Let me tell you the most important part of this story first. Each year before my son starts school, I pray for him to have the teacher that is best for him. I don’t say please let him be in Ms/Mr. so and so’s class, because God knows what is best. Proof of this is my son’s teacher that year….a breast cancer survivor. I wasn’t diagnosed until January, so there was no way for me to know that he would benefit from being in her class. I told her of the diagnosis and she was always watching for those times to express positive support. Later she told me she had an opportunity to tell him during those months that she had cancer too and is still here. He smiled at her comforting thought. What a blessing indeed!
Children don’t always express their feelings, as is with mine. He rarely tells me what he is thinking. I have to begin somewhere, so I start telling him about “bad” cells and “good” cells and that I will be taking a medicine so that it can get rid of the bad cells. I try not to use the word cancer at our first conversation. I also encourage him to ask any questions.
Our second talk involves the effects of the medicine (chemo). It will make my hair fall out, but it will grow back. I may feel tired for a while, but it will not last forever. I tell him how helpful it will be to have him here with me. Than I ask for questions. He surprises with a few questions that I never thought of, like the one I mentioned in another post asking what my hair color will be when it grows back in.
At different times during my treatment I ask if he has any questions. I encourage him to talk to me if he feels scared about anything. Hopefully I am covering as many bases as I can to be there for him.
That fall, we’re on the way home and a random comment comes out…”Sugar causes cancer.” I ask where he heard it and he tells me he read it in a book about cancer at school. I have to hide the fact that I am upset that an elementary school would have such a book. A few days later I go to the library and ask to see the book. They can’t find it. hmm? When my son’s class comes in to the book fair I ask him to show me the book. Fear in his eyes, he admits there was no book and that a kid at school told him. This was the first blatant lie I have EVER caught him in.
So now I see I needed to address the direct “cancer” issue. With regret , I see I left him unprepared for classmates comments. I also explain that God doesn’t like lies and that I can’t help him as best I can if he lies. Lies damage our trust in each other too. Along with that comes my explanation that 8 year olds aren’t a good source of medical advice and to always ask me for answers.
Now that it is years later he admits that during that time he was often scared when I was “sick.” All we can do is pray, educate our children as best as we can, be available to them and make adults intrusted with their care aware of the situation. Then let God be at work in their lives.