The Lessons One Mom Learned Watching Her Daughter Fight Breast Cancer

Here’s what she wants other moms to know.

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It’s common to worry about seeing your parents or older relatives fight difficult health conditions like cancer, but parents don’t usually expect to see their own kids have to go through it. For Patricia Kasse, the mother of AnaOno founder and breast cancer survivor Dana Donofree, her daughter’s diagnosis was the start of an understandably painful journey.

“It’s just hard when you see your kid go through something like that,” says Kasse. “She was going to go through something I had no clue [about].”

A woman’s risk of breast cancer increases with age. Among U.S. women diagnosed with breast cancer, less than five percent are younger than 40 years old, according to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

For women in their twenties and thirties, being diagnosed with breast cancer can be especially shocking. And for their parents, the diagnosis might stir up feelings of outrage. “Don’t be afraid to be pissed,” says Kasse. “It ticked me off that she got this in her twenties.”

Navigating cancer treatment with a daughter is not something any parent prepares for, and there may not be any one “right” way to cope with it and support your daughter.

“There’s just no set manual that any mother could write,” says Kasse. “All you can do is just be there as much as you can [and] show your emotions.”

As tough as the journey was, Kasse found a message of hope as well: “Expect a storm, but then there’s always a calm. There’s a calm after the storm, too.”