By Ilene Winkler - March 24, 2011
The TV show Supernanny is my secret addiction. I love seeing Supernanny Jo Frost sweep in and fix dysfunctional families in an hour. But last week's show about Gary Evans and his three little boys trying to cope after the death of wife and mom Jennifer left me in tears, seeing six-year-old Michael hiding under his bed crying "to me, this is the end of the world."
Jo, whose own mother died of breast cancer when she was young, had some very helpful suggestions beyond her usual discipline techniques. After Michael told Jo, "I've lost all my memories about her," she encouraged Gary to help the children—and himself—grieve by doing more to keep Jennifer's spirit alive in the family. Gary made a DVD of photos for everyone to watch together so the boys could hear stories about their mom. Each child also got his own album of photos of him and mom to look at whenever he wanted.
My grandmother taught me that you live on in the memories of those who come after you. And I know from my own life that the pain of losing those you love is much worse if no one talks about them. Many women with young children, when they are diagnosed stage 4, start preparing memories for them—photo albums, videos, memory boxes, letters to be opened at a specific age. It's heartbreaking to think about. We must have better treatments and a cure so it won't be necessary. But meanwhile, we can't forget those we have lost and those we will lose until breast cancer itself is only a memory.
Ilene is Breast Cancer Program Director at SHARE and a breast cancer survivor and advocate.