Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Epidermal dishonesty

I have never shown my kids my scars. I have one very long gash up the front of my stomach, and a round, button-like lump on my upper right shoulder where my port is (not-so) hidden underneath my skin.

In fact, we've never really talked with the kids about the cancer. For heaven's sakes, they're only 3 and 2 years old, and I haven't SEEMED sick to them, so... we just let it go. If Betty asked, we would have addressed it, but she never did.

I guess I was afraid the scars would freak them out. I didn't want to have to explain what they meant. I also figured I could buy some time. The stomach scar would continue to lighten until one day it was no more than an unalarming, pale vertical stripe, and the port will be removed (but not for at least a couple years, I'm told. Dash it all.) (For the record, I am getting rid of most of my bandeau-style shirts and tank tops that don't hide the port. If you have one you'd like, send me your address. I'll mail it to ya!)

Today Betty was playing with my necklace, then her hand wandered over to my shoulder, and she looked up at me. "Do I have a dot like you do?", and she pulled down the shoulder of her shirt so I could inspect her clavicle area. I realized she was acknowledging my port, and in fact, the way she'd so calmly asked about it made me think she's seen it plenty of times. I told her she didn't have a "dot", only mama did. She asked me to look again, as if I would find one if I looked hard enough.

She wasn't freaked out at all.

Same day, little Rhodes and I were playing in my room. I was tickling him and he jumped on top of me. He pulled my shirt up to my belly button, pointed at my scar and asked, "Oww?", then he looked at me searchingly. I realized he had seen it before, too. I chirped back, "Nope! No owies. It doesn't hurt. Mama is fine!" He smiled and continued playing.

Two scars noticed in one day.

I'd been dreading them seeing me scarred, thinking perhaps they wouldn't be able to handle it. But clearly, the issue really belonged to me.

Someday, when they're much older, I'll be able to tell them about all the scary things that happened to us this year, right under their little runny noses. For now, I'm so glad they feel like everything is and has always been just FINE: Mama and Dada are happy and healthy. Only good things happen! The world is forever a safe place.

High five, Neil. We pulled it off.


  1. kids are very observent, and very resilient. Sounds like you're doing just fine navigating all this with them.

  2. I find this post quite touching, probably because my kids are the same ages as yours. So glad for all you have to celebrate right now.

  3. Amazing, Shelly. So touching.