Saturday, May 10, 2008

Denial and Truth

"I believe in looking reality straight in the eye and denying it." --Garrison Keillor


That's kind of where I have been for the last 6 weeks. The whole breast cancer/mastectomy thing is never far from my mind, but it's sort of been out there...sometime in the future...eventually. I only have 9 days now. On May 19th, sometime will become now.

I'm nervous and a little anxious.

I've had to prepare the boys. They have known that I was going to have more surgery, but they didn't really know what that meant. After the lumpectomy, there was no visible, outward change in my appearance. They knew I couldn't hug them on that side for a while because I was sore, but that was the extent of the impact it had.

This is different. Being somewhat curvaceous--maybe more than I need to be according to my six-year-old--this surgery will leave a very noticeable mark. To ready them for this dramatic change, and the extended amount of time it will take me to recover from this more serious operation, I ordered the book, When Mommy Had A Mastectomy, from Amazon to help me communicate what would be happening to me. It's not perfect, and maybe a little young for them, but was a good way to open the conversation about what would be happening to me.

They listened, and giggled every time they heard the word breast, but seemed to begin to understand everything. The Rationalist was the first to laughingly say: "So...you're going to look like this?" He raised his shirt and showed his bare, flat chest.

"Well....on one side...yes, I guess I will."

This was too much for him and he giggled and practiced holding out one side of his shirt, over his chest, and leaving the other part of it flat against him.

"So...you're shirt will look like this?"

"mmmm...sort of."

I had to explain about prostheses, reconstructive surgery, and that other people may not know after a while. He was satisfied with those answers. Intuitive Monkey had many more questions which he peppered me with throughout the day, but even he seemed to grasp what was happening and didn't seem too worried or upset.

I'm not sure how other mothers handle breaking things to their kids. I remember reading a comment from a mother on a breast cancer forum that amounted to,"I don't talk to my kids about cancer or breasts." I don't think I could take that route. Knowledge can wipe out a certain amount of fear, even if it can't completely annihilate it.

We have always been very frank and honest with the kids, and I think that has really paid off. They don't have to fear that there are things we're not telling them. They feel free to ask us about anything they want and know that they'll get a truthful answer...and for that I am proud and content.

Although...I know it's only a matter of time before we get the,"So, how exactly does that baby get inside of the mother anyway,"question. I'm actually surprised it hasn't come yet. Describing that process will incite even more giggles, I am sure. Hopefully, they won't think to ask about it for a couple more years.

However...The Rationalist did make this sign and affix it to our bedroom door, so maybe he knows more than he is letting on!



Gosh, I hope not.

:-)

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