"Don't spend time worrying about how you are going to die. Worry about how you are going to live today"

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Telling my little boy

I remember as soon as they told me I had breast cancer, one of the first things I said to my husband was "how are we going to tell our son?" as I sobbed.  I have thought about that everyday since getting diagnosed and I finally had to tell him today.  With my surgery coming up this week, we have to tell him something.  I think he knows that something is going on even though he is only four.  Kids are so much smarter and perceptive than we ever give them credit for. 

For the past week he has been crying a lot in his sleep and had a horrible day at school this week with lots of crying.  When his teacher told me about his day (which is completely unlike my son - he never cries) I knew I had to talk to his teacher.  I met with her and explained what was going on and told her we were going to tell him this weekend.  I left his school in tears feeling so sad that my illness could scare him or make him sad.  It just breaks my heart to think that because of me and my stupid breast cancer that my son will have to experience these things.  All I want to do is protect him and there is nothing I can do.  It makes me feel so helpless. 

I tried to set the stage for happy thoughts with my son earlier this week.  He has been asking to spend time at his cousin's house and wanted to go there for a sleepover.  He has never had a sleepover without us so I really didn't know if that would freak him out or not if we were not there.  So I explained that if he had a sleepover at Uncle John's house that Mommy and Daddy would be here at home and he would be there without us.  Then I told him he could talk to us on the phone though if he wanted and would that be OK.  He said it was fine.  So I told him we would arrange a sleepover soon.  All he talked about this week since then was wanting the sleepover.  So last night when he asked me again, I said "you want me to text Uncle John right now and see if we can do a sleepover next week?".  He said "YES"!  So I sent a text and of course got the response back saying the sleepover was on for Thursday and Friday.  My son was so excited he wanted to go there now.  I explained it would be next week.   He had no idea the sleepover would be during my surgery.

Today after lunch, my husband and I sat down with our son on the couch.  I pulled him up on my lap and put my arms around him tight and told him how much I loved him.  I then took a deep breath and started the talk.  I simply said "while you go to Uncle John's for your fun sleepover, Mommy has to go and get a boo boo fixed.  I am going to the hospital where they fix boo boos and the doctor is going to fix it."  He made a sad face and and said "I will be sad".  I asked "why will you be sad?".  He said with his quiet little voice "because it will probably hurt you".  I said "I will be fine and the doctor says we need to do this so I can stay healthy.  I will be home by the time you get home from your sleepover and will be resting.  When you get home I will have some special treats for you too!"  He immediately asked "what special treats?" with a smile.  I said "I can't tell you now or it won't be a surprise, silly!"  I also went on to tell him that "when you do come home,  I will be a little tired and sore for a few weeks so I would be able to run and play for a  little while.  I can read books with you, watch movies with you, play board games and maybe play a little Wii so we can still have lots of fun.  I am going to need you to help Daddy bring me snacks, something to drink and I want you to color me lots of pictures to look at."  I asked him if he had any questions and he said "can I bring my light sabers to my cousin's house?".  I laughed and said "sure, but I meant did you have any questions about my boo boo?".  He said "no" and then he wanted to watch a movie with me. 

I sat there in disbelief.  I was so worried he would ask a ton of questions or be scared. I know we didn't go into detail because I feel that sometimes we offer too much information and that is probably more scary for kids in the end.  I figured that if he wanted to know more, I would answer his questions honestly.  Right now we don't know if I will need chemo or anything else so I just focused on the surgery since that is the only thing that is certain.  I know this won't be our first talk about my boo boo, there will be other talks when the time is right.  For now, I feel a sense of relief.  I thought I would completely break down, but I knew I had to make him really see I am OK and will be OK in all of this.  I hope in the coming days he will voice his concerns or ask questions if he has them.  I want him to feel he can tell us anything and ask us anything, always. 

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