I had to go to the "doctor" so many times it was so surprise that child number one was beginning to think that something was up. We answered the questions vaguely at first but then it became quite clear that that was no longer going to work.
Breaking bad news to a child is always risky business. How much do you tell? Do you tell the truth? Do you lie? What do you say? Where do you begin? Why tell them anything at all? During my first appointment, I was given loads of information and one very helpful pamphlet answered all those questions well.
The husband and I discussed what we were going to tell child number one and we were going to simply arrange a chat. I felt very nervous about the chat. I was concerned that it would make child number one upset and, of course, that upset me. I knew we couldn't put it off any longer but I also wanted to leave it for as long as possible. Does that make sense? The family chat never came. In fact, I ended up doing it on my own. It went really well though. One afternoon, while I was cooking and child number one was sitting at the bench, the topic just came up quite naturally, and I was able to talk candidly about all that had been going on. I didn't reveal what was to happen in the future, I just told her what we knew now and what the doctor had said the very immediate next step would be. There was a great deal of reassurance and the topic soon returned to rainbows, friends and food. It was actually so easy. The script was abandoned.
And, that is how we foretell the whole procedure to be, one step at a time, with lots of hugs and reassurances that having a lump had absolutely nothing to do with anything good or bad in child number one's world.
I would like to share one funny little story story though, before I finish up. Child number one enjoys putting ticks against correct answers and crosses against incorrect answers. So, the day I came home with a thick purple cross on my armpit child number one was furious with the doctors! The cross had come about when, the day before the operation, I underwent a procedure (most painful four needles I have EVER experienced in my life) where the sentinel lymph node needed to be identified. To show the surgeons where the hot node was, they drew a cross; this is what child number one saw in my armpit. No matter how I explained it child number one just couldn't understand why the doctors hadn't given me a tick...So sweet!
Ultimately, all a child wants to know is that they are loved and that they will be loved forever. That I have breast cancer and all the stuff that goes with it is inconsequential to child number one's absolute need for love. I think it's actually that simple.