internalize and you’re not gonna see. Their reactions per se. And so you have to make meaningful opportunities to stop and just ask and start talking so that you can observe is there anything different, what changes in them, when we talk.
But yeah, thanks for asking. How about your girls? Or I didn’t even ask boy or girl.
[00:24:30] Sheetal Sheth: I have, I have two girls. Yeah. You know, it’s interesting because they were so. I wasn’t sure how much they remembered. I do remember, I remember, I mean, my two year old doesn’t really have much memory of it. But my four year old, who’s now eight, she remembers me with no hair.
And I remember that she was a little bit like self. She, she would always say, I just don’t like how people look at you, Mommy. You know, that was what she would say. And I was like, Don’t worry about that. But I think it was, what was interesting is they really made. Confront my own, kind of just what I was dealing with, losing my hair, and I was having such a hard time with it.
And so I had a wig and I had scarfs and I was telling them it didn’t matter. But then they’re like, So then why are you wearing a wig? Like, so I really, and I was like, You’re right. You know, I’m, I’m, I, I had to kind of fake it until you make it type thing with my kids, because I wasn’t quite there yet.
But I, I wanted them to know that it didn’t matter. But what’s been really interesting now is with the book, is there, we, we’ve had a conversation and we continue to have conversations that we weren’t able to have them because they were so young now in a way that because they’re five and eight now.
That I think are really important. You know, I, it’s one of those things where like their mom got breast cancer when they were little. That is going to be their part of their story, but the way we frame that story is really up to us. And so I think having these conversations and them seeing themselves in the book and seeing what happened to mommy and all of these things, and me telling them has made them kinder, more empathetic, more loving, more.
All of the things you want your kids to be because it happened to someone they love so much. And so we have so many friends that have been going through different types of illnesses and they are the sweetest, most thoughtful about what to do. Or, Mom, maybe we should do this or maybe we should drop off this.
And it just makes me tear up because those are the kids I want. And so I think that this is a blessing in the way that they look at the world. I’m really happy that we’re talking about it because I think it just allows for them to. Better people, to be honest.
[00:26:36] Beverly Kruse: Yeah. That’s beautiful. I, I, I think that’s beautiful. You know, one of the things that, my wife was such an amazing, like, primary support caregiver in, in the family unit. But one of the things that are, a really, you know, close friend of hers told her was, don’t under underestimate the opportunity to use this as a time for your children to be part of the solution and the support.
And I think by doing that and by her really empowering them to take a role in being there for the family, I think that probably was another way that they were able to process and channel you know, going through this journey and seeing me go through it and, and really helping them feel like, Oh, I can do something about that.
I can, I can bring mom the electric blanket as she’s, you know, curled up in fetal position on the floor. You know, and I really, I have seen a big change in our children too. Sheetal, you’re right, uh, they are more confident. I do feel like they are more empathetic and I feel like. I feel like they’re stronger, emotionally and mentally because of that. Yeah.
[00:27:56] Adam Walker: I’m, I’m curious, looking back on this experience, like is there anything that you learned in about yourself or your family and telling your kids this?
[00:28:09] Sheetal Sheth: I mean, I think it’s an ever going. Yeah. I think we’re learning every day. I mean, it’s, it just like when you become a mom, it’s like on the job training when you get cancer, at least for me, it’s like you just figure it out day by day. I don’t think there is kind of a thing that you can go to that is like, okay, this, this, and this.
But I will say, The things that helped me the most was in my support group. There was a woman when I was trying to make decisions about different things, she gave me great advice and just saying, you just have to go to what will bring you the most peace. Because there’s so much that is uncertain and there’s so much that there is no guarantee about that.
Like what there, when you’re deciding when there’s no good answer or no right answer, which is a thing that will give you more, the most peace. And for me, as somebody. Is a thinker and is a churner and will overthink and overthink and overthink, you know, And that in itself is not good for you. I needed to just make decisions that I was like, this, this isn’t gonna make me crazy, so I’ll just do this.
