My daughter, Tayla, is a beautiful, strong and independent child, who is mature for her age yet a sensitive soul behind her tough facade.
She has just turned 16 but was 14 years old when I was diagnosed with Cancer
Being the older of the two children ( Jarrett was 12 at that time), Craig and I assumed that she would have the better understanding and be the one to cope with what we faced as a family.
The problem was, we underestimated just how much she understood and did not give her enough information for her to process and for her to feel secure.
On the night we told the children, Craig sat holding Tayla on the couch.
We told the children that I was very ill and that I had Cancer.
Tayla burst into tears... Craig held her as she cried and we continued to tell them about what to expect so that they would not be frightened or traumatised when they saw what was going to be happening to me.
Craig and I had already had a few days to come to terms with this as well as speak to the psychologist, so we were already in the frame of mind that I was going to survive this.
We assured them that, although it was going to be a difficult road, I was going to be alright.
As I said in a previous blog, neither of them asked "could I die"...so we never discussed the possibility of dying or how serious the Cancer was.
When she stopped crying, I thought we had successfully re-assured them and that they would be fine.
How naive I was!
As the days went by and I showed more signs of the treatment taking effect, Tayla withdrew emotionally until she withheld all affection from me and stopped saying " I LOVE YOU"
She behaved like a nurse and would gladly hold my hair back when I was vomiting or bring me anything I needed.
She took on a practical role and avoided any personal conversation.
I tried to talk to her and ask her about her feelings but she would not go there.
I tried talking to her about my day and she was not interested in hearing about that either.
It broke my heart as I interpreted this behaviour as her being angry with me for being ill, and not being there for her as her mother.
I was wrong!... and only much later came to understand that....
As she is highly intelligent, she was not only seeing but hearing everyone talk about how serious it was.
She was frightened and thought I might die, therefore she was distancing herself from me to cope with loosing me.
She thought we had not told her the truth, and she could not bear to ask, so she carried that uncertainty with her and it ate her up emotionally!
We should have been blatantly truthful so that she could have known how hard I was fighting to be with her not think I was lying to her.
In retrospect, we should have said the words
" Even though this is very serious, mom dad and the doctor's are going to do everything possible to make sure that I survive....I am not going to die"
On the day I was told the Cancer was CLEAR, we immediately told the children.
Tayla said the most precious words...
" I LOVE YOU MOM"
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