Talking cancer with my 7 year old

Last night, I was lying in bed with my 7 year old and remembering a very similar night almost 2 years ago—the night I was diagnosed.  It prompted a discussion about my experience.  I’ve wanted to talk to him for awhile to make sure he is not afraid—I’ve had little indications that he still thinks a lot about my experience.   It’s not entirely surprising since we certainly didn’t sweep my experience under the rug.  It’s become a big part of who I am and the activities we do as a family—fundraisers, walks, cheering at the 3-Day.  Right now he is making an art book to sell to raise money for cancer. 

The conversation was so interesting and his questions were so insightful.  I almost forgot I was talking to a 7 year old.  And I was reminded that he doesn’t forget anything.  He wanted to know why there was one survivor at the 3-Day in a wheelchair and what happened to her.  I explained that they didn’t find her cancer early enough and it had spread to other parts of her body.  I also talked about how important it is to find new and better medicines to treat cancer when it’s spread.  I told him that’s a big reason why we work to raise money.  ry=400From there, he wanted to know how you find cancer.  Can they see it in your pee he asked? So I talked a bit about my lump and how I initially felt the lump.  He also asked how they knew it was cancer and I was able to tell him how they looked at the cells very carefully.  I was amazed at his comprehension and interest in the little details.  I know he loves science and he seemed fascinated by everything.  I even explained why I went to Dallas last week and learned how to look at proposals for research.  He said, “You mean the research that doctors and scientists do?” He totally gets it, and he didn’t seem afraid. 

I’m more confident that he talks about cancer because he is interested and not because he is scared.  I hope he sees cancer the way I do as something we need to conquer and not something we need to fear.  I’ve learned that fear is not helpful but action is, and I hope in little ways this cancer experience has taught my children the same lesson.


Posted on July 28, 2009, in breast cancer, breast cancer 3-day, Breast Cancer 3-Day Ambassador, fundraising, kids. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. so well written! and yes…it is truly amazing what kids pick up and how they perceive cancer. plus…im sure your son is pretty darn smart too. oh….and btw…thanx for commenting on my blog. the only 2 intros people left…were my friends who I already knew! 🙂

  2. Ellyn,
    My boys were 3 & 7 when I was diagnosed. When I was losing my hair I let them shave my head with dad’s help of course! We have had many conversations such as yours since I also now work to find a CURE. I asked them once why they think some people die from this disease and why am I so lucky, just to see what they would say. “They said this is part of your journey mom, it is God’s plan for you to go out and make a difference. That is why you are still here.” WOW! I could not speak after that. Out of the mouths of babes.

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