3: The Kids

The same afternoon I received the biopsy results, I left work to go and pick up the kids. I'm sure I cried on the way there and that I was just trying to not lose it while I was at the school. I thought, "Will this conversation be one of those defining moments in my kids' lives that they will always remember?" 

We went home, and I made dinner. As we were finishing dinner, I told them that I had gone to the doctor, that I was sick, and that I was going to have to take medicine to make it better. I told them that it was something that a lot of people have had before, and that doctors know how to treat it. Owen asked, "Is it cancer?" I said that yes, it was. It was only about a minute or two into the conversation when Owen asked me, point blank, "Are you going to die?" I told him, "The goal is, no." I explained that many people have had the same thing and have lived to be very, very old. But I was honest with them. I told them that I would do everything I could to not die from this, but that I couldn't guarantee that.

They asked questions about the treatment. I could see the concern on Owen's face, especially. I asked him if he would feel better if I told him what was happening as I went through treatment. He said, quite decidedly, yes. I agreed, and he said that made him feel better. I know he understood more of what I was saying than his sister did. He's a very logical person, and I knew that he would feel better knowing what was going on than being left in the dark. It was harder to tell with Lucia, but she said that she, too, wanted me to tell her what was going on, so I agreed to that, too. 

I got mixed reactions when I told people about the conversation I had with the kids. Their dad understood and was very supportive. Others disagreed, advising that I in no way should say anything to the kids about the possibility that I would die from this disease. Some even urged me to not use the word "cancer." They're kids - Lucia was only 5. But this wasn't something I was going to be able to hide from them. They would notice the physical changes that accompany cancer treatment. They would know I was upset about something. They would know I was more tired than usual. This was not something I was going to be able to protect them from. As much as I hated it, this was going to become part of their story, too. So I decided that we would face it head-on, together, as a family. Certainly there are times I've been upset, frustrated, or sick and not fully shared that with them. But I have always told them what treatment was coming up and what, to the bet of my knowledge, the side effects would be. I do not regret that decision at all. 

I fully believe that every kid is different. There was no doubt in my mind that for my kids, this was the best approach. It was best for them, and it was best for our family.