“What do you tell the kids?” This is a question many people are curious about, and here is my take. Early on it was a pretty easy decision for my husband and I that we would not hide anything that was happening to me. Medical things and health issues can happen to everyone, and we didn’t want them to be scared of hospitals, scared of getting sick, or scared if someone they love get sick. I’ve always been a firm believer that they need to know that these things happen, and when they do, we are here for them, people are there for us and we live in a place where we get excellent care.
Everyone may not agree with this approach, but I will tell you that the confidence in our decisions with our children grows everyday. I think it can be easy to not give them enough credit in their ability to understand what is happening around them.
Of course, we give them age appropriate versions of what’s happening, and our top priority is to make sure they have no fear, and feel comfortable knowing they’re still our top priority and maintaining a stable environment for them trumps everything.
Kingsley is 4 years old, and she is empathetic, caring, loving, and we watch her compute what’s going on as it’s happening every single day. I love hearing what she has to say, answering her questions and watching her process everything in her own way.
Hunter, is 2 ½, and he is the most loving, caring little boy – and provides all the comic relief necessary. He is so young, but seems to grasp most concepts, and isn’t phased by it at all. They’re both happy, secure and don’t realize that what is going on with me is much different then what’s happening outside their world!
They knew from the start that I had something in my chest that needed to be fixed. We told them that my body made extra cells, and they had to be removed. We obviously down played the nitty gritty details of the surgery, and told them what they needed to know – like that I would be in the hospital for a couple of days, and after I went home I wouldn’t be able to do all the things I normally do for a little while.
(Below, we got a lot of flowers after surgery – Kingsley LOVED that! Plus, a couple pics from one of their short hospital visits.)
So, that is where we left it at first. We didn’t use the ‘C’ word, mostly because I was worried they’d hear it somewhere else, in a scarier context. We decided we’d wait on the final details of my treatment before making any more calls.
Once it was confirmed that I’d be doing chemotherapy, we decided to look into how to approach the situation the best way possible, because we knew we’d have to give them more details. All the professionals and resources were telling us that we needed to be more up front and honest with them, including using the ‘C’ word.
We waited until my PICC line was inserted into my arm, because it was a great way to lead the discussion – a look what I have – guess what it’s for – kind of situation. We told them I was going to start getting special medicine, because after they removed the cells in my operation, we had to make sure no cells were left in my body (Kingsley learns about cells in school – and she LOVES learning these kinds of terms). We explained how the PICC line is how they give me medicine, and that the medicine might make me feel unwell sometimes, but it is going to be make me all better, and nothing is really going to change.
They weren’t really interested haha – like it wasn’t a big deal. We approached the name, told them this was called Breast Cancer – again, they didn’t really care at all, which is good in my opinion, what’s the big deal MOM?!
Finally, we told them my hair was going to change, and eventually fall out. This took a little longer for Kingsley to compute, Hunter was literally already off playing and didn’t give a shit haha. So I said ‘Kingsley – my hair is going to look like dad’s hair!” – she burst into laughter, thought it was the best thing she ever heard and that was that. Aside from all the ‘funny’ jokes she was making – she’s a comedian just like her mama 😉
We made light of it all, one of my favourite tactics in life – and honestly, as things happen both kids have been amazing. I know they’re ok, we check in all the time, and our decision to be as up front as we were seems to have been the best one, for our family.