Sophie has continued to bring up my breast cancer herself, asking questions and sharing feelings. She and I had alone time on Tuesday and without prompting, she shared that she got to sit next to Ms. Brown on the school bus on the way home from their field trip, and that she asked Ms. Brown whether she got my note about (and here she whispered) my breast cancer.
In the same conversation, she asked, “But why don’t people know how people get breast cancer?” (Amma said that at breakfast, she asked how people get cancer.) Also, “Do kids get breast cancer?” and “How do men get it if they don’t have breasts?”
Then a few nights later, after Sophie asked me to sit with her in the bathroom, she asked if she could tell her friends that her mom has breast cancer. I told her she could tell anyone she wanted. (Later that night, I worried that it might not be appropriate for her to announce this news to other 1st graders, but I spoke with her (wonderful) teacher who said Sophie could say whatever she needed to say.)
Still in the bathroom, Sophie then said, “I’m worrying but I don’t know why.”
I didn’t want to make assumptions so I asked, “What are you worrying about?“
“I’m worried about the breast cancer, but I don’t know why.”
“Of course you’re worried, Love. But I really do plan to be fine,” I said, hugging her close, squeezing her hands, stroking her cheeks, kissing her forehead, wanting to make all of this go away for her, for Harrison.
(Here are more tips for talking with kids about cancer.)