One of the hardest things of going through breast cancer has been watching how my boys react. They are 8, 6 and 4 and they have all reacted differently, yet it has affected them all deeply. At the time I was diagnosed in February 2014, my mom was already in the last stages of her life with bone cancer and I would talk to my boys all the time about how “Nona” had cancer, she was sick and getting weaker, to try and prepare them for when she did pass away. They were used to talking to her a couple of times a week, so when they would no longer hear her voice and talk to her, it was hard for them to understand why.
When we sat down and told the boys that I had breast cancer, they had a few questions, not many as I’m sure it was sinking in and they didn’t quite understand. Over the past few months, it has gotten harder and harder. Two days after my bi lateral mastectomy, my mama passed away. So, I got home from two days in the hospital and had to process something that I knew was going to happen, but I just was not ready to let her go. A couple of days later, we told the boys that Nona passed away. My middle son David cried uncontrollably.I was taken aback at how he reacted. My oldest son Daniel was very sad, he had been very, very close to Nona and I can tell it still affects him to this day. Dylan didn’t really understand, but in the months to come, he showed it in his own way.
After that, bedtimes were hard. Each night, they would pray for me to feel better and for Nona to feel better and pray that I wouldn’t die from cancer too. They prayed for Nona to come back and I would explain again that Nona had passed away and that they would see her again one day in heaven. That would just cause more tears, more heartache and I would break down with them. Everything was just too fresh for me. I just had surgery and I felt so different as I had no breasts anymore. My mama, who I called for EVERYTHING daily was gone and I was not going to hear her voice anymore. I was not going to be able to call her and ask advice and I was not going to be able to tell her how much I loved her. The boys felt the same way.
Each bedtime became, please Lord don’t let my mama die from cancer, or from breast cancer. Each time they prayed it, it broke my heart and I cried. Then they would ask, if Nona died from cancer, will you die from cancer? I would assure them, as would Aaron that I was not going anywhere, that God had a plan for me and that I would be there to see their weddings and their children. Every night they asked the same thing and every night I would give the same answer and try and reassure them. They would squeeze my neck so tight and they would say “I don’t want to let you go mama, I don’t want you to die.” Even writing this, it brings tears, because they have such sweet hearts.
At one point my middle son blocked it out that my mom had passed away and then he prayed for her to feel better one night and I had to explain again that she had passed away. He innocently asked “so, I will never get to see her again when we go up there?” (meaning in Canada when we visit) and I explained that he wouldn’t……….to which he broke down all over again and it broke my heart. The two of us cried together and hugged for a long time.
At bedtime, they still ask about Nona, they still question how I am as they see I’m not the “same mama” I was before April 15th. I tell them I’m getting better everyday and I know that I will be at 100% in the near future. It hurts so much to look at them and know they are worried about me, that it scares them that I had cancer and that they are afraid to “let me go” sometimes at bedtime. That’s the time I take the extra time and snuggle them, kiss them and pray with them and let them know that I am here for them and that I will be for a long time.
What is the hardest part of being diagnosed with breast cancer? The affect is has had on my children. They are so young and don’t quite understand. The good thing is that they see mama is strong, mama has a powerful and amazing Lord Jesus Christ who strengthens her and mama never gives up. I hope that as time goes by, that is what they see and the fear goes away along with the hurt.