For today, we light a candle

April 8, 2008 Kyron 2 Comments

Well today we had to sit down and tell Katherine that Auntie’s illness was more than jushope For today, we light a candlet jaundice. The word cancer in our family understandably has the most serious of connotations. Katherine is named for two people who died of cancer. Auntie was best friends with these two extraordinary ladies. One of those ladies was my mother. Both had cancer that was found too late, was incredibly aggressive and left so very many of us who loved them with far too little time to say goodbye.

As per the instructions from Katherine’s therapist we’re giving her information in bite sized doses. First we allowed her to deal with the fact that Auntie is sick – she is sick and the jaundice was a very obvious symptom. Auntie looks yellow. Her color is jarring, immediately noticeable and gave Katherine a very real sign to focus on. It seemed to me that it was the best one to focus on – the weight loss, the lack of energy – those were scary to me so if I had her focusing on them it was going to make me go nuts and would not allow me to help her cope to the best of my ability.

Today we tackled the “C” word. At the instruction of the therapist, while we have given her the next piece of information we have not removed hope from the process. As we explained it to Katherine, Auntie has cancer. Cancer is serious, but the doctors and nurses are working very hard to help Auntie to get better. Katherine asked about what they are doing. Katherine asked if Auntie hurts, if Auntie was sad, if Auntie is going to have to get needles. All reasonable questions – you’ll most likely note that even with her knowledge of cancer, the one question she didn’t ask was the one I was afraid of. I am guessing that it’s only a matter of time before she asks if Auntie will die, she didn’t right away so maybe it didn’t occur to her, maybe it’s just not something she is ready to process at this point. 

I guess that was smart advice I was given. As adults we tend to go from A-Z very quickly, especially when you hear someone you love has a very serious illness. As adults we are more attuned to eventualities and more frequently need to analyze the what ifs and whens. We – ok I won’t speak for you – but I easily forgot that a certain amount of information is plenty for kids. So breaking it into pieces works. The biggest thing to keep in mind is DO NOT LIE. If/When Katherine asks if Auntie is going to die the answer won’t be no because that’s a lie – everyone dies. The reality is that Auntie is so sick that she may die from this. There’s no reason to bludgeon her with prognosis, time frame etc. Especially since it’s not information she really needs to deal with things. 


Keeping hope alive is important I think. And not just for Katherine.

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Categories : Strategies

Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. Terri says:

    I am sorry for your struggles. I think your daughter is lucky to have you by her side at this time.

  2. Kyron says:

    Thank you so much for your kind words Terri. I am also blessed to have some great people who help me when it comes to Katherine.

    ~Kyron

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