Monday, August 22, 2011

How to Tell Your Kids You Have Cancer

In my home, it should have happened a week ago, not this morning at breakfast. My son is brilliant. My daughter is observant. I should have known that they listen intensly. I should have known they were more aware then I gave them credit for. I should have known they were my babies, came from me, and needed all the details sooner than later, so they could ask questions, deal, and move on.

here's how it went....

( eating breakfast together and talking about our day ( bri had already left for work).

Me: Mara is going with me to the doctor today after school
Al: Why the doctor? For your owie?
Me: Yup
Mar: Does your owie hurt you?
Me: It does. Its sick inside.
Al: With Cancer?

(my heart stopped. I froze. My heart started beating and RACING again)

Me: Why did you say cancer?
Al: Because you have been talking about it and crying about it.
Me: I have. You are right. I have cancer. Remember when I told you that I needed to have more surgery on my owie to get the sickness out?
Al: yeah?
Mar: Yeah and you are going to get stitches and wear a bandaid and have a bigger owie....
Me: That's right. Some people have cancer in their boobies or in their bones or in their lungs or other parts. I don't have that kind of cancer. I just have it in my chest. Right here.
Al: Are you going to die?

( What the fuck? Holy shit! What? Oh My God. Not my babies! Don't take their innocense. My eyes welled up. The lump in my throat was unbearable. Deep breath. Sigh)

Me: No Bubba! No NO! I'm not going to die. My cancer in only in my owie and they are going to take it out in the surgery. I WILL NOT DIE.
Al: Some people die from cancer.
Me: They do. I won't. Do you understand that?
Al: I do.

And it was over as fast as it began. He finished his food and talked about Star Wars. A normal moment again after a surreal one.

I called Brian immediately and told him everything word for word. It wasn't how I envisioned it but it was natural. It happened. Its over. We can talk about it.

My son, my super sensative son brought it up on the way to school...

Al: Does my owie have cancer?
Me: Nope, just mine. Not yours or anyone elses we know
Al: Daddy's friend, Anita had cancer and she died.
Me: she did. But her cancer was all over her body. Mine is not. Remember?
Al: Yup!

Again it was over.

We'll have many more conversations as the days go on, I assume. I'm not ready but I'm so grateful for his honestly and who he is.


Alicia said...

And he is who he is because of you and Brian and your love. Wonderful and amazing. Love you.

Liz said...

It is amazing what children hear and how they deal with it. :0) My mother has always said children are very resilient and she is right. It was great getting to see you guys today.