Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Optimism and Realism: Nanna Has A Big BooBoo

As a mom, the hardest thing I had to do was to tell my 7 children I have cancer and how it it would impact all of us.  Maternal instinct provides protection, not sadness.  I have been able to tell them details over the course of the past few months, and, in small doses.  Luckily, for me, my children have risen to the occasion and showed me how much they love and support me.  While I selectively provided them with the information over the course of a few weeks, the fact is, they are still my children - my babies.  I am their mother and I am causing them to suddenly, and seriously, think of a time without me in their lives.  I know they are thinking and thinking and thinking.  Each of them will call me at various times of the day, staring with, "Mom, can I ask you a question."  Each of them, within their own personality, asks me different questions with different tones in their voice.  Having given birth to these wonderful human beings, I know each of them, and know how to answer each question as asked by each individual.  While each child will always get an honest answer, I know which ones want the details.   I know which ones not to give details to.  Love and Honesty! Optimism and Realism.  That is what this journey will be. The love and support of my children is my strength. Without that, I don't think I could continue the challenges ahead of me.  It is 2014 - I can be optimistic and realistic! Having lost my mother to breast cancer while in my 20's, I know the importance of being told the truth and knowing what is going on.  I know what they are feeling as I tell them and I now know the love my mother felt when she told us..... But....

Telling a 7 year old is a new experience for me.  Since my initial hospitalization when Cameron became very upset because the Doctor wouldn't let me go home, I have wrestled with how to tell him "Nanna is sick."  My heart melts when I see him - when I talk to him - when I hear his voice - and when he got so upset in February, I knew this would not be easy.  I talked it over with Courtney (Mommie) and came up with a plan.

He just melts my heart

The main reason I talked to Mommie and asked if we could tell him the truth was a direct result of a conversation I had with my cousin Shocky just last week.  

Cousins Mary, Shocky and I were discussing what the doctors had told me about having to go through chemotherapy.  I used the explanation, "just like when Mom had her breast cancer, they removed it all, but because it was in her lymph nodes, it came back 3 years later in her bones."  Shocky says to me.....  "WHAT?? Your mom found out she had cancer and died 3 weeks later!!!"  All I could do was laugh.  As usual for our Shahinian side of the family, I accused her of having a "Shahinian moment" when in reality, she and I realized our parents didn't tell her because she was so young - 7 years old when mom got sick and 10 when she died.  She even called her sister, Judy, to confirm what I was telling her was the truth.  Our family was so close we would see each other all the time - and I mean all the time - so how she didn't know how ill mom was, is a mystery to me. 

But, on the other hand, that was 30 years ago, so I totally understand why our parents didn't tell her until the end. No one hardly knew what cancer was in the 1970's and 1980's much less the treatment(s) involved.  We know much more now (well, I pray we do) and while I don't want to put Cameron on overload, I also don't want to lie to him either.  He and I are way too close - he knows the minute we see each other.  I immediately realized, I don't want anyone 30 years from now to say, "I didn't know."

Cameron has not seen me since my surgical biopsy so today he saw my "boo boo" on my chest for the first time.  The look in his eyes when he said, "Nanna, what happened?  Are you okay?" almost brought me to tears.  But, I sucked it up!!  I have to tell him the truth - or at least a version of the truth that a 7 year old can understand.

Mommie and I decided to tell him - "The Doctor found bad germs in Nanna and he has to take them out, so Nanna has to go to the hospital next Tuesday and then will have a big booboo."  

Whispering: I love you Nanna
He knows the days of the week, and counts down to when he is coming to spend the night, so he immediately said, "so today's Wednesday, then Thursday, then Friday and you will pick me up and I will stay with you Saturday and you'll take me home Sunday, then Monday, then Tuesday you go to the hospital, then Wednesday I'll come see you, then Thursday you'll go home."

His response was basic and honest.  As hard as it was to tell my children, who are grown, how to tell a 7 years old is beyond my realm of comprehension.  He doesn't understand but yet he is so smart and he knows something is going on.  Mommie and I agreed, we have to tell him the truth but in the most basic way possible. 

Just the basic facts. I don't understand why this happened.  My children don't understand.  So how should I expect a 7 year old to understand.  Optimism and Realism - I think those will be my two words to carry me through my journey.  Not only for myself, but for those I love the most.  

The 8 loves of my life - the reason I breathe

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