New boobies for Christmas
Tonight, little 4 year old Amira asked me if I was going to die. We were lying in bed in that moment after books have been read but before I tell her to “be quiet and go to sleep”. She’s a wiggly little girl who is either going 90 MPH or is asleep. There is no inbetween for her. She had her first big girl sleep over at her friend’s house a few days ago and she came home seemingly older and with extra attitude. I think she’s also heading into a growth spurt that both kids tend to have in the fall and adds to their grumpiness. She’s been having quite a few time outs in her room this weekend, as we have taken a zero tolerance policy on the whining and crying. And then she comes out with a question like this. We’ve given more time to making sure Xander understands and is not scared and I think we have not given enough credit to Amira. She is oblivious we thought. We’ve been honest with her that I had breast cancer and my boobies were bad so the doctor had to take them off and will give me new ones. She has seen me getting out of the shower and has been very brave but she definitely did notice. She told me she’s sorry that my breasts have surgery and just wants to know when will I get new ones. So, this question came when she was kicking around getting settled in bed. She inevitably kicked my chest which is of course still painful from the mastectomy. She also wants to snuggle in but I just can’t take that much pressure yet. I had to be firm and push her away. Then she asked if I was going to die because of my cancer. I told her no. My cancer was gone. I didn’t add the “for now” part because I’m not even letting myself entertain the idea of recurrence or metastasis because it’s not likely.
After experiencing cancer with my own mother last year the last thing I want is for my daughter to have to have the same fears and stress. How can I keep this from her while still telling the truth? I also think about when she is older and I have to tell her it’s time for her to begin her own cancer screenings. My cancer diagnosis came at 31 but it was relatively large in size and has likely been there for a couple years. So, how young of an age does she need to begin screenings? 25? 20? 18? I don’t know. I do know that I hope there are more genetic markers identified and that possibly we can have these worked into standard of care so that we are not paying out of pocket for each one of the monopolized and patented DNA tests.
For now, I just told her that mommy is going to be fine and I’m going to get my new breasts for Christmas. She asked me if they would be put in a Christmas bag with a bow. I think she’s picturing breasts under the Christmas tree. I might consider taking her to one of my plastic surgeon appointments so she can understand better. That they aren’t going to be the same breasts. That they will look and feel different than before. That’s probably a bad idea but I do think she will figure it out as the process happens. Both kids will. Sometimes I wish they weren’t quite so smart. The instinct to protect your children from any and all pain is so strong that the first reaction is to lie. We’ve settled with the give them enough information but not too much rule. I hope that is enough.