“Have you told your kids?”

It’s coming. And I fear it’s going to be soon, the time when we have to “tell” our three year old. Of course, he has no idea what cancer is, and shouldn’t at his age. But his questions just keep coming and I’m getting worse and worse at dodging them. But in my defense, he is getting better at cornering me. Take, for example, our lunchtime convo today:
Evan: Mommy, I need to go to the doctor
Me: Why, are you sick?
Evan: You go to the doctor a lot. Are you still sick?
Me: I feel fine, honey
Evan: But you go to the doctor. Are you sick?
Me: I guess technically, but I feel fine, don’t worry honey
Evan: Are you going to be sick forever?
(Here is where I feel like I got punched in the gut and start to tear up)
Me: Wanna watch a Paw Patrol??
Evan: Yeah!!

Ok, so admittedly not my finest parenting moment. But how do you explain something like this to a three year old? He knows something’s up, so I don’t want to lie to him, but I also know how kids internalize things and worry, which he doesn’t need. You may be asking yourself why I ever even told him I was going to the doctor in the first place, and that’s fair, but I tried all other kinds of fibs and it just didn’t work any other way but to tell him the truth in that respect. Any other place I said I was going, he would ask to come along and then I would have to lie even more about why he couldn’t come. I know lying is a sin, but does a child really need to know the details?

I feel like a part of my job is to protect my children from this. I want them to be carefree; I want them to be kids. But I know the other side of the coin is that kids tend, naturally, to be selfish. I want to raise compassionate children that understand that it’s their job as followers of Christ to help hurting people. I just don’t know that mommy needs to be one of those hurting people, ya know what I mean? Our daughter is only 17 months, so I like to believe she’s pretty oblivious to it all, but she is very, very clingy to me, so who knows? Maybe she senses something.

So how do you tell kids? How do I tell them that melanoma is a progressive cancer in most people? How do I explain all the doctor’s visits? How do I prep them for if there comes a time when I’m not able to take care of them? How do you explain that they may not be able to do a sport or activity because we have to pay Mommy’s medical bills? And the thing I dread most, how do I explain to them that they are at a higher risk of it happening to them, too?

I tell ya, every time Evan starts talking about when he goes to school or when he starts driving, I immediately get choked up, just wondering if I’m going to be able to be there to see it. I want to protect my kids from every kind of hurt, and that involves all the awful things that would go along with growing up without a mom. I know it probably sounds like I’m getting ahead of myself, but as a parent, you feel like it’s your job to plan ahead for your kids and when you have cancer, it’s hard not to think about all the possibilities that that entails. To the point where I sometimes (only half jokingly) tell my husband if I think a certain girl would or wouldn’t be a suitable second wife. He just laughs and rolls his eyes. We love each other like that. Maybe that sounds weird or morbid, but it calms me down a little to know that my husband would only marry someone who would be a excellent mother figure and strong Christian example to the kids. I mean, he obviously has fantastic taste in women, amiright?? 😉 I try not to let myself go there, but I promise you this, every time I do, God calms my spirit, often without me even asking Him to. He has taken care of us in every step of this so far, so I would be a real fool to stop trusting Him at this point.

I have no answers, unfortunately. This is just something that comes with the territory I suppose, but I do wish I could come up with something that would help our son feel like he has answers to his questions, but is also truthful. Without scaring him! Haha I guess I’ll just keep praying for answers and that the right words will come as the questions flow. This part is really hard though and I really don’t like it!

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10 thoughts on ““Have you told your kids?”

  1. Dearest Kim (I mean that). You are facing this with gut wrenching honesty. I feel your torn heart about how to be “honest” with a three year olds’ questions – how and what to share.
    As a mother and grandmother I say, take time to answer the specific question in a simple and specific way – honestly. You are right that they perceive so much internally. Children are very sensitive to their parents and other adults around them. They listen and take in when we think they are distracted. So, when Evan asks you why you are going to the doctor, give a simple answer – “I am going for a check up today” or the doctor wants to make sure I am getting help from the medicine”, etc. If he asks, “will be sick forever?” answer, I don’t know. Everyone is praying for me to be all well. God is helping us.”
    The trouble with us grown ups, even young parents, is that we see way too much into the future and take on the worry of what might happen. So, when our very smart but immature children ask these questions, we think we have to give them the whole wad and try to explain everything.

