Telling the people you love that you have cancer is often more difficult than hearing it yourself. As mentioned in a previous post, there is no support system near me. This means I rely heavily on my phone and on social media to communicate with people. Unfortunately, this is also how I had to inform my loved ones.
When I shared my journey from the start I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of support from people, both familiar and unknown to me. People were following my journey. Of course this meant that I had to keep them updated. It’s pretty irresponsible to share the start but not the following chapters of a story when you get people emotionally involved. However, people do need to understand that things take time, and most did. When the topic is something so sensitive it needs to be shared with family and loved ones first.
I recall getting messages on social media from people, some demanding but most just asking on my results while I was still waiting for the oncologist. I thought to myself geez.. I’d really like to tell my mother first. It did remind me the importance of finishing what you start. (Hence the blog)
My first call obviously was my mother. (Though I confess my first point of contact was my very good friend via text because he’s been my pillar.) Mom did what (most) moms do and hid her emotions until she got off the phone, then cried on her coworker’s shoulder. I lead with strength but I know she heard her little girl’v voice when I asked if she could come take care of me for surgery.
It needs to be said that my parents have never done anything for themselves my entire life. They never even had a real honeymoon, and they have only been on one vacation which involved my brother’s wedding in Jamaica. This doesn’t count as something for themselves. My dad had surprised my mom with a trip to Cuba and I went and got cancer so that surgery was one week before their trip. Cancer isn’t very convenient! (This joke helped lighten the conversation for everyone. My parents did get to go on their vacation in case you’re wondering.)
My next few calls were close family and friends. It got a little easier with each call, almost like rehearsing. Then I recorded a video for social media before collecting my daughter from school because I planned the rest of the evening to be uninterrupted between the two of us. This was the conversation I felt was most important.
She had made me promise that I would tell her if it was cancer when I had informed her of the biopsy, as though she feared I would keep it from her. She said she heard stories of other moms not telling their kids because they didn’t want to worry them. It’s a personal choice. I don’t feel that is the right path for my relationship with my daughter.
I raised her to be honest and not keep secrets from her mom. It wouldn’t be very good if I didn’t lead by example. Children are stronger than we give them credit for, and most of the time their fears are actually ours projected.
That afternoon I picked her up at school instead of having her go to her after school program and we skipped martial arts. I didn’t bring anything up until we got home so I could hug when it was needed. I sat on the couch beside her and told her my results. I told her it was good that it was caught very early and I was not going to die. I just might be sick for a little while.
We cried and held each other. I asked her if she minded sharing her feelings with me and she said she was scared. I said I wasn’t scared. I told her if you must have cancer, breast is best. It is one with very high success rates and I know I will beat this! Then I looked her in the eye and said these exact words to my 10 year old: Baby, Mommy is going to kick cancer’s ass so hard it’ll wish it never messed with me! This brought a smile to her face, and like everyone else I’ve talked to shew followed my lead in not letting the fear take over.
We had a nice evening together and life carried on as though there were nothing else going on.