(cross posted from CoffeeandChemo)
Last year, all my kids were interested in meeting with my doctor, and asking him questions. I was happy, because I thought they might ask the doctor different questions than they ask me. Also, I thought that the more exposure they had to my cancer world, the less scary that world would be to them.
Despite my good intentions, we were just too busy. We did not find the time to meet with the doctor, until now.
Well, I guess I did not have to worry too much. My kids are not scared. They are bored.
I practically had to beg them to come to chemo with me. “It will be a chance for us to spend some time together…” I cajoled, “I’ll bring games… and treats….”
“No offense, mom,” began my son, placing his hand placatingly on my shoulder, “but we’d rather spend time with our friends.”
What happened to those little kids who used to cling to me?!?!
Who said I was ready for them to grow up??
“Don’t any of you have any questions for the doctor??” I asked, again, amazed at how quickly things change.
“I do,” said my youngest, meekly. I wasn’t sure if she was hesitating because she didn’t want to go against her brother and sister, or if she didn’t really have any questions, but didn’t want me to feel bad….
It turns out, she really did want to ask the doctor some questions.
“But I don’t want to spend all day there,” she added, lest I get the impression that she wanted to hang out with boring old me for the whole day….
I brought my kids, and my mom, to chemo, on the Sunday between Yom Kippur and Succot.
I persuaded my son to tag along, thinking that it would be good for my daughter, and, maybe, he might discover that he has a question, or two, after all. My eldest had school, so she was out of the picture.
The plan was for the kids to meet with the doctor, sometime in the a.m., and then head off to their friends’ homes by bus. (When did they get so independent??)
Unfortunately, I had misunderstood my doctor. Instead of being in my ward until “at least 11:00,” he was in a different ward until “at least 11:00.” At around noon, we camped out in the hallway, hoping to catch him. Eventually, he whizzed by. In passing, he called out “1:30, the earliest!”
That was too late. My kids were already anxious to be on their way to their friends’. My charm had clearly reached its limit. I stalled them, but… at 1:30, they left, agitated, late to their friends, and without having met the doctor. I asked my mom to accompany the kids to the bus stop.
Of course, as soon as they left, the doctor whizzed back. “OK, let’s go…” he beckoned.
I quickly called my mom. “Did they leave yet?”
It was not so easy to get the kids to come back. They had not even entered the elevator, but they were already “out the door” emotionally. My son was especially agitated at being called back. I promised that I would make it alright, not knowing how I would do that…. I did not have the time to help him calm down. My daughter was pretty upset as well, but she was the one with the questions…
I wondered if I had done the right thing.
My son waited outside the door, while I went in, with my daughter and my mom. We sat down, leaving the door open, so my son could hear, and be a part of things, even if he wasn’t in the room. My daughter was sitting solemnly, not exactly pouting, but not her usual, charming self.
My doctor, on the other hand, was exceptionally charming. Boy, did he work his magic. Within seconds, he put my daughter at ease. The moment I saw her flash a smile, I knew that I had done the right thing.
“So,” invited my doctor, “I understand you have a question for me.”
And then she asked, so sweetly, and so quietly, “What are the chances that there will be a miracle?”
Silence. Anticipation, and a child’s innocent hope, dangling in the air.
“What kind of miracle?” prompted my doctor.
“A miracle,” she explained, “that the cancer will go away.”
I wondered, how would he answer that?
Then my doctor leaned forward, clasped his hands together, and answered carefully, “Well, every year, and every month, and every day, there are scientists and doctors who are working on, and discovering, new drugs. For example, the medication that is working so well on your mother did not exist three years ago. So, I think that it is… reasonable… to expect a miracle.”
He paused; then asked cautiously, “How do you think your mother is doing?”
“OK,” she answered, sweetly, quiet once again. She looked up at me for reassurance, then continued, “she’s tired a lot.”
“And how do you feel?” He asked.
“OK,” she answered.
“That’s good,” responded my doctor, “because you mother is doing well. So you should be able to do what every normal kid your age does.”
“That’s what I want!” She agreed, enthusiastically.
“That’s the key,” my doctor said, turning towards me.
“What?” I asked, not quite getting it.
“They just want to be normal kids…. That’s why,” he dropped his voice and motioned to the door, “he is out there. And that’s what she…” he smiled at my daughter, “is telling you in here.”
And that was that.
A had gotten her answer, and more.
I went outside, and told my son that he and my daughter could run to the bus by themselves, without their grandmother, since she would just slow them down.
I did not have to say it twice.
In a blink, the kids were off, racing down the hall.