My first Mother’s Day was not an idyllic family scene.   All I wanted was to escape the house and my newborn son’s incessant crying!  Over the next few years, and two daughters born soon after each other, Mother’s Day was all about a very messy breakfast-in-bed – and my husband trying to keep them quiet so I could nap!

And then our world turned upside down.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 37 when our kids were 2, 3 and 6.  For a year I had to let go of almost everything I had ever thought a ‘mom’ was about.  I was too sick to make meals, our house was a mess and I was gone to appointments all the time.  I also had to learn to ask for help.

Mother’s Day during treatment was a blur of emotion – mostly fear – for myself and for my children.

Luckily, I found Rethink Breast Cancer, a charity that works with younger women affected by breast cancer.  Through their workshops and support groups, I found other women dealing with similar emotions.  We were all trying to find our way through the fog of having breast cancer at such a young age as well as figure out how to help our kids cope.

Recently, with the help of a grant from Rethink Breast Cancer, I wrote a book for families dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis.  The Kids’ Guide to Mommy’s Breast Cancer helps explain the different treatments mom might face and the changes it brings to a family.   Hopefully it can take some of the unknowns out of the lives of other families facing this disease.

My Mother’s Day this year?  I’m sure a messy breakfast-in-bed will be involved.  But I hope I can sneak in a moment to reflect and be thankful for another Mother’s Day.  I also hope I can find it in me to let go of the ‘To Do’ list for a while and really spend time with my children – to marvel at their optimism, resilience, and enthusiasm for life.

And with any luck, a little bit will rub off on me too.

Karyn, Toronto

*A limited number of free copies of “The Kids’ Guide to Mommy’s Breast Cancer” are available for young women in treatment through Rethink Breast Cancer (  Additional copies are available through major on-line book sellers.*

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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