I watched as the color drained from my oldest sons face before his head would drop into his hands. It was as if the assault on his mind was too heavy for his neck to bare. He sat there crumbled over, breathless, and shocked. At 12 years-old he was caught between being a scared little boy and brave young adult. I could see that he was emotionally conflicted. After a few moments he composed himself and with his brow furrowed and his voice shaking he stammered, "WHAT?".
Twelve weeks after this picture was taken we would sit our boys down, one by one, and tell them that I had cancer.
Armed with the next bullet points, (as my husband and I had done a google search on “how to tell your kids you have cancer”), we carried on. We were quick to tell him that cancer wasn’t contagious, no one did anything wrong and my prognosis was very good.
He responded with a few muffled words, stood up and walked away to lash basketballs on the side of the house.
We then took a deep breath and asked our middle child, Max, age 10 to come sit down. (We limited the information for our four-year-old daughter)
“Max, I have cancer. I will need treatment that may make me a little sick. Fortunately, the doctors caught it early and I will be fine. But the next few months I may not have the energy or time to do the things you are used to seeing me do.”
“Mom, you have the camper?” (the weekly speech therapy hasn't exactly panned out)
“Yes, Max, I have the camper." He buried his head in my chest and gave me the snuggles only a fourth-grade boy can give. If I could package these up and sell them, I would be wealthy beyond measure. I only wished they cured cancer.
The threat of losing a parent would loom heavy in their hearts as the treatments took their physical toll on my body and the ravages of chemotherapy compromised my everyday living. My yellow skin, sunken eyes and rapidly emaciating frame were all reminders of the siege our lives were under. They knew their mother was fighting for her life and there was nothing they could do to help.
Over the next few months each of my boys would struggle with the diagnosis and subsequent treatments. Each would break down independent of each other. Both were scared and they both expressed their dismantlement in different ways.
The collateral damage from a cancer diagnosis is immeasurable. Scars now pepper my abdomen to remind me of the battle we waged in 2016 but it’s the invisible scars that run the deepest.
It is now August 2018 and in the last year I lost a friend to colon cancer. He has left behind two young children, an adoring wife and a heartbroken family. The scars from losing a 42 year old father, husband, brother and son are devastatingly deep.
So today this blog post is a scar prevention PSA.
Colon Cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States but it doesn’t have to be. It is one of the most treatable diseases if caught early through early screening. Colonoscopy’s are recommended for anyone over 50 unless you have an immediate family history then it’s even earlier. Statistics are now showing that colon cancer is effecting more and more people under the age of 55. Reasons for this increase have yet to be identified. Regardless, early screening can be a game changer.
Talk to your doctor for more information about genetic risks and early detection.
My “camper” treatments ended in June 2016 and my home is again filled with kids, chaos and endless playdates. With time my scars have faded but they will never truly disappear.
Prevent scars with early detection and screening.
For more information go to: Stand Up To Cancer Colon Cancer Coalition or Colon Cancer Alliance or Kiel Colon Cancer .
originally posted: June 2018