Christmas is my season. I plan for it. I love for it. To be honest, I’ve already bought 2 stocking stuffers and a gift for Christmas 08. Please, don’t hate me. But my very favorite thing about Christmas is making it special for everyone around me… going that extra mile.
I was diagnosed on December 22. Merry Christmas.
When I was diagnosed with cancer so close to Christmas I was devestated. I did notwant to ruin everyone’s holiday. And I certainly didn’t want such a wonderful time of year to be filled with brimming eyes and long faces. So Daddy-O and I agreed to keep it from everyone until after the New Year. It was very hard. We were so scared and sad. He and I would wait until after we went to bed at night, then we would talk in whispers about what the future might hold and what my wishes were if the worst should happen. The burden of keeping such a horrible secret to ourselves was great, but it also afforded a small bit of normalcy in the daylight hours with our kids.
I remember that holiday season as being particularly nostalgic and bittlersweet. With each familiar tradition I would think to myself, “This could be the last time I ever do this with my kids.” The need to build lasting memories for my children permeated every activity. We had gone to my mom’s house in Northern CA for Christmas that year, when we returned home I spent some time getting ready for the beginning of treatment: EKG, labs, etc.
On January 2nd we had to make the phone calls to friends and family. We didn’t really have a choice, the next day I would officially become a cancer patient. My mother already knew. She was the only one.
It was hard. I must confess that I had Daddy-O and my mother make most of the calls. We told our good friends M&L in person. We knew we’d be needing their support the most over the next few months. (Little did we know how many others would step forward to help us in our time of need. ) But before we made any of those phone calls we had a more difficult task in front of us. We needed to prepare our son for what was coming.
That Sunday before school began again, we sat down with him to talk about my illness. We explained that I had cancer in my breast. Bad cells growing that were not supposed to be there. We let him know that I had a great doctor who was going to give me lots of medicine to get rid of the bad cells and that medicine might make me sick sometimes. In fact, when it killed the bad cells in my breast it was also going to kill my hair and it would all fall out. That’s how we would know it was working! When my hair fell out we’d know that Mommy was getting better.
He asked lots of questions. He laughed when told I would lose my hair. He didn’t cry. Not once. But he was very worried that I would die. B was only 5 years old after all. Plus, our good friend had died just that January from cancer. In his limited experience cancer = death.
Daddy-O and I admitted that cancer was a bad thing & often killed people if it wasn’t treated in time. We reassured him, however, that I had only had it for a very short time, was getting very quick treatment and was young and strong – not older like our friend. He seemed ok with it.
Naturally, we had only seen the tip of the iceburg as far as his emotions were concerned. Our own too, for that matter. At least the telling was over, though. The telling is the hardest part.