That kind of thing. So that, and also, you know, I always joke cuz I write, but I always wanted to like write a handbook of like, what not to say to people when they’re going through a hard time. And it’s well intentioned, but the like, how are you, you know, you. Really and people don’t, and I realize people don’t know what to say.
People don’t, they wanna help and they, but I, what I have learned is like I just have to be specific about what I need and not be afraid to say that. Or I just had my husband be like, You handle it. I’m not responding to people. And, and him just saying like, Sheila may not respond, She may, she may or she may not.
And don’t take it personally and this is what we need and just be really clear about that. You know, and people are happy to, to do it. I think people want that guidance and I think we just have to be comfortable asking because otherwise you get into that where you’re like, Oh my God, it’s just gonna make everybody, awkward.
[00:29:53] Beverly Kruse: No, I, I so agree. As a matter of fact, one of the things that I was gonna say that first came to mind was I learned that I was not comfortable asking for help. I’ve learned that about myself, and that people want to help. And that even, even your family and even your kids can help. Yeah. And so I think I learned that in this experience, that don’t be afraid.
Especially, as I had mentioned in the beginning, don’t be afraid to reach out and call a helpline. Don’t be afraid to, look for, you know, like you did, you found a great Facebook group. Don’t be afraid to, you know, find the phone number and at least call the person that might be able to provide you some mental health support cuz you just don’t know.
And it, and it is there. So I’ve learned that about myself, that I clearly had a problem. Accepting help or realizing I needed help. And I’m, and I’m grateful that people in our community and our family, they, they did just say, Hey, we’re gonna do this for you. And that, that was everything. Sometimes you just don’t even know what you need.
So I think, I learned that and I also learned that our kids are resilient. I think children are more resilient than you give them credit for. I think we often don’t give them enough opportunities to show us how strong they are. And I think when faced with adversity, if you approach it together, I think they will learn from that and see your strength in saying we can explore this together.
All is, we don’t know what the feelings are. We don’t have to know all the feelings. Let’s just commit to talking about it. So I learned that our kids are more resilient than we think.
[00:31:45] Sheetal Sheth: And they wanna be a part of it. They wanna feel like, like you said, that they’re part of the solution. That they’re doing something, Yeah. That they’re able to help. Like the helplessness, I think yes. Is the worst. I mean, we know that like when, when someone that we care about, we wanna help, we wanna, You can’t fix, but you can help. And I think that’s the thing that, especially for our kids and family, they wanna feel like that they’ve made a difference and they can. And so we have to let them do that.
[00:32:09] Beverly Kruse: Yeah, for sure. I agree.
[00:32:12] Adam Walker: So this has been amazing. Both of your stories and approaches to sharing your diagnosis with your kids is, inspiring. Do you have any final thoughts for, for how to, how to approach kids, how to share with family for our listeners?
[00:32:31] Sheetal Sheth: Well, I have a question and then we, if we can get, I said a question.
[00:32:34] Adam Walker: Okay. Even better.
[00:32:36] Sheetal Sheth: Just because I’m, this is what I’m struggling with and I’d love to hear what you, how you handle it is, You know, for me, I feel like the hardest part of it now, and it’s always been, is the survivorship of it. And I’m, I have not made peace with that, and I’m trying to figure out for myself, because then, because my kids have so many questions and I’m very honest with ’em, like, I don’t know.
I don’t know. I don’t know. But we’ll figure it out together. I’m just curious what your take on that is in the terms of like, and I know it’s more recent for you, but in terms of like moving forward and living with it and this idea of survivorship and how that feels for your family and for yourself.
[00:33:13] Beverly Kruse: Yeah, that’s a great question. I feel like my recency, uh, probably. I’m just getting to that part of the journey where I’m transitioning out of this, active treatment and hitting that path of just like that maintenance piece. I, I will say that right now I feel like I’m taking it one day at a time.
