I guess maybe I thought it would be a one-and-done kind of thing. “Allison, Mommy has cancer. But the doctor will fix me.” “Okay, Mommy.” *skips off to play*
Well, it didn’t go quite like that. And it was just the first of many conversations. I felt like I had to warn her about my impending hair loss because I remember how freaked out I was when I was her age and my dad grew a mustache. And he wasn’t even sick. It was weird and scary and I wasn’t 100% certain he was my dad anymore with that crazy 70s ‘stache.
So one night I told her that the doctor is going to give me very strong medicine to kill the cancer. And we can’t see inside my boob, but we’ll know it’s working because my hair is going to fall out. And I’m probably going to look silly, but I will still need lots of cuddles. Maybe even extra cuddles. The medicine might make me feel tired and if I was too tired she can play with Daddy. But I will never be too tired for cuddles. We talked about maybe she could cut my hair (something the oncology social worker suggested) and she giggled. I reminded her that the doctors are going to fix me and I’ll be all better.
“Can we stop talking about it now?” This is what she says when she’s on overload. She taps out.
A few days later we had this conversation:
“What if the medicine doesn’t work?”
“Then we’ll try another medicine. My doctor knows all the medicines that kill cancer. That’s what he does all day every day–kill cancer.”
“But what if none of the medicines work?”
“Then we’ll cut off both my boobs and when we go to the beach I won’t have to wear a shirt!”
That made her laugh.
One day she came home from school and she told me that she was crying at school about the cancer. And her classmates Savannah and Claire made her feel better. (Do you even have to be a parent to feel absolutely crushed by that? By her tiny little blonde tears in the school cafeteria? Ugh.)
The next day she brought this home. It’s a get well note from her friend Claire.
Friday night I was putting her to bed. On weekends she likes to “camp out” on the floor of my office. It’s hard to remember when it was a good time to sleep on the floor, but she loves it. She’s got a Doc McStuffins sleeping bag and a Disney Princess lantern.
“Good night, sweetie. I’ll see you in the morning.”
She bursts out crying.
“What’s the matter?!”
“I’m worried about your boob thing!”
“Honey, remember I told you I’m going to get medicine and I’ll be better.”
She grabs me and squeezes me as tight as she can.
“I wish you never had cancer!”
3 thoughts on “Kindergarten cancer conversations”
Wow! That is killer. I don’t have kids or cancer, but I do have a heart. I can’t blame her for feeling that way. I was crying a month or so ago when my dad was telling me that he would /likely/ be moving 10 hours away. I cannot imagine how I would react if I found out he had a potentially life-threatening disease.
Thanks Christa for sharing these tender, sad and hopeful moments. There are lots of us cheering for you (and some of us pray too) Give that Allie girl a hug from NanaX and Callahan can give you a hug from me!
Thanks Kath ❤