On the eve of the eve of the eve of my 3 year Cancerversary, it seems appropriate that my stepson asks those 6 little words: “What’s wrong with your skin?”As I’ve previously blogged before, I’ve never hidden my cancer from G, but I’ve never flat out said, “I have cancer.” He knows that we have to be very careful in the sun, that sunscreen is a must, and that I travel to New York every 3 months to see my doctor. He, the little 3 year old sweet pea, watched as I threw up two nights after my first major surgery due to too much pain medicine. He points at my “boo-boos” and my “sunken hole” in my neck. He’s aware I’ve been sick. He just hasn’t heard the word Cancer.
I hear from parents who think I’m shielding him too much. I receive emails from dads who think I’m doing the right thing by educating him without scaring him. I hear it all. (Hello, hate mail! Hello, love letters!) But, I know our little guy which is why I’ve always felt like I’ve handled my sickness in the best way possible when it comes to him.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I walk into daycare yesterday, and the very first thing he says to me is, “What’s wrong with your skin?” I touch my face and say, “I don’t know?” We pack up and head to the car. I help him into his booster seat and he says again, “What’s wrong with your skin?” Again, I tell him I don’t know; I will have to look. I get into my seat and pull down the mirror, “I don’t see anything.”
Then he says something I wasn’t expecting: “My mommy said your skin made you sick. I can’t kiss your or give you my germs because we can’t let you get sick.”
So the time has come.On the car ride home from daycare yesterday, I have that conversation I didn’t want to have. “Remember my boo-boos and the hole in my neck? Well when I was a kid I had too many sunburns and I used a tanning bed. When I got older, those years of burns caught up with me and made me very sick. It gave me something called melanoma. That is why I go to New York and why we always use sunscreen.” He thinks about it for a second and says, “So you are sick?” I sigh. “No buddy. I’m not sick. I was sick, but I go back to the doctor often to make sure that I don’t get sick again. I just have to be careful when it comes to catching germs because I have to go see my doctor next week.” That seemed to satisfy him.
…At least until we got home. G points to my back, “But you still have a boo-boo.” I told him to feel my scar, to prove to him that it doesn’t hurt, that it has healed. That, knowing I wasn’t hurt, satisfied him and he ran off to play.
I am very lucky that I’ve never had to be brutally honest with G. I’m glad I’ve never had to tell him “I have cancer.” I feel extremely fortunate that I’ve always just been his Chelsea.
Today, on the eve of the eve of my 3 year Cancerversary, I pray that I never have to tell him otherwise.
*I'm very thankful G's mom is very considerate of my health & the need to keep germs away! :-)