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

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

To Tell or Not To Tell?

Now that we are settled in a new state, we are making friends and getting to know a lot more people, which is really nice.  We have been spending a lot of time with our neighbors and another family we met through soccer.  It feels like things are getting more "normal" each and every day which is refreshing!

The problem I have is the whole breast cancer thing and my diet.  What is hard for me when we go somewhere is worrying about the food and the hormones in it.  When we lived in Michigan, my family and friends all knew and often would prepare something special for me or I would just bring something I could eat with me and it was no big deal.  Here, no one knows I had breast cancer.  As we get more and more invitations out to do things I fear it is going to be harder to keep this to myself.  I just won't eat meat full of hormones or certain foods that are not good for hormone positive breast cancer. 

It's not that I don't want to tell people, it's just awkward.  At what point do you discuss something so personal and devastating with someone you are building a friendship with?  It puts me in a very uncomfortable place at times. 

The other thing I have to deal with is my son does not really know I had cancer. He knows I had a boo boo in my chest and needed surgeries to make me healthy.  He also knows I had some strong medicines that made me tired for a while.  Because I kept my hair through chemo, he has no idea I even did it.  I acted normal and we did normal things all through my treatment so he never asked any questions so I just went with it.  What makes this difficult is that the more people I tell, the more chances of my son finding out that I had cancer from someone else.  I plan to tell him, but when the time is right - not now.  He is only five. 

I had many reasons I did not want to tell my son I had cancer.  First of all I didn't think I needed to teach a four year old the words "cancer" and "chemo".  Since I had planned to use the Penguin Cold Caps to keep my hair through chemo, he would not really see me look any different.  Also, I was staged as Stage 1 breast cancer and the odds of recurrence were less than 10% for me so I am being hopeful that I won't have to deal with breast cancer again or at least for a very long time.  Given all of these things, we decided it would be best not to tell him at the time. 

Now I struggle with my son not knowing and my friends not knowing that I had breast cancer.  I guess at some point I will have to tell some people, but for now I just mention that I have some very unusual dietary restrictions and hope no one asks too many questions.  If they were to ask questions I don't even know what I would say.... I also try to invite people over here more for get togethers so I can control the food better.  I wonder how long I can keep this up!

What's strange is with breast cancer you try so hard to move on and forget about it but it keeps interfering with what should be "normal" events or things in your life.  It is pretty dang annoying!  Darn breast cancer.......ugh!


  1. You are a bright woman and you will figure this out. I had just read Nancy's Point, check out her post http://nancyspoint.com/when-a-parent-receives-a-cancer-diagnosis-what-do-you-tell-the-kids-twelve-tips/
    She also has a link for resources.

    I plan to make my blog into a book as a keepsake. I got really excited when I tested it and saw how beautiful it came out. When you are ready to share with your son, perhaps this will be a way for him to see/read about your journey in your own words. http://blog2print.sharedbook.com/blogworld/printmyblog/index.html

    I did something similar when I was pregnant with my girls. When they were teens and began to wonder about deep feelings, I gave it to them. They disappeared into their rooms to read it and came out with bright happy eyes. What a memory that is for me....

  2. There are a lot of people who won't eat meat or only will eat meat that is hormone-free who DON'T have cancer. They do it just because they are very health conscious. I don't see why you couldn't just explain it that way. Why go into it? Or just say, I'm semi-vegetarian. If they ask, say because you just like to eat healthy. That's what I plan to do. (dancetrancer from the bc board)

  3. I am so impressed by all the research you include on this blog. I was diagnosed in January (Stage I, ER/PR+, HER-, no nodes) and was lucky to receive a low Oncotype score so I am not doing chemo. I did, however, have a lumpectomoy, re-excision and then finally a bilateral mastectomy with immediate direct to implant reconstruction so it has been a whirlwind. Currently on Tamoxifen and trying to get on with things.

    I, too, am struggling with food and cosmetics. Are you trying to be 100% organic, hormone free, low fat or are you making any allowances for holidays, traditional meals? My nutritionist said that 80/20 would probably be a sustainable split, but I am feeling very torn and confused.

    Thanks for anything on the topic. I feel like my pursuit of environmental, food and exercise related purity is my new second job and I already have a job. I am having a lot of anxiety about it.