And I say that because, every day something new happens, like for instance, You know, when Adam said, you know, two survivors here, you know, the fact that that’s me now, you know, I think every day I just take each day and, and realize that that’s a day that I’ll be further away from where I was.
And, you know, I think just getting back to the business of living, It creates a beautiful distraction for me so that I’m not constantly thinking about, you know, Wow, is this, you know, rib discomfort that I’m having? Is this post-radiation still? Or do I need to worry about this? You know, I think that fear that lives in the back of your mind.
I don’t know the answer, Sheetal. I feel like I’m still so new in that my plan right now is take it a day at a time. You know, focus on the joy that you can choose in living. And then, you know, I have always been told by people, look, think there are things that are out of your control and you just can’t control them.
So what you can do though is you can just focus on what you know and make choices, to try to be as peaceful as possible and, Hope that when I turn around and look back, I’ll be five years down the road and I’ll have gotten there. But you know what, I will say, I will definitely plan to reach out to the helpline when I start to freak out now, because I, why was the matter with me? Why didn’t I do that?
So how, I mean, how about you? Do you, I mean, you said you struggled a little bit with that, but are you finding that there’s any particular approach you’re taking, leaning in on others for strength?
[00:35:35] Sheetal Sheth: I mean, I think just talking to other women who are in different stages of it is really helpful for me. Yeah. There’s definitely, I mean, the one day at a time is absolutely like all you can do, and I think at the end of the day, like when I’m don’t have the answer, I’m like, Okay, just one day at a time. I’m not gonna have the world answers right now, because I don’t think there are any. Right. Right. And I think it’s gonna be different.
But I have a lot of people in my life, that are dealing with illness and so I find that that gives me comfort and there are things that I can talk about with them. That I can’t talk about with other people. And you know this because there’s just, you know, the kind of internal struggle and what the person, personal piece of this is something that, whether you’ve gone through it or not, if you’ve gone through it like that, that connection is different.
Yeah. So I just try to, so I think, yeah, finding that for yourself is, is key. Whether it be a helpline or a support group or just friends or whatever, having one or two people, I think that you can call or just be like, you know, I feel like this today, you know? is for me, the, the easiest way to kind of center myself, get some perspective mm-hmm and also, you know, then, then again take it into the next day.
[00:36:46] Beverly Kruse: Yeah, yeah. No, I love that. You know, Adam, you, you asked is there anything, you know, that we would share just in terms of just like final thoughts and, you know, I think Sheetal said it so well, which is just, you know, understand and know where your children.
And, and be honest and transparent, in a way that supports meeting them where they’re at. And I think that’s the best we can do. And, and then I do think, you know, try to understand what resources are out there and exist for your children from a mental health standpoint and for you, because I think we count, can’t discount that you.
They’re there and they should be reached out to, and, and we should take advantage of them as we have access to them. And those are the things that I think I’ve, I’ve really just processed. I don’t know what you would say Sheetal if you would add anything to that.
[00:37:43] Sheetal Sheth: No, I think I, I mean, I agree with all of that. It’s really, and I just to add is just that we’ve talked about this, but don’t be afraid of the truth. You know, coming from you is the most important thing that you can do for them. And I think that they’ll appreciate that because talking to them like a person is, I think all they want, really.
[00:38:03] Beverly Kruse: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:38:05] Adam Walker: Well, Sheetal, Beverly, your stories are, are really inspiring, encouraging, uh, your, your wisdom on talking to kids is, is really honestly just helpful to you, even me as a parent. So thank you for joining me on the show today for sharing your story and just for being open with us. Yeah.
[00:38:24] Beverly Kruse: Thanks for the opportu.
[00:38:26] Sheetal Sheth: Thank you so much.
[00:38:33] Adam Walker: Thanks for listening to Real Pink, a weekly podcast by Susan G Komen. For more episodes, visit RealPink.com. For more on breast cancer, visit Komen.org. Make sure to check out at Susan G Komen on social media. I’m your host, Adam, you can find me on Twitter @AJWalker or on my blog, AdamJWalker.com.