If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them. When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or fight like hell. – Lance Armstrong
I have written a lot about how my breast cancer has affected me but I have not really touched on how it has affected my three children. After I was diagnosed with breast cancer and all my pathology reports looked fairly promising, I was not worried about my mortality. I figured I would get my bilateral mastectomy, some new breasts and we could get on with our normal lives. I never expected to be once again laying on my couch broken and bruised after yet another surgery a year and a half later and I never thought about the toll it would take on my family.
After two failed attempts at reconstructing my breasts that included many trips to the emergency room my family has seen me go through a lot, and as a result gone through a lot themselves. They have witnessed me cut open and healed, broken open and healed only for it to happen all over again. They have seen me cry in pain and cry in despair. We really understand the saying “there is no such thing as minor surgery.” Now every surgery becomes a risky and scary thing where failure is inevitable and worry is built-in.
I remember when we first told the kids I had breast cancer, Julia, 13 at the time put her hands over her ears when I started giving her details. She was clearly not ready to hear them. Gideon, then 4 was sad that I had to be cut open and Logan, 10, who is always interested in the facts, wanted to know the risks involved in my surgery..
A year and a half later with multiple surgeries behind us they have come a long way. Now seeing drains coming out of Mommy’s sides has become the norm and I am no longer afraid to let the kids see all my bruises and scars. Gideon has taken it upon himself to be my home nurse, he knows how to set up the couch for me when I get home from the hospital and insists on sleeping on it with me. After one surgery I had a bad reaction to my anesthesia and threw up for three days. Every time I rushed to the bathroom, day or night, he ran right behind me, patted my back and said “Mommy, think of a happier time before all this, before you had breast cancer.” He is wise beyond his years. After my last stay in the hospital he made me promise that I would never go back to the hospital for 5 days “EVER again, ever!” Logan is learning how to go food shopping by himself, yesterday he was excited to tell us he saved $14! Julia keeps her distance from me whenever I first get home from the hospital, I’m not sure if its because of fear or anger or a little of both but by the next night she always ends up on the couch with me fighting with Gideon for a spot by Mommy.
Now that I have decided to stop trying to reconstruct my breasts, once I heal from this we truly will be able to get on with our lives. I hope our honesty with the kids throughout it all was a good thing, I don’t believe in hiding things from them. Even if the truth hurt a bit It was better for us to face it as a family then to not face it at all.
As I sit propped up on my couch once again healing from surgery the things that really keep me going are seeing Gideon’s smiling face when he says “Oh Mommy and kisses my boo boos”, Logan asking me if there is anything I need and watching funny youtube videos and Netflix with Julia It’s the little things.