When I got the official diagnosis of appendix cancer, I knew I’d have to tell our son more than just ‘Mama has bumps in her tummy”. He was about to start hearing the word cancer a lot.
I showed him my CT scans pointing out the bits I knew (realising high school biology had long since left my memory) because he kept insisting on inspecting these bumps I spoke of!
On the way to my parents’ house to tell them the news, we pulled over and I climbed into the back seat. “You know how Mama has bumps in her tummy?” Yes he innocently replied. “Well, the doctor said that it’s something called cancer.”
When you tell adults, they gasp or cry. Master 4 looked at me blankly.
I told him that people might get upset or angry because cancer would make me a little bit sick. He seemed unconcerned - we choked back tears.
Talking to kids about cancer is difficult because they don’t understand; they can’t. But we believe honesty is the best policy. He still doesn’t really understand but when my tummy hurts he knowingly replies “aah yes, the bumps,” with all the wisdom of a younger Doogie Howser!
Naomi Evans is a Newcastle-based writer and editor.
Follow her story each week at newidea.com.au, and you can check out more at wordsandwhatnots.com.au.
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