Navigating Homeschooling, Chronic Illness and Chemo

I often get asked how (and why!) I do what I do. I’m a homeschooling mom of two boys (ages 10 and 11). We chose to homeschool because our oldest son has chronic lung disease and often has a compromised immune system due to treatments. He also has many anaphylactic food allergies (milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts and seeds) and homeschooling just made sense. His anxiety at school was often high and he also missed a lot of school due to being hospitalized from respiratory illnesses.

On top of being a homeschooling mom whose primary goal is to educate and care for her children, I have a lot of illnesses as well. I have a spinal disease that is degenerative and causes me to need chemotherapy each week.

Having the kids home actually relieves my stress in some ways. I am not constantly worried about if my oldest son is behind in class due to weeks of absence. I don’t worry daily if he’s safe or being exposed to an allergen. I don’t wait and pace by the phone all day expecting a call from the school nurse.

Homeschooling through chronic illness requires balance and strategic planning. I have chemo on Friday so that I have the weekend to deal with illness and side effects in order to be ready for the school week on Monday. We finish our school work in a few hours each day and I don’t have to pull my son out of class when he needs to go to the doctor. I can more freely schedule appointments for him knowing he isn’t falling behind or missing out on something at school.

I find this lifestyle can be stressful in other ways, such as the fact that I don’t have an education degree; rather, mine is in psychology. I have realized that school and learning are so individualized, though, that I feel teaching both of my boys at home is more personal and relates more to their individual preferences.

Is it tiring? Sure. Am I exhausted? Yes! But, I’ve also found that my depression and anxiety are somewhat alleviated and I find that I’m a lot more motivated now than I used to be. I don’t know how long I’ll teach my boys this way or how long I’ll feel like I can keep up with the fast paced routine we have, but I know that right now it’s what is right for us. I love seeing them grow and learn every day and we are enjoying our time at home together.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo by Vstock LLC

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Chronic Illness

sparkly gold star with text 19 little victories people with chronic illnesses celebrate

19 'Little Victories' People With Chronic Illnesses Celebrate

When you’re coping with a life-altering illness, sometimes the little things take on more meaning and significance. Taking a shower, meeting a friend for coffee, or getting through a difficult doctor’s appointment can all be proud accomplishments when you’re also dealing with the pain, fatigue and stress of your illness — and they all deserve applause [...]
girl standing under large tree

The Hidden Illness Most People Won't See in This Photo

I look like a well balanced 18-year-old on vacation. My dad took this picture of my on our recent trip to New Orleans. There are many things that must happen before I am ready to present myself to the world. My backpack hold my drain bag of urine, and a tube runs from my belly [...]
Woman at sunset looking out window

The Simple, Powerful Thing My Doctor Said When I Was Tired of Fighting

Emotional pain is like a summer storm. As you’re enjoying the warmth radiating from the sun, a dark cloud-covered sky arrives and indicates what’s about to come. Lightning strikes. Thunder claps. The earth shakes. And you scramble to find shelter to keep yourself safe. Pain often works the same way. It’s unpredictable, damaging, and springs [...]
Girl sitting in a bench

The Friendships That Changed When I Began Dealing With Illness

  The dictionary defines the word “relationship” as “The way in which two or more people or things are connected, or the state of being connected.” I, like many people in their mid-20s, have had a few groups of close friends, and some that naturally grew apart. My relationship with my friends began after starting [...]