Spring is Here!


Where Did Mommy's Flip-Flops Go?

both of us
To Tell or Not to Tell
It Takes a Village


The snow has melted, the windows are open and our favorite ice cream joint is open...I love this time of year! As we change over from snowpants to shorts, I look forward to more time outside with my family. This is the first spring since 2005 that I have felt healthy and able to enjoy the season, & we have some fun activities on the calendar. This spring in particular is extra special for us with the release of my new book, Where Did Mommy's Superpowers Go? In addition to sharing upcoming events, I hope this newsletter can be a source of information & resources for any family balancing child-rearing while simultaneously battling a serious illness. This is a challenge I know only too well, but I know there are so many more "super-parents" out there facing the same issues with stories to tell. I'd love to hear them!


Happy Spring!


talk on lapTo Tell or Not to Tell
When I was first diagnosed with amyloidosis, my son Jason was only four years-old.  In fact, the day I got the news I had to rush from the doctor's office to go pick him up from preschool.  I knew I would need to be treated with high-dose chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, which of course would result in obvious changes in my physical appearance and abilities.  But I struggled with how I would break the news to Jason that I would need to leave home for 4-8 weeks and live near Boston Medical Center.  I wasn't sure whether I wanted to tell him the truth about what was going on, since he was so young.  I didn't want to scare him or cause him to be overly worried about me.  But I also didn't want to make up a story and "lie" to him about where I was going or what was happening--what if he found out later that I had been dishonest?  Would he lose trust in me?  Ultimately, I decided on a middle ground:  I made up a story to tell him the truth.  The first parenting principle that popped in my head was "It's not what you say; it's how you say it."  When Jason took his first few falls, as long as I knew he wasn't seriously hurt, I would smile and exclaim, "Uh-oh!" in a silly way.  This kept Jason from feeling panicked and helped him realize that he'd had just a minor bump.  A second expression came to me as well:  "Kids do what you do, not what you say."  How many of us have screamed to our children, "Stop screaming!"  Or how about urging them to make healthy snack choices when in fact they see us stuffing down leftover chicken nuggets over the sink?  I knew I had to tell Jason the facts in a simple way that he could understand, but if I showed him that I was not frightened and only expected the best possible outcome, then he would feel the same.  When I finally sat down with him, I engaged his interest with some silly sketches to illustrate what was happening to me (remember that page in the book, folks??).  At four years-old, he was able to understood the basics of what was making me sick, and how the doctor would make me better.  We got through the 2-year experience with minimal fear and worry, and now at eight years old, I am always amazed at the empathy and kindness Jason exhibits whenever he encounters ill or disabled people. 
For more about the strategies I used to explain my illness, treatment and recovery to Jason, please come to the talk I'm giving at the JCC Acton on Tuesday, April 26 at 7:30 pm.
the quiltIt Takes a Village

I couldn't have gotten through this experience as smoothly as I did without my incredible family, amazing friends, and a few terrific websites.  In addition to preparing myself to leave home, relocate to Boston and undergo an intense and aggressive treatment, I also had to make sure things were in order for Jason.  With the help of my friends and family, I made sure regular playdates and transportation were arranged, and a few meals each week would arrive to make things easier.  Here are a few indispensable resources for any family embarking on this journey:
www.carecalendar.org: designate a close friend or relative to coordinate meals, errands, transportation...whatever you need.  This website is super easy, user-friendly, and eliminates cumbersome emails back and forth.
http://www.drmiller.com: I used several of Dr. Miller's guided imagery CD's regularly to relax and decompress before stressful medical procedures, which I believe enhanced my healing.  His soothing voice is addicting and set to the backdrop of Steven Halpern's "spa-like" music which has subliminal messages encouraging your body to heal from the inside out.
www.starbucks.com:  Hey, listen, even bone marrow transplant patients need their java fix!  And trust me people, the hospital coffee just ain't cutting it.  There were times when the only thing that would make me smile was an amazing, award-winning cup of coffee.  Buy and reload your card before you start treatment!



Come visit me at Global Fitness Center in Stow on Saturday, April 23 from 9-12.  If you'd like to work out, you can try out the club as a guest for a small fee (just don't forget your photo ID--they're pretty strict about that!)


Our Price: $ 14.95 

List Price: $ 16.95 



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I hope you enjoyed this newsletter!  I'd like to include a Q&A section here, so feel free to send in any questions you might have.  Here's one that I was asked on many occasions:
Q: How did you decide on the "right" time to tell Jason about your illness and treatment?
A: To be honest, I didn't know when I would tell him; I just hoped the opportunity would present itself!  But I knew I did not want to tell him too early, which I feared would be distracting and worrisome to him if he had too long to think about it.  Before I explained the situation to Jason, I started promoting his independence.  He was already toilet-trained, so I started teaching him to get dressed on his own, clean up his toys, clear his spot on the table, etc.  One day, when he asked me, "Mommy, how'd my boo-boo go away?" it just seemed like an opportune moment.
If you'd like to share a story or question in my next newsletter, please email me at jen@gershmanfamily.com

Jenifer Gershman
Where Did Mommy's Superpowers Go?
amyloid ribbon
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