My cousin was discussing with me this week about how the phrase ‘brain cancer’ sounds very neat and orderly. It is very easy to understand what it means and to an extent what the health consequences are.
However, the reality is very different as there are very many associated effects which don’t fit into that neat diagnosis. Such as:
- how it affects the other kids
- quality time that you don’t spend together anymore as a couple
- total lack of time or energy or concentration for your day job and the obvious affects of that
One of those things that certainly aren’t neat happened today…or came to a head today.
There was no denying that Ro’is hair has started falling out. It wasn’t particularly long already has they shaved it for the surgery (another story), but one look at his pillow showed that if nothing else it was thinning.
And then as the day wore on, he was literally able to pull it out with little to no resistence.
I remember the time when I learnt that cancer doesn’t cause baldness but that it is an affect of the treatement. And although Ro’i also knows that as he has been told many times previously that it may happen it is still hard not to make the obvious connection to having cancer.
When you see a kid with no hair, your immediate thought is that they have cancer. You don’t think fo the treatment that they are going through, as it is such a universal sign.
An for Ro’i, the fact that his hair is falling uot means that he now has an obvious sign that he has cancer. Up until now, there were no real signs and although it is not ‘really’ a sign for all intents an purposes that is exactly what it means.
And that is hard for anyone to have to come to terms with again. Especially an 8 year old kidd.
Does he mind that his hair is falling out? Probably not.
Does he min that he may not look as beautiful? Probably not.
What he minds about is the connotations.
We have considered things that may help him:
- a wig
- a hat
- us shaving our hair
But it is not really about that. It is about what it now means.
And earlier today he said that he doesn’t want to have cancer – as in that now his hair is falling out it means that he has cancer.
And an hour ago, he said “Imma, I don’t want to die”.
Not something that you want to hear from anyone but especially not your 8 year old son.
And there is no great answer to that. The odds seem to be in his favor, but we also all know that there is no smooth path.
We have explained to him that the fact his hair is falling out means that the treatment is having an affect.
We have also explained to him that we are doing everything that we can to ensure that he gets better as quickly as possible.
But when we need to answer his request not to die, things do become a bit icky.
General advice is to be honest an give as honest explanation as possible. But I am starting to think that actually lying could be the better solution here.
“Darling, you are not going to. Everything will be alright. It will just take time.”
PG, that is the truth but even if you can’t be 100% sure doesn’t seem to be much harm in saying it…
(Forgive my confusion of affect and effect. I do know the difference, but my mind is on other things atm)