    I have a book that was written expressly to reveal how children cope with cancer. It is called, “Part of Me Died, Too”. Now, don’t get flustered about the title.
    It is Stories of Creative Survival Among Bereaved Children and Teenagers.
    The Author, Virginia Lynn Fry, worked with children who lost loved ones.
    These eleven stories may help you and Eric sort out your feelings, priorities, understanding of how to prepare for your future and how to communicate with your children.

    I strongly urge you to consult with your team at the hospital. They have counselors and therapists available for your need. In fact, they should have support groups that meet regularly. You may want to schedule time for that – see that as part of your healing therapy in addition to the treatments.

    Don’t try to go it alone or guess what to do. You are dealing with having to face the question “Will I survive this?” Will I live to see my children grow up.?”
    Lots more uncertainty for you than the average person who does not have to look in the mirror every day and ask, “How many more days?” (although all of us face the reality that at any moment, a tragic accident or other crisis might take our lives or change them.)

    Let me know if you would like to talk about things. I also have another resource to check into. Let me know if you are interested in looking at this book, or not.

    Your best and most meaningful connection will be through your cancer support team which includes Drs. & nurses.

    I would be happy to talk with you at any time. Just email, we’ll arrange it.

    Isaac’s rocks – so does your family and church family.

    1. Thank you so much, Char! I am definitely interested in that book and need to look into other resources that might be able to help too. Thank you so much for your help, I really really appreciate it! If you want to email me my address is andrewfamily08@gmail.com
      Thanks again for your help! It was great to finally meet you the other night. And you’re right, our support group totally rocks!! 🙂

  2. I will add this concern in my prayers for you, Charlyn had a very well thought out response, try the ACS in lancaster also…..I’m thinkin J Lo for my second spouse :). you’re probably thinkin David Boreanaz eh …….?

    1. I will call them, I had completely forgot! All these resources and I’m not even using them! Haha JLo is a great choice, Eric is waiting on Carrie Underwood to be single and I’m not so much about David since I learned more about him! Guess I’ll have to settle for The Rock lol

      1. Ha ha ,You’re the best, with all those cable tv channels now you can choose from thousands of guys, girls at work like guy on my favorite show Person of interest, Jim Caviezel, a deeply devoted Christian BTW that played Christ in Mel Gibsons The passion…..Praying for you daily…….hear the isaacs event helped you out greatly $$, PTL

  3. Check the library and see if there are any books that might help. Prayong for you and your family. Love you!

  4. I don’t know if what I have to say will help you at all. Seems like Charlyn’s response about covered everything. In NO way am I trying to imply that your life’s journey is coming to an end. So here goes: My Mother died from breast cancer when I was 6. From reading her journals of the last 2 years of her life, I learned that she suffered greatly as this was in the mid 60s (now you know about how old I am – ha!) I was double the age of your son, and I don’t remember much of anything about that time. Except when the time came for her to leave this earth, I stayed with my aunt and my brothers stayed with a different aunt and uncle. She had had several surgeries and radiation treatments that resulted in severe burns. I still don’t remember this. Probably the more you try to hide it, the more of a big deal (it is too!!) it will become to him. Know what I mean? Answer his questions truthfully and then go on.

    1. I think you’re definitely right, Linda. Thanks for sharing that, I’m sure it’s hard to even think about. Luckily, no questions have come up since, but I’m more prepared if they do!

  5. Kim- I just learned of your journey and started to read your blog. You are an inspiration and remarkably strong. I have a foundation that helps local families with cancer, and I am hoping we can help you. Please email me at fightondjd@gmail.com

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