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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Telling the Kids (2 out of 3)

This is what went on two weeks ago, after I learned about my brain mets.

Saturday night, I felt pulled in all different directions. Some last minute issues came up about my son's end of the year play and I had to call the drama teacher to try and resolve them. At the same time, my eldest was anxious to get me out of the house -- I had promised to take her to the mall before she went away the next week. We made it to the mall, but only had about half an hour before the mall closed. Crazy.

I did not have the time, or enough information, to think everything through.

The end of the year play is so all-encompassing, not to mention stressful, that I really hoped to tell the kids afterwards. I forgot that, by then, my eldest would not be home for another several days. I also did not realize how fast things would be moving.

Early Sunday morning, my daughter left for a week-long seminar of "MaShaTzim" (Madrichei Shelach Tze'irim -- a training course for young tour guides).

Sunday afternoon, my oncologist called to tell me he made an appointment for me to begin radiation on Tuesday morning. He could not make it earlier, because the radiation ward was not operating that Sunday or Monday.

I did not expect to begin so soon!

I started reading up on radiation for brain mets. I realized that I really should talk with my kids before I started. But my eldest already left for a week! Aack!

OK, I would stick to my plan of waiting until after the play.

Sunday night, we ended up having a real sit-down dinner. (Unfortunately, It is unusual for us all to be home and eating at the same time.) After dinner, the kids and I sat around the table talking and I knew the time was right.

Over the past few days, I figured out how I wanted to frame the news. From the moment we learned of the diagnosis, Moshe reassured me that this was just "more of the same." That was how I wanted to present it to the kids.

So, as we sat around talking, I told them that the MRI showed progression, that the cancer spread to the brain, that I needed radiation (like I had before) and that I would be changing chemotherapies (again). It felt surprisingly straightforward.

The kids listened, did not really have many questions, and switched topics shortly thereafter.

It seemed so simple.

I wondered if I was missing something.

How could they be so nonchalant about something that sent me into a tailspin?

I had to remind myself that I wanted them to absorb the news without fanfare.

After much deliberation, I had successfully packaged the news so that it was not scary.

So, why was I unsettled?

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,


muse said...

One of my cousins, whose entire childhood (infancy until his mother's death before his 10th birthday) was with a sick mother, told me that to him that was reality. I had emailed him, replying to his that it was his mother's 40th yartzeit, that he had had a tough childhood. Too bad I didn't save the letter, but he said something like:
"I never think of it that way. It was the only childhood I knew."

You've done a good job with your kids, so they feel secure. You're their mother and they love and trust you.

Refuah Shleimah

Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...

Ack! A cliffhanger! As my kids say, "Ani bemetach!"

Karen said...

You have conveyed the news to the children in a straightfoward way, and they have accepted it. Doesn't mean that it how you are processing the news - you know the reality.
Sending hugs and prayers.

Yehudit said...

Anything that ends up "too easy" (although this can't be classified as having been easy for you) makes me very nervous. My grandmother used to say something about not hearing 'the second shoe drop.' In any case, you're doing the very best for your children that's possible and if there is a delayed processing or reaction for them to this news, I know you'll guide them just as strongly through that too.

Jew Wishes said...

Your children are secure. They received the information, and knew they could ask questions. They didn't feel the need to.

Maybe somewhere down the road they will ask, who knows, maybe not. But, you did the best you could, and they might not want to dwell on the situation, and that is why they moved on with different topics.

Prayers to you.

Karen said...

I think there are three factors. One, your kids trust you. You haven't lied to them before, they have no reason to think that you're lying now. You're telling them that it's not something to panic about, so they're not panicking. Two, as we discussed, after your initial reaction, you also realize that while the news is unwelcome and unsettling it really IS more of the same and not anything to panic about. And three, kids are very self-absorbed. I'm sure that they don't spend nearly as much time obsessing about your illness as you probably think they do. (I don't know your kids but this is based on my experience in my own situation.) This goes back to #1, but you have told them that you are stable and plan to live a long time, they believe you, and they have MUCH more important things to worry about - which is healthy and exactly the way that it should be.