In 1992 when our daughter was 38, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was utterly devastated. My daughter researched to find an emotional support system for mothers. There was none in the whole country! Rather than complain about it, we have co-founded such an organization. I kept saying that I felt it should be me; that the wrong generation was sick. I could deal with this better and, besides had spent most of my life. (I was then 64 years old.) She was only 38 when she lost the first breast, 40 with the second one, and beyond that had her life ahead of her. When I hear about the way that other mothers have reacted to their daughters' experiences with breast cancer, tears come to my eyes, recalling my responses to our daughter.
Those persons that I have known who have survived this "health thief," as I have named cancer, have been fighters. They take nothing lying down. I say HURRAH for them. This is not a game for shy people.
No one can understand what this situation is like unless she has been there. When Lillie was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was praying for a miracle. We were told that her chances to live were good, but I felt that only God is in full charge of our lives and I needed Him to make her well again.
I had a compulsion to pray to Saint Elizabeth Seton, the only saint that I was really familiar with. She also came from Maryland, our state. It gave me great comfort to plead with Mother Seton, asking her to restore Lillie to good health. Since Saint Elizabeth Seton had five children of her own, I knew that she would understand how I felt when my child's life was threatened. I understand how you as a mother feel and what you are going through now--having a daughter with breast cancer and wanting to have her well again.
For these reasons, we have tried to fill the need for a support system for the mothers of daughters who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. It is our hope that this guide that we have called a handbook will help you through these very difficult times and will assist you in facing the trials ahead.
When a mother calls me asking for help because her daughter has been diagnosed with breast cancer, my first bit of advice is this: Let the patient be in charge. Have her tell you and others what she needs. Otherwise, there will be a great deal of lost energy, but by having the patient in charge, everyone will benefit.
If, in your struggle to victory, you discover other hints that have been helpful to you and your family, please let us know so other items may be added as time goes on. This will make the bumpy road smoother for everyone who travels it.
Charmayne S. Dierker
(Mother of Lillie Dierker Shockney)