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. From 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.