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Single Parenting MBC Series - Primary Caretaker

Danielle, a triple-negative metastatic breast cancer single parent talks about being a primary caretaker for her kids. Check out other articles in this series, Support, Metastatic Parenting, and Dating.

Advocate Danielle Illustration


How do I retain normalcy for the kids?

I usually don’t talk about cancer all that much once I am done with my treatment for the week. They know I go to the hospital, and I am tired afterward. Other than that, we do all the things that normal families do. The day before chemo, we do something super-fun. This week it was river tubing! That way I am absolved of guilt when the day or two that follows is reduced to Netflix and short neighborhood walks until my energy comes back up. We have learned to adapt to our new normal.

How to give them the childhood they deserve?

I am definitely a pretty easy-going mom since I live with cancer. I don’t fight my children on things other moms might. I try to have our home as harmonious as possible! I want us to have the best memories and experiences together possible. They understand they need to pitch in and help and realize my limitations some days. So I give them a break. I treat them to donuts and other things to show my appreciation for their patience and understanding. Cancer affects the whole family, and I think a lot of people get so caught up in that that they forget this. We have learned to go with the flow a lot more! Our house is a happy one, and my children are smart, sweet, and kind. So it’s a win!

Where do you find the strength?

We all possess a very strong survival instinct! Some of us just don’t tap into it. It is hard to reach deep within yourself and survive the day in and day out. But in time, as with most things, it becomes easier. And then, one day, it’s routine. It’s a part of your life. Once I stopped resisting it and started accepting it, my life became easier. I will never stop advocating for stage IV breast cancer and fighting for a cure in my lifetime, but I also learned to accept that this is my life. It may not be the one that I planned, but it is the one I have. I have a family, a home, a career, incredible friends. My life is full and very happy, which is more than a lot of people can say. I think finding gratitude in everyday things gives me the strength needed to live this life. Every day I wake up and can walk, eat, breathe, love, feel the sun on my face or the rain against my cheek, any day I can enjoy the simplicity of life, is a day I am grateful for. And that gives me the strength to do whatever it takes to have as many days like that as possible.

Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to share that on Friday, October 29, 2021, Danielle Thurston passed away. We know that Danielle’s voice and perspective continue to reach so many. She will be deeply missed.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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