12/07/2012 04:13 pm ET Updated Feb 06, 2013

Activities to Do With Children When a Parent Has Cancer

For the past few days, I've felt a little under the weather. It's funny (not in a "ha ha" kind of way) how sensitive I still am, how just feeling puny can take me back to my cancer days (daze?).

When I was diagnosed with cancer, my first thought wasn't about me. Rather (as is the case with most parents), I wondered how on earth I could be a good mom to my daughter who, at the time, was almost 5.

One of the first things I did was create an "energy bank." I spent most days in the horizontal position resting (to the best of my ability) in an effort to accumulate even the teeniest bit of energy that I could "spend" on our daughter when she came home from school.

On days that I was in the bottomless pit of chemo despair (there were a few too many of those!), my daughter and I curled up in my bed and watched what we called "Silver Lining Movies." We called them "Silver Lining Movies" because the silver lining of my being sick was that we could do something that we would not normally do: snuggle together and watch feel-good movies. We watched everything from Disney princesses to The Sound of Music to Annie. Some other things that we liked to do when I felt particularly rotten:

  • Reminisce (as much as a preschooler can!) over old photo albums.
  • Color. A lot.
  • Play game upon game of Go Fish and Chutes and Ladders.
  • Watch YouTube videos. With the attention span of a gnat, I especially appreciated how short they are! Have you seen "The Laughing Baby"? Oh, dear heavens. You may need some Depends to watch it, because after having seen it oh, I don't know, more than 100 times, I still laugh so hard!

On the days that I blessedly had more energy, we liked to take short walks either around our yard or (on a really great day!) at the beach. Picking flowers was always a highlight of those sweet little outings as well.

One of the most important things that I learned about parenting (in general), courtesy of my cancer diagnosis, is that doing more with children isn't necessarily better. Cozy, quiet, focused alone time means as much (if not more!) to a child than anything else.

As sick as I was (and there were days when I didn't think it was possible to be any sicker!), we managed to get through it. Today, at nearly 7, she is a healthy, happy and well-adjusted child, which is the greatest Silver Lining I ever could have hoped for!

To read more about Hollye's holistic and humorous journey over, around, above and below breast cancer, please visit her blog, The Silver Pen ( You may email her at or follow her on Twitter @hollyejacobs.

For more by Hollye Harrington Jacobs, click here.

For more on breast cancer, click here.