Raising Kids while Diagnosed with Cancer
An Interview with Araceli & Alessandro
Chia first met Alessandro at a Chia Silver Lining Kendra Scott event for breast cancer. He was on his bike that day and told Chia about how his mom is dealing cancer. Chia and Alessandro’s mom, Araceli, have been working together ever since.
Interview with Araceli and Alessandro
Interview Transcript Below
Chia: Thank you for being here today. I really want to talk about your journey, so take it from here because you're the expert.
Araceli: I'm really excited about the fact that I've been your spokesperson within the Chilean team. It's been amazing journey. Just a little bit about myself. I found out that I had breast cancer at 45, and I am a single mother so it was a little difficult.
Everyone Has an Expiration Date
I was a guest speaker at an event, and I said then that the hardest thing for me when you find out about having cancer is that you have an expiration date.
I think we. as humans, feel that we're going to live forever. I mean, we know that’s not true, but that's how you feel.
And I feel like when you get the news, you realize that you have an expiration date. So as a single mother, many things came into my mind: did I get everything ready for them? Have they taught them everything? Have I, you know, made sure their medical is okay, made sure they know who's going to take care of them if I pass away?
I did give them all the knowledge they need as young men so when they get older, they can take that information and pull from it. That was really it was important for me.
Chia: Well, you did a good job because Alesandro was certainly on the lookout for something to make you really happy. Tell us a little bit more about how this whole thing happened because at 45 years old, you've got to now address this.
Dealing with Emotions During Cancer
Araceli: So, Alessandro, I mean, what how do you feel like? How did you feel when you first found out? Remember when I sat down and I told you and your brother that I had cancer, what was the first thing that went through your head?
Alessandro: Well, I can definitely say that shock came to my mind, knowing that, “Yes, Mom, you are a young mother.” But what kid thinks that their mom's going to die before they even become a man or a woman or an adult. I guess that went through my mind.
Sure. I didn't cry.
I didn't really show that much emotion. But I believe you don't need to show emotion to have that feeling in your heart that this is happening.
Araceli: So what helped you through this? Did you talk to people or did you exercise? What did you do to help yourself?
Alessandro: Well, let's just say I started exercising a lot more. That's how I met this woman over here.
And it's been helping you out. I went to go get Chipotle because I was doing a lot of leg days, and I needed some food. And then I saw this organization for breast cancer.
I said, “You know what? I'm going to try it out, see what it's about.” I got all the information I could, and here you are.
Araceli: Awesome. And how do you think it's helped you like understanding this information and being a part of my journey.
You had said you were proud of me. So, explain to me, what were you proud of?
How Kids Deal with a Parent's Cancer
Alessandro: Let's just say you've put a lot of courage into what you've done. You've had the patience to go from struggling. You have the patience to move up to where you are now.
Araceli: That's awesome.
Chia: You’re surrounded by peers, because you're in high school, and there are others that are going through this same situation that don't talk about it like you do. What kind of advice would you give them?
Alessandro: Well, for me, I used to act like a hard ass, I always thought. I would say that talking about feelings was not for guys, not for men. And that's completely untrue.
When you let it out, it feels a lot better. What I can mostly say is, yes, talk, go talk to friends, hang out, go to the gym. But what I really, really want you to do is help the person that has the cancer, help the person that has that's going through this situation.
Chia: Compassion, I think, is one of the greatest things you learn as a family. It’s compassion for each other and for others.
And I'm going to take it a step even further, though, because I know that you have had to educate yourself as you go through this process. And you mentioned something really interesting about being healthy.
Do you want to tell us a little bit about that?
Alessandro: Well, I take health to an extreme. I'm in two sports: cross country and wrestling. And this wrestling journey has been quite a journey, even though I've only just started this week. As a wrestler, I'm going to suck at the start.
But I'm also going to give my best to everything. If you put health and nutrition into anything you do, the sky's the limit.
Chia: Absolutely. I think that's a great message that we want to also encourage. Everyone who is going through a debilitating illness must change their nutrition and their activity for the better because the impact of a diagnosis paralyzes you to the point you don’t exercise and eat right.
The more we circulate our blood and get outside, the healthier we will be. So I think that's an incredible message.
Is your family sharing in this journey together?
Running with Cancer
Araceli: Definitely. Like for myself, I think exercise is the biggest key. And people would look at me and say, “Wow, you're going through chemo, radiation, and you're still walking and you're still trying to run?”
And I did. Because the reality is, by not exercising, you can get tingling in your hands and your feet, and then you could possibly [get health issues].
I never wanted that for myself. I wanted to make sure that I continued. So, yes, exercising during chemo is difficult. I mean, there were days after chemotherapy where all I wanted to do was sleep or cry or do nothing.
But I had to really force myself to do it.
And it was interesting because I even had people say, “Wow, I don't even have cancer, and I don't even get up and work out and do as much as you do.” And I just felt like it was an internal desire to do better.
I think that has helped me through my first surgery. And the doctor even said that.
I had been exercising and was conscientious of what I was eating, making sure that what I was putting into my body was more nutritious, because I know that with preservatives and everything, you can't stay technically healthy.
Cancer: Focus on Health
Chia: Better decisions.
Araceli: Better decisions. Right. And that's kind of a lot what I did.
That's what I tell Alessandro and my other son. It's all about portion control. It's all about looking at labels. It's all about measuring and seeing what it is that I'm going to put into my body.
I always tell him that it's kind of like a bank, right? If you don't have the money, then you're not able to build that bank account.
Chia: The investment in your whole life and those around you. I always tell my girls to eat your strawberries, eat your blueberries. They go, “We know, mom. It's an antioxidant.”
Yeah. And I say, that is the lesson I want them to learn. So, if you're making better decisions.
As an aside, tell us about the rap that you have on you.
Araceli: This is organic cotton, which is again very important because what we wear absorbs into our skin.
That's what I love about Chia’s Silver Lining: You have done your research and looked at how products benefit people.
And I think it's really important that if you do have cancer to really look at what you're wearing, what you're eating, what you're smelling, what you're putting into your body, and your environment.
Chia: Well, thank you both for your time and words of love and compassion. I am blessed to have you both.
Thank you for everything.