Recently on a short drive to the swimming pool my son asked a very tough and unexpected question. “Mom, what’s cancer and do you still have it?”
I guess I knew the day would come when our oldest son would catch on to the whispered conversations and the other room discussions about mommy’s doctor visits, recent scares and weekly blogging passion. I guess I just wasn’t ready for it today.
He’s 5. Why does he know what cancer is?
I hate that this word is even in his vocabulary. I did this to him and our family. But there it is, reality staring us in the face. Truth from the mouth of babes.
My husband and I believe in “no editing.” This was a rule when we dated, after we were married and today. So, what do you say…
Me – “Cancer is when your body gets sick. Mommy got sick because she was in the sun too often without protecting her skin. That’s why today we all wear sun shirts, hats, sunscreen and play in the shade.”
Him – “How do they make the cancer go away?”
Me – “They cut it out.”
Him – “Is it all gone?”
Me – “Today it is but we have to be smart about what we eat and how we live to make sure it stays away.”
Him – “Okay mommy. Sunscreen isn’t that bad. Did you pack my dive sticks?”
I love that. I love how when talking with children the biggest conversations can be so simple. A large dose of honesty and the point is mute.
I also love that I can see this as another benefit of having faced the challenge of skin cancer. My unblemished, fair skinned babies can learn from a very early age to respect their skin and the power of the sun. They can learn the power of food, the dangers of chemicals and the importance of excercise. Hopefully through my experience I can arm them to be one step ahead of cancer from an early age.
And maybe it will be just a bit easier to apply sunscreen to their wiggling bodies from now on.