Monday, September 05, 2011

Parenting with Cancer .... part 1

Many times I've been asked how are the kids doing with all of this. I've been hesitant to share too much on here because, well, I always feel like that should be their story to tell. {And yes, my kids are 5, 8 and 11 and I'm secretly hoping that they actually won't remember much of this and so they won't have much of a story to tell someday}. I mean I like talking about my kids and all, but on the blog it's harder for me to share things that aren't just so cute or so funny that I have to share.

But cancer has not been cute or funny. And I'm sure you can imagine, but it's been hard on every. single. one. of us. So I will share some of those struggles with you and how we've tried to work through them. {Also, this will be long and wordy. I apologize in advance}

First, let me share with you that my kids knew what was going on every step of the way - from the first visit with the breast specialist, to the mammogram, biopsy and then discovery the cancer. I do not regret keeping them in the loop the entire time. First of all, we homeschool, so for those appointments they either went with me or stayed with dad or grandma. It's not like I could do all this while they were at school so they wouldn't know. The fact is, they knew something was up even without me talking about it. Although we kept it light at first ... the mammogram was just a precaution because grandma had cancer and there was nothing to worry about {which I honestly thought was the case at the time}. So when I shared with them that the biopsy came back with cancer, it wasn't out of the blue. However, I don't think it made it any easier. We all thought the first mammogram was precautionary, a baseline really. We were told the biopsy was precautionary ... that what they were testing was nothing 80% of the time, and only something the other 20, and cancer was only one of the couple of somethings it could be. {I also want to add here, although it was right for my family to be included every step of the way, for other families it is right to withhold all information until the bad news comes. Because each situation and family is different and I am absolutely a firm believer that in all of this there is no one right way to do thing}

Now, telling my kids was the hardest part of all of this so far. It was horrible. I was home alone with them. My mom was on her way over. Husband was trying to get out of work early. I knew I had to tell them before anyone got here, before they figured it out on their own. I wanted them to learn it from me. I wanted to be able to answer their questions, and not leave anything to their imaginations because often their imaginations can think of things that are far worse than the actually situation. But let me tell you, it was also hard. I could have let my husband or my mom tell them I suppose, but for me, I needed to be the one.

Anyway, I called them all to my bed and told them. We all hugged and cried. After 30 seconds, Mister Man (5yo) asked if he could go back to playing the Wii. Which made us all laugh, and then cry some more. Then I told everyone we needed to go eat chocolate. It was 10 in the morning. I think they all thought cancer invaded my brain at that point because I've never suggestion candy that early before! But we ate chocolate and somehow we all felt better. Somewhere in the midst of all of that, and I wish I could remember more clearly, Little Miss (who is not so little at 11) asked me since grandma had it, and I have it, did that mean she would get it. That was a hard question for me. Because I don't think any 11yo should be worried about getting breast cancer. It doesn't belong in their world. They should be worried about puberty coming and shopping for the first bra and things like that. Not breast cancer.

I know Mister Man just didn't understand it all. He's too young. It didn't mean anything to him that day. I was still home. I wasn't coughing. No sore throat. No runny nose. There was no tangible sickness signs he could see. So for him, I was just sad. I'm not sure Miss M (8) really understood that day. She got I was sick, but I don't think that day she really got it. As, honestly, she shouldn't have. Cancer has not really been a part of my childrens' lives. {We've had relatives go through it, but only when they were much younger}. So she was sad. And she hugged me. And was sweet, but yet, not quite grasping it. Little Miss though {who at 11 clearly needs a new nickname LOL!) she got it. She understood it. It makes sense but it absolutely hit her the hardest. She didn't really know what was coming and yet she did know. She may not have seen it, but she got it.

It was such a hard day. Just thinking about it makes me cry. I hate that day. That one day forever changed my children's childhood. In many ways they felt this summer, but it also changed it in a lot of ways they'll never know.

I planned to write more about how they've managed through the summer, but you know what? I can't anymore. I'll try to share more another day. It's just. This part of the story? It's so hard to write about. It brings up so many emotions within (that maybe I'll talk about another day).


  1. I love you, Brandie. My heart breaks for each of you guys. For everyone who has to suffer through cancer.

    My dad had cancer when I was in 4th grade (and he kicked its ass just like you are). I've written about it as an adult because it affected me so deeply. In good and bad ways.

  2. Anonymous8:52 PM

    Brandie, you are an amazing mom and an inspiration in so many ways! xo Chris, San Diego

  3. You and your children are an inspiration. I am so sorry for what you are dealing with. I wish you well.

  4. I had the same philosophy with my BC and the boys. I told them from start to finish. They were actually with me at my follow up mamo and my ultrasound, mostly because I have no one here to help me with the them. I was with them when the Dr called me with my results. We should've had chocolate


Seeing your comments makes me smile! Thank you so much =)