Going through my cancer treatments was a piece of cake for me mentally. I knew that I had a higher power walking the journey with me. When I needed extra strength, it was provided to me. When I needed clarity and peace of mind, it came to me. When I needed a support group, I would receive it. Having my faith is what got me through a lot of my journey.
Emma, my daughter, turned six the day I found out I had calcifications in my breast. I remember that day so clearly. A day I wish was just devoted to her celebration. My husband and I went through the day in a little bit of a daze. We simply were shocked that this was happening in my early thirties. We figured if this was going to occur, we would have a number of years ahead of us before we had to worry about anything. Unfortunately, life threw us a curve ball.
We kept our daughter in mind every opportunity we could. She would become the one we considered when scheduling appointments; it had to be during school hours so she would not be bothered. We initially decided it would be best not to tell Emma anything was happening until we knew what “it” was. After all, how much would a six year old truly understand? In our case, Emma knew a lot about cancer. She has participated in a cancer walk starting at the tender age of one and we have talked about our family history of cancer from the beginning as well. We first felt the less she knew about what was happening with me the better it would be for her. Her knowing what was going on would only create chaos and worry in her life. Something I wasn’t ready to see.
We finally told Emma what was happening the night before my surgical biopsy. We knew she’d be worried as soon as she saw I had surgery. We decided to bite the bullet and just tell her. Trying to hide what was happening was becoming too difficult, and quite frankly, exhausting. How’d Emma take the news? Like the champ I know her to be. Of course, she was worried. She wanted her mom to be here for the long haul; she did not want to see her get sick and lose her hair.
We learned from that moment to talk things through with Emma. We owed it to her to be open and honest. When she had an extra difficult time with everything, we’d talk about it. When her concerns intensified, we’d remind her of the other two family members that came before me, who struggled and made it through their treatments with flying colors.
As the past couple of years have progressed, different concerns have popped up. Her aunt is seeking treatment for Stage 3 breast cancer. This is a completely different set of worries as she watches the effects of cancer firsthand. With the latest diagnosis in our family, she has started to be alarmed of what the future may hold for her. This is something an eight year old shouldn’t be worrying about.
While we continue to keep an open-line of communication, Emma will remain our concern. If it’s something worth hiding until we know more information, we’ll keep it to ourselves. When we feel she’s having an extra hard time with a situation, we’ll pray about it and hope the peace of mind comes to her soon. In the end, it’s never easy when we have children to think about.
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