‘Is it still your left boob that’s still broken mama?’
‘Yes baby, that isn’t going to change. Its still the left one’
‘I’ll sit on your right side then, I can still get squishy hugs from that side can’t I?’
‘Yes baby, you can get all sorts of squishy hugs at all times’.
God dammit. Bloody cancer has crept into every part of my life. Like I knew it would, but didn’t quite know how far it would and how I would deal with it.
Since the first hospital appointment the cub has known that the left boob has had something going on. As anyone with a child will know, a lonely shower is not a thing. So on stepping out the shower fully bruised from the first biopsy to a child that is sitting on the toilet (as I said – lonely showers are not a thing!), she knew something was off. Not a big deal, I brushed it off. But from that first innocuous comment, I have had to become slightly more elaborate in the explanations without divulging anything in reality. She’s five. Cancer is not easily explained to a five year old!
At the first mention of cancer, the lovely Pauline, our Breast Care Nurse provided us with a children’s book as it was the first words out of my mouth – ‘I have a five year old, what do I tell her’. The man cub read the book in totality when we got it and I skim read afterwards. But in all honesty, it talks about parent sadness, frustration and annoyance more than anything else. While it may work for some people I don’t believe it works for us. I don’t believe that the cub knows that we are sad. That we would ever show any annoyance or frustration in front of her. Not because I think we’re the perfect parents, but because I think we protect ourselves already by bravado and bluster so why wouldn’t we do the same for her? It also talks about anger, and that is something that my cub is not privy to or aware of. She doesn’t get that as she doesn’t witness it. Why would I then try and explain that we are angry? Nope – that book is getting filed in the B.I.N.
Our wee cub falls into the list of those people we fib too on a daily basis! (don’t judge – Santa, Tooth Fairy, eyes in the back of my head, etc etc!!) Sorry folks – but we are always fibbing aren’t we? ‘You alright’ as a colleague passes you on the stairs, followed by ‘yeah, smashing’ is an absolute fib usually. In reality, I don’t think you would want my long answer these days, and I also don’t think I could ever give the long answer so it’s all ok!! So I continue the fibbing and scale down the terror of cancer for my cub. She doesn’t need this in her life (ooh, neither do I but I can deal with it as the adult). She needs her mama bear to be the strongest woman in her corner and being her rock (she also needs me at 2am as apparently her dada closest to the door she walks in isn’t good enough at that hour as she can still make her way round the bed in the dark with her Halloween torch!!!! To be honest, some nights if she hasn’t made a racket getting up I usually awake to the creeping cub arriving like a scary IT child at the side of the bed!).
As this journey has progressed and I have become more tired, the latest heart breaking comment floored me:
‘Mama is really tired Baby, I need to have a lie down; but I’m nearly there and will be soon getting well so I can play more with you again’.
‘So does that mean your scar goes when you are well again Mama?’
What can I say to that? I tried to explain it would fade, but never totally go. It will always be a reminder on my body that I have been on this journey and it won’t be the only reminder – my brain is scarred now as well.
But then we snuggled in on the bed and we both had an afternoon nap together. Something we haven’t done in a long time. And these are the memories I need to help get over the physical and mental scars. This is all I need – my cub in my arms and happy. I am so proud of how we have reacted to this in the main for the cub. There may be less photos on my phone as we haven’t made as many weekend memories due to hunkering down and keeping well. We may have not worked through the man cubs 40th birthday treats from last year due to circumstance. But we are strong as a family. We have found strength we didn’t know we had and kept going – with the school runs, working full time, parenting, domestic chores, keeping food on the table and a house over our heads (although the dust collecting on my skirting boards is starting to taunt me!!).
I have this, and we have this. And we will see the end of this soon!