Kids | Cancer: An Essay

cancer essay

I vaguely remember seeing this when I found it the first time, but was so amused when I came across it last week.  I have no idea where she got her five month timeline, but it turns out she was pretty close.  Five and a half months from diagnosis through chemo to surgery and declaration of no more cancer.  I just love the innocence of how kids think, and will treasure every one of the things they’ve written and drawn for me.

Kids | Priorities

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I was going through all the  mail I’d saved for Wednesday’s post, and I came across this prayer request card I’d snagged after Emma Clare filled it out at church.  On Christmas Eve, we were sitting next to Sally and her family, and Emma Clare included her friend’s name on this card. Apparently, she was hoping a pastor at church would pray for me.  Also for her to be able to have a playdate with her friend.  Priorities.  At least I was the first request.

Summer fun

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Since I managed to score a haircut appointment at the very last minute, I didn’t want to worry with finding childcare for the kiddos.  Plus, I was going to pick up Turner from camp early as it was, taking him back home would mean he’d need to miss even more camp.  So after I picked him up, we headed to Georgetown, and we made it there so quickly!  Not only that, I found a parking spot right away.  I figured we might walk past this super fun water feature and they could run through once.  But we ended up with almost twenty minutes to kill, so they didn’t stay as dry as I’d hoped.  Not dry at all, really.  But they were about to sit through an hour long haircut, and they needed to have their fun too.

photo 2 They were soaked by the time we found our way to the salon.  Thankfully, Heather quickly grabbed them a stack of towels, so they dried off a bit and took a seat on a few towels to read their new library books while Dragan worked his magic on my little locks.

Again, thankful

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I’ve written about being thankful before, but once again tonight, I am feeling so very thankful.  I talked tonight to a sweet friend– she has a good friend whose four year old is in the hospital, fighting cancer.  As we chatted, I kept thinking of these beautiful faces.  Of what it would be like to watch them, in the hospital, fighting for their lives.  I am so very thankful that I was the one to have cancer. I’m thankful that I’ve come this through quickly and as strong as ever.  Stronger than ever, really.  But mostly, I’m thankful that these precious children are healthy, happy, goofy, strong.  (Even when Sally asked them to be serious, Turner could hardly hold a straight face!  Emma Clare, ever the model, gave a great blue steel look!)  So tonight I pray.  A prayer of strength for a mother facing her worst nightmare, a prayer of healing for her sweet little one.  And a prayer of thanksgiving for these two healthy goofballs.

This is my village

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We’ve all heard that it takes a village to raise a child.  Well, this is my village.  At our bus stop, at least thirty kids get on the bus every morning.  Except on the rainiest days, there’s a crowd there long before necessary– the kids play, the adults chat and drink coffee.  And after school, there’s a group playing for at least an hour every day.  All during the school year, anytime I needed to head to a doctor’s appointment early, I knew I could drop the kids here or with a friend before they headed over.  And if I thought I might be late, a quick heads up in the morning or even last minute text was enough to ensure someone would see that the kids got off the bus safely and had somewhere to go.

I don’t think I ever told the story about how they found out I had cancer.  I found out on a Friday afternoon, and then had appointments Tuesday and Wednesday.  Tuesday I dropped them early with a friend, and then Wednesday, Clay was going with me to the oncologist, so we both walked the kids to the bus stop.  One friend was just ahead of us, still wearing her running gear.  I remember telling Clay that her littlest must have gotten up early, so she’d have to go for her morning run later, with the stroller.  It’s amazing how much you can know about a person and what’s going on in their life when you see them twice every single day– just her outfit told me lots.  Not remarkably, she could tell that something must be up with me, too– I was dressed, made up, in heels and ready to go for the third day in a row and Clay was with me (maybe only the second or third time he’d ever been there in the morning).  She asked if everything was ok, and I must have nodded and mumbled something about a doctor’s appointment and I’d tell her all about it later.  Only that afternoon, I was late to the bus and everybody cleared out early for various after school activities, so I didn’t see her.  We told the kids I had cancer that night, and the next morning, I had a very early appointment with a plastic surgeon, so Clay had to take them to the bus stop again, only this time, solo.

Clay got to the bus stop with the kids, and a big group of moms was chatting, as usual.  Turner ran up to the middle of the group ahead of Clay and announced quite loudly, “My mommy has cancer!”  And then he ran off to play with his friends.  And then, crickets.  Clay said all the talking.  just.  stopped.  It still makes me giggle to think of how that must have looked.  Thankfully, we’d been camping with two bus stop families a couple of weeks before, so at least two moms knew Clay well enough to approach him and talk to him, most of the gaggle of moms only knew me.

And before I’d even had a chance to chat and hear how it all went from Clay (honestly, I laughed– such a funny scene in my mind!), I had texts from at least two friends.  Simple words, but thoughtful and so kind.  In your thirties and early forties, I think it’s kind of hard to know how to react to something like a friend with a potentially terminal disease.  But my village, they did it perfectly.  Lots of hugs and promises of support.  They offered help, but were so gracious not to smother me.  These families fought over the opportunity to meet any need I even mentioned, and they bragged when they managed to secure a spot to bring us dinner!  They watched my kids, they cooked us meals, they learned more about cancer and reconstructive surgery than any woman our age should ever have to know.  They celebrated with me.

Now that it’s summer, we don’t have that daily connection.  I miss my village.  But even with no bus to catch, we’ll still be spending some time at the bus stop.  It was never really about the bus, anyway.

 

Who needs armpits?

 

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When we told the kids that I had cancer, they were of course worried that I would die.  Being scientists, we opted not to tell the kids I had cancer because of some “icky yucky germs” like one children’s book we’d been given suggested. (Seriously?) Instead, I explained to them that cancer cells grow out of control, they don’t stop when they’re supposed to like normal cells.  I told them that people can die from cancer, when the cancer cells are in a part of your body that you need to live and the cancer takes over so that part can’t do its job. They didn’t need to worry, though, I didn’t need my breasts to survive, the doctors could do surgery and take the breast tissue out and I’d be fine, no cancer, and it wouldn’t change the way my body worked.

Last night I was wearing a tank top.  When I stretched, the kids noticed the scar that’s in my armpit from where they sampled my lymph nodes.  They asked about it, and I told them that’s where the doctors checked to make sure that there wasn’t any cancer, and reassured them that there wasn’t.

Turner’s response: “Oh, because you don’t need your armpit.”

I guess he thinks the doctors removed my armpit.