Crafty Teen Hero Shows Kids Can Handle Breast Cancer

breast cancer ribbonThink the worst conversation you've had to have with your kid is the one about the birds and the bees? Count yourself lucky. Every year there are hundreds (thousands?) of parents who have to sit the kiddos down and break the news that someone close to them has cancer. Suddenly the sex talk seems like a breeze. It's no wonder so many parents hide this one from their kids.

But as the folks at the American Cancer Society (ACS) advise, "Cancer is an impossible secret to keep." And if you're tempted to keep it under wraps, maybe the story of Megan Swift will help you open up? The 13-year-old from Canada has a grandma who battled and beat breast cancer.


And it was knowing about her grandmother that inspired Swift to start her own business to battle the cause. The crafty kid uses beads and wire to make "Good Luck Spiders" -- which are just as the name describes -- and earrings, then sells them off. In the past three years -- since she was 10 -- the young teen has raised nearly $10,000 for an Ottawa breast health center. The money all goes to breast cancer treatment, education, equipment, and research. A bracelet spin-off of the line is also helping her pack away funds for college, and she now volunteers after high school to teach other kids to make the spiders so they can get in on the fun.

Now imagine if her parents had decided their kid was too fragile to find out the truth about grandma? We love to talk about how our kids will change the world some day, but kids like Megan Swift prove that some day can be now. It means shaking off our notion that kids can't handle tough truths and learning to share them in kid-appropriate ways.

As the ACS says, "How a child reacts to a cancer diagnosis often depends on how their parents or other close adults handle the crisis." Trying to pretend everything is alright, they say, doesn't help. It's OK to cry. It's OK to admit you don't know what will happen. And it's good to help your kids find ways to deal. You never know; your kid could be the next Megan Swift.

Have you had to have a cancer talk with your kids? How old were they when you felt they were old enough to handle this kind of discussion?


Image via SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget/Flickr

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