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Moms with cancer: Making Mother's Day memories

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handprint smiling boy.JPGBy April Greene and Wendy Griffith, social work counselors

Mother's Day is a special day that we set aside to celebrate our mothers and honor the joys of motherhood. But for moms diagnosed with cancer, this day can be especially trying.

While you may feel grateful to spend this special day with your children and loved ones, you also may wonder how many more Mother's Days you have left.

Some moms even feel guilty on Mother's Day because it reminds them of the things they can no longer do for their family.

Rather than focusing on the difficult feelings, why not focus on celebrating the real meaning of Mother's Day by spending time with your family and making memories that you'll all cherish?

Making handprints: An easy way to make memories

Making a handprint with your loved ones is one great way to do this - even if you're experiencing mixed emotions and limitations from cancer or cancer treatment.

Handprints don't take much effort and are inexpensive to make. They also capture a moment in time, and loved ones can place their hand over the handprint and reminisce on the memories made creating it for years to come. A handprint project can be particularly helpful for moms who are fatigued or don't want to be photographed.

If you've lost your mom to cancer or are coping with your mom's current cancer diagnosis, there are several activities and projects you can do besides making a handprint to honor your mom or her memory. You could plant a tree, volunteer in her name, donate to a cause she was passionate about or start a new tradition like baking her favorite dessert or taking a special vacation.

Handprint instructions

There are a variety of keepsakes you can make with a handprint, and many ways to make them (i.e., with plaster, clay molding or just paper and paint). Below are instructions for making a handprint or footprint mold out of plaster/cement. For this activity you can buy a kit, or simply buy the supplies individually at your local craft store.

Supplies:
  • Plaster/cement
  • Water
  • Mold 
  • Knife (or other object with a straight edge)
  • Pencil or sharp stick
  • Paper towels
  • Embellishments
  • Paint
Instructions:
1. Choose a mold. Most kits provide a mold, or you can purchase one at your local craft or grocery store. Molds are generally disposable, so that they can be thrown away if ruined by the plaster/cement. (Aluminum pie plates work well.)

2. Wash hands/feet and remove all jewelry from the hand/foot being pressed.

3. Mix the plaster or cement per instructions on the container or kit.

4. Fill the mold with the mixture and smooth the edges with a knife (or object with straight edge).

5. Lower hand/foot slowly into the mold, hold still for 7 to 10 seconds, and slowly remove.

6. Wipe the hand/foot with paper towel as much as possible and then wash with soap and water.

7. Use the knife or your fingers to smooth out the mold. Sometimes a dab of water on the fingers can help smooth the surface without sticking.

8. Personalize the mold by adding a name or date with the pencil, using embellishments like glass beads, tiles, or stones, or with paint.

9. Allow the plaster/cement to dry per instructions. Once completely dry, gently flip the mold over to remove the hand/foot print.

10. If desired, you can further decorate the print with paint or other embellishments.

Once you've completed your hand- or footprint, there are several things you can do with it. You can use it as a garden stone, wall hanging or sitting decoration on a bookshelf. Just keep in mind that the prints may be fragile and can be damaged by weather.

Cherished memories
No matter what kind of project you do, remember that the final product will be incredibly meaningful and the memories created doing the project will be cherished by everyone involved for years to come.

If you need extra support or have questions about any of the projects mentioned, ask to speak to your social work counselor or call the main social work office at 713-792-6195.

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