Over the past year since I’ve gone on-line with my story and web site, I’ve heard from over 200 people newly diagnosed with appendiceal cancer. Almost all of us are diagnosed as Stage IV. We all have advanced cancer.
I have been in contact with many women who are mothers still raising young children.
When I was diagnosed my kids were aged 10 and 11. All I wanted and prayed for was to be alive long enough to raise my kids to adulthood. To see them turn 18, to see them finish high school. If I only lived that long I would see my life as full and complete. I did not want to abandon my children. I did not want to cause my children that pain. Some women I communicate with have children who are infants and toddlers, they only hope to live long enough for their children to be able to remember them.
At some point we have to make a decision about what to tell our kids. Mine were told the truth early on. They knew from the beggining, even before they were told, that something was terribly wrong. I’d had surgery before, this time was different. The phone rang off the hook, their dad was crying. It was the first time my kids had seen their dad cry, “He sobbed, Mom, he was really crying”. Suddenly there were lots of messages on the answering machine every time they came home. For the first time my husband asked my kids to pray with him because mom was really, really sick.
I’ve know some who have decided to minimize the details, to spare their kids the truth. “Mom has a really bad tummy ache and the doctor is going to try to fix it”. I know of cases where that has backfired. One five year old approached his mom one day and asked “Mom, do you really have cancer??” I think if kids don’t overhear conversation, they still know something is terribly wrong in their home.
I’ll talk more about how my kids handled this in my next post.