proof that i succumb to fads and openly admit it once in a while...
and in other news ~ a reminder from twice the rice that it's breast cancer awareness month. doesn't hurt that i used to be a pink freak and of late, that craze has been rekindled... anyway, pink ribbon day is coming up on Oct 23rd this year so even if you're not one to donate and such, please at least send happy thoughts and wishes towards those who need it =) why the fuss, you ask?
*patpats fluffy pink cushion on the floor* time for a bit of sharing...
my mom self-diagnosed a lump that turned out to be ductal carcinoma in situ after biopsy results came back. i still get really mad at the fact that she went ahead with an unilateral mastectomy and now have it as a constant reminder of what she's overcome nearly 15 years later. for her sake, i wish that i had a bigger say in the whole process at the time and to be told of what was happening.
all i remember was my mom sitting me down to say she had cancer and that she would be having an operation. i remember her telling me she'd be losing her hair soon because that's how it'll be treated, but that it's ok. i remember being assured that there was nothing to be scared about, that they had caught it early and everything was going to be fine. i remember how she made it into a happy activity to try on different wigs and bandanas in preparation for her chemotherapy. i remember how odd it was to not be picked up from school by her. i remember how empty the house felt coming home afterschool the day of her surgery. i remember how i tiptoed around her single room @ the hospital, poked at her tray of food and felt like a total stranger in someone else's house staring at the stranger smiling weakly on bed with tubes and things running out of her. i remember wanting to go home =(
my aunt got diagnosed with carcinoma in situ herself nearly a year ago and underwent a mastectomy along with the usual chemotherapy. no, there's no BRCA1 gene present ~ both were just random quirks of nature. talking to her highlighted an important issue that i seldom come across in all the campaigns and organizational websites ~ do you tell one's kids and if so, how do you do it?
my aunt had huge difficulties deciding whether to tell my cousins. she was worried that they would be too young to understand. one was 11, the other 10. she was worried that they would get worried and scared. she was worried about not telling them ~ it wasn't like they wouldn't figure out something was up with all the frequent visits to the doctor and the sudden disappearance of their mom for a few days. she turned to me asking how i took the news when my mom told me way back when, of what was running through my head at the time and whether i wished that it was handled any differently.
i think that the worst thing one can do as a parent is to cover up something that impacts such greatly on your life. it's easy to think "aw, they're just kids" and want them to have a happy carefree childhood etc, but that's an insult on so many different levels. it's as if you're dismissing them based on age, as if they didn't matter enough to be included in something important to you. you may not think this way and i know that's the last thing you'd want your kids to think, but digging into my own memories... i look back with the goodness of hindsight and feel relieved that my mom told me upfront. i remember feeling honored? proud? not quite the word.. it's that feeling being treated as an "adult"at the time, to know (or at least feel) that my parents trusted me enough to divulge such information to that was so obviously important to them. i didn't fully grasp everything but the serious mood definitely made me realize this was a big thing and that i should be pulling my weight around to help out because my mom was sick.
kids understand more than you think, in ways you wouldn't expect... especially the quiet ones *wink* admittedly, a lot of preparation should be done by both parents for their own sakes in terms of reading up on the particular condition and mental preparations too before sitting down with the kids. it doesn't really help to burst into tears in front of them after suddenly having the news sink in for yourself halfway through explaining to the kids what it is you have.
some people are more fortunate than others - they might have had an early diagnosis, successful treatment, minimal side effects and such, but even amongst the survivors of breast cancer.. and any other cancer for that matter will be personal stories that someone called i can say "i remember."