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Know About Ulcers Blog

Hi, and welcome back to Life as a Cancer Survivor. Jelena here, and today I’m going to talk to
you about my experience with telling our daughter Maelle that I have cancer. If you missed my diagnosis video I’ll have
the link in the description below to catch you up on any of that. But I hinted in that that we tried to keep
her out of the loop at the very beginning because we didn’t know how bad the cancer
was so we didn’t want to let her know and have her ask us a million questions that we
had no answers for. But as a stay-at-home mom with a five-year-old
that worked part-time from home, it was going to be really hard to hide all the tests and
treatments from her. So we wanted to let her know what was going
on early on in the process as soon as we knew what was going to happen. The question would be, how would she handle
the news as a five-year-old? Before I get on with my story, I want to let
you know that this is the last video that fits into the category of “The Beginning of
My Cancer Journey”. I can either continue chronologically for
the next five or so videos, or I can switch it up. I’ve inserted a poll up here, just click on
that little “i” in the circle, it probably should already say, “Should I continue chronologically
with these videos?” Just yes or no, answer, should I continue
yes. If you vote no, let me know in the comments below what you’d like to hear next and I’ll
listen to you guys and whatever you want to hear next I’ll cover. Majority rules, so whichever has the most
votes is what I’m going to cover next, so make sure you vote. Now, back to telling my daughter I had cancer. To recap on the timeline of how we got to
telling her, May 23rd I had my colonoscopy they found a mass. May 25th we found out that
mass was cancerous. May 31st I went in for a CT scan, and a couple days later we found
out from that CT scan it hadn’t spread to any organs. But then on June 3rd I had a rectal
EUS also known as the rectal ultrasound, and in that it showed that it did spread to lymph
nodes so that classified me as Stage 3 Rectal Cancer which meant I was going to be going
through radiation and chemotherapy, then I would have surgery, and then possibly eight
cycles of chemotherapy after that surgery. So now that we had a clearer picture of what
my treatment was going to look like, we felt more comfortable and felt like it was the time
to let Maelle know about my diagnosis. At dinner that evening, after the rectal ultrasound,
was when we broke the news to her. I told her that the reason that I had been
going to so many doctors appointments the past couple weeks was because I have rectal
cancer. Since she hadn’t been around anyone that had
had cancer and didn’t see the bad stuff that it can do to people, she didn’t really get
upset or sad by the news. She kind of just saw it as me telling her
that I had the flu. I think that was our saving grace at that
moment because she didn’t know what to expect so there weren’t any bad thoughts dancing
around in her head about what could happen to me. I explained the basics of all the tests that
I had gone through so far, what they had found, that the prognosis was good, and that the
cancer was not contagious, but also that I would probably have some rough and tired days
ahead as I was going through treatment. She didn’t have any questions for us after
we did all that explaining she just soaked it all in. I’m sure her little brain was just grinding
away trying to figure out and process all that we had just told her. She did get excited when I mentioned that
my parents, Grammy and Poppy, were going to be coming for a few weeks to help out while
I was going through treatment. So seeing her excitement about that helped
relieve some of my nervousness that I had about telling her that I had cancer. That evening at bedtime she asked me what
the tumor looked like. So I said I was able to bring home pictures from
my colonoscopy so I can show them to her. She said that she wanted to see them right
then, most likely as a bedtime stall tactic, so I told her she’d have to wait until the
next morning to look at the pictures. The next morning I showed her the pictures
but she wasn’t really interested in them by then. I could barely even tell what the tumor was
in those pictures since I’d never looked at pictures of a colonoscopy before, or a colon
in a colonoscopy, so I’m sure she had no idea what she was looking at either. That evening
at dinner Maelle asked if the tumor was still in me. So I had to explain to her that yes,
the tumor was still in me and it would stay there until I had surgery to actually cut
it out of me. After that one question though she didn’t have
any other questions for me. I guess since I didn’t really look or act
sick, except in the bathroom, she couldn’t really understand that something really bad was
going on inside me. This was her first experience with cancer too, so I think she just had no
idea what even to ask. Although she was only five at the time when
I was diagnosed we still wanted to be as open and honest with her through the whole process. A few days later I was sent a link from the
radiation oncologist’s office to watch a video on radiation therapy. So I had her watch it with me. I knew some of it was going to be pretty boring,
but it showed what the radiation machine would look like so that was good information for
her. And it also had a nice video animation of
what cells looked like, how normal cells divide and die, and how cancer cells just keep dividing
and don’t die. About halfway through we had to stop the video
because she was bored. But she made it through what I thought were
the most important parts and the parts that would be the most informative to her. The next day was my dry run for radiation,
so all three of us went down together to the cancer center. I went down to the room where the radiation
machine was, did my dry run, and then when I was finished I asked the nurses if John and
Maelle could come down and see it, and they said “of course,” so down they came. They were both surprised at the size of the
machine, but otherwise Maelle didn’t say much. We then went to a room to talk to a nurse
about the side effects of radiation. Maelle was sitting in my lap playing on her
tablet, thought she wasn’t paying attention at all. Then the nurse mentioned that I would
probably have diarrhea, maybe even at night time. Maelle perked right up and chimed in, “Mommy
might need nighttime undies!” I think having my parents come and stay with
us for the those first three weeks obviously really helped in many ways, but also really
helped to serve as a great distraction for Maelle. It gave her two people to play with, which
was really important since she was an only child and there weren’t really any young kids
in our neighborhood. But it also freed me up to be able to go into my daily treatments
without having to drag her with me. They allowed her to keep a somewhat normal
life by still going to the park for her tennis lessons in the morning, go to the ice rink
once a week for a skating lesson, and just go out and have fun and do fun things while
I was at home taking a nap. They gave her something going to be excited
about rather than just being stuck around me all day and watching me progressively get
more and more tired and more sick as I was going through treatment. Obviously I was still getting tired and sick
but she had the distraction of Grammy and Poppy there so it wasn’t as in her face. Telling your child that you have cancer isn’t
an easy thing to do, and I’m sure telling an even older child is a completely different
beast. Our approach to parenting was to be as truthful
as we could with her and talk to her like she was an adult. So naturally we were going to tell her about
my diagnosis and then keep her in the loop as I went through treatment. If you are a parent that was diagnosed with
cancer or have a loved one that was, when did you tell your child or your children about
it? Let me know in the comments below. I hope you’ve been enjoying my videos. Please feel free to share them with anybody
that you think might find these useful or helpful. I’d love it if you gave my video a thumbs
up so I know that you’ve been liking my videos. And hit that subscribe button. Thank you so much for watching and I’ll see
you next week.

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