• Another 100 Days of Good Karma: Day 193 (A Tough Pill to Swallow)


    Tuesday, January 20, 2015

    Run/ Walk/ Bike/ Elliptical (Today:  4.00 miles;  Running Total: 149.85 miles)

    Day 193 of *Another* 100 Days of Good Karma.

    Hannah carried a book into the living room where I sat on the couch reading my own book.

    “Mommy, can I read this? I want to learn about my hair care.”

    She held up the book for me to see. It was a copy of The Care and Keeping of You. This book is meant to give girls seven and older, girls Hannah’s age, a preview of what puberty and ‘growing up’ is all about. The way she said ‘my hair care’ I could tell it was a chapter title in the book.

    “Sure, go ahead,” I said, shrugging.

    I wasn’t worried about what she’d find in there. We’ve already talked about most of what appears in the book. All the uncomfortable parts anyway. I skipped over some of it, like the parts covering getting braces or glasses, figuring we could talk about those if they came up.

    Hannah settled onto the couch and opened the book. “I want to find out why I keep losing my hair.”

    I looked up from my book again, hearing a red flag flapping in the wind.

    “Baby, everyone loses their hair sometimes.”

    “I know.” She rolled her eyes (dear God isn’t she still too young for that?!). “It’s a girl-thing.”

    “No,” I said, shaking my head. “Boys and girls both lose a little hair sometimes. It’s part of being human.”

    “Ok,” she said and ducked back behind the book.

    I paused, trying to think what to say next. I knew what she was worried about, but I didn’t know just the right way to address it.

    Finally, I said, “Hannah, you can read the book but this,” I pointed to my own head, “this isn’t gonna to happen to you. This is because of the medicine.”

    Hannah looked at me over the top of the book and said, “I know. But what if I get cancer later in my life?”

    I just blinked. I was utterly speechless. I mean, really, what do you say to that?

    She was watching me, waiting for a response. And I didn’t have one. Not a single one. After a long moment I said, “Go ahead. Read the book.”

    “Ok,” she said, happy with that answer.

    Except what kind of answer is that?

    I mean, really, what are you supposed to say when your eight year old child is already worried, in fact preparing herself, to get cancer later in life?

    I’m the start of my own family history of cancer, and as much as I want to say to her no this will never happen to you, I can’t. I don’t get a vote in the matter, and I can’t protect either of my children from ever going through this.

    I know it’s useless and stupid to feel guilt over the risk my children run of having cancer someday, but the guilt is there anyway.

    Today’s silver lining: At least they’ll know. At least they’ll have a heads up and can be more cautious when it comes to their health care.

    But still… It’s a sharp pill to swallow.

    What’s your silver lining today?  I love comments!

    Don’t want to leave a comment, but have something you want to share?  Send me an email at gettingthewordswrong(at)gmail(dot)com.


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One Responseso far.

  1. marriannad says:

    I’m hoping I have some words of support and encouragement for you today. I read a blog post yesterday from a woman who developed breast cancer 8 years ago. She did the mastectomy thing and the chemo. However, she turned down the radiation and the hormone medication recommended at that time by her oncologist. Her protocol was not the same as yours – chemo to shrink the tumors, surgery, radiation, reconstruction. I don’t know if your oncologist is still recommending the hormone thingy that I had read about several years ago. But to make a long story short, today, she is sorry she didn’t follow through with the recommendations for radiation that you are going to do.

    This is my way of reassuring you that your oncologist at The M.D Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX, knows what she is talking about. I know you are getting the best medical treatment available. I also know that there have been massive amounts of advancements in cancer treatment in the last 8+ years. I had a friend who had breast cancer in the mid 1980s and she went to the University of Arizona Medical Research Hospital for surgery and treatment including radiation with magic bullets stuck under the skin of her breasts. Some of the treatments she received are no longer being used because there are new and better advancements being made all the time.

    You are putting up a very brave fight and I salute you for this. I share your experiences with friends often and finally have something to give back to let you. I know that right now, you are doing the best thing for you and your health. You go, girl! We are all rooting for you.

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