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To the Mom Who Will Hear 'Your Child Has Cancer' Today

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Every day approximately 43 children in America will be diagnosed with cancer. This letter is for the 43 moms who will hear the words “your child has cancer” today.

Hi mama,

You are not prepared for the news you are about to receive. Nothing can prepare you… I wish I could.

You may have had a sinking suspicion that something is wrong with your child and today you will finally get your devastating answer, after weeks or months of pushing for it. You may be taking your child in for a routine checkup only to be slapped in the face with realization that something is going very wrong inside your child’s body and you had no idea. You may be having your child’s minor injury examined, a minor illness that has a simple cure, only to be bombarded by the words “your child has cancer.”

No matter the circumstances, no matter where you are or what you’re doing when you hear those words, they will absolutely rock you to your core. Nothing could ever prepare you for this. You are a mom and this is your child. You will do anything in your power to protect them. It is your job to keep them safe and happy. But in a few moments you will learn there is something inside your child’s body, something destructive and deadly and you cannot just reach in there and grab it out. You cannot sacrifice your body instead to host this cancer, as much as you wish you could.

I know mama, trust me you will cry. You will ugly cry and feel like your whole world has just physically collapsed around you, I know.

You need to process this news. But right after you process, you need to jump into action. You are about to learn more about cancer and treatments and everything in between than you ever knew there was to learn. And by learn, I mean drown in information and paperwork. You may have to make very fast-paced decisions — just try your hardest to make the best decisions for your child with the information you have. You are your child’s biggest advocate. You can do this.

Your child is about to take on the biggest battle of their life and you will be there right next to them, taking on as much of the fight as you possibly can.

In the upcoming days you will meet many new people who will help you through this. You will be surrounded by friends and family you never realized cared so much about you and your child. They do care and they will try their hardest to be there for you however they can. You will need it. You may want to resist the help in the beginning, not wanting to impose, because that’s just your nature. But you will learn that you cannot do this alone. You need your village now more than you ever have before. You may have to seek out your village, and that’s OK, too. Reach out, talk about what’s happening, people will listen and people will care. I promise you, mama.

I wish I could prepare you for these words… I want you to know that your entire life will be changed by these words. You will figure it out. It is going to be very hard, and I wish I could promise you that your child is going to survive this and come out unscathed. I can’t promise you that, but I can promise you that you will gain an intense appreciation of life and all of the “small things” that so many others take for granted every day… an appreciation you never knew existed within you. Hold on to it, and never forget to live in the moment. Take things one day at a time, one foot in front of the other. You are a great mom and you will continue to be a great mom even through the most trying circumstances.


A mom who heard the words “your child has cancer” 308 days ago.

Getty photo by MariaDubova

Originally published: August 13, 2019
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