Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The kids are alright

My daughter is 6. We've talked about cancer and chemo with her before, although as she grows, we find ourselves having to go over things again with her. And with each revised conversation, there are more questions, as one would expect from a child with a quick, ever-developing mind.

You never know when your favorite person in the world is going to blindside you with a hard-hitting, gut-wrenching question. And your answer is as vitally important as the question itself. So you have to be ready, at all times. The way I navigate that minefield is by simply offering her the truth.

The truth, wrapped in a soft cozy blanket.

Today, as we were driving home from swim lessons, she asked me if we could wake up early tomorrow, just the two of us, so we could play together before school. Aww. A request as sweet and benign as that made the reply a bit tougher to muster. "Well, hon, we could get up really early to play for a little bit, but Mommy DOES have to leave early because I have chemo tomorrow."

Her response was passionate. "What? NO! WHY? NOT AGAIN! I THOUGHT YOU WERE TAKING A BREAK FROM CHEMO! I HATE CHEMO! PLEASE DON'T GO TO CHEMO, I HATE IT SO MUCH! IT MAKES YOU SO TIRED!" Insult to injury. I told her that I hated it, too, and it was no fun, but it was what my doctor said I needed to do now. She grimaced and complained some more. Then a smirk spread across her face, and she asked, "What if your doctor told you that you had to get a new TV? Would you do that?" We both laughed. I told her I probably would. The car got quiet. Then she asked, "Wait...WHY do you have to do chemo again, anyway?" Ugh, not this one again. So I told her, "Well, it's medicine, remember how we talked about this? It's for that thing mommy has, that thing called 'cancer', remember? Cancer is a kind of sick. Chemo helps keep the cancer from making me get sick. It's stupid, I know, that I have to take medicine for THIS LONG, but that's the way it goes." She thought about this for a second, then said, "Mommy! Did you remember to pack my ponies in your bag?" Ok. Cancer conversation complete, I guess.

So she's up to speed. And she seems ok with it. Her biggest concern is my fatigue. She isn't aware of the big picture yet. I'm grateful for that.

And yet, I think she senses there's a fragility to me, almost as if she feels I'm a precious gift she doesn't want to take for granted. Toweling off after her bath tonight, she told me, "Do you know how I spell 'love'? It's 'M-O-M-M-Y.'"

I will never stop fighting.


  1. This made me cry, and I think the whole world should read your writing, because your perspective is invaluable and you frankly fucking rule.

  2. I agree with with Rachel. You frankly fucking rule. I am channeling, funneling, gathering, collecting all the healing energy this side of the Mississippi for you Shelly.

  3. FYI- Shelly here. My daughter woke me up today at 5:54am, and yes, we have been playing ever since.


  4. That little B is something special and no wonder since she has you as her Mommy!! Fight on Shelly! We love you!

  5. This made me cry too. And, yes, you frankly fucking rule Shelly.

  6. Betty is such a dear little person. What a love. I hope the new treatment is agreeing with you and disagreeing with everything it's supposed to.

  7. Gut, punched. Wish we could bottle that love you wrote about. Keep fighting Shelly, knock the hell out of it.

  8. Shelly, YOU ARE LOVE. A endless stream of beaming love that your sweet daughter and so many other people cherish. You will fight this fucking thing because LOVE always conquers FEAR. ALWAYS!!

  9. How do you not dissolve into tears right in front of her? What a sweet little thing. LOVE YOU!! xoxoxo

  10. Shelly, thanks for sharing your journey with us - I'm glad that your legion of friends and family are able to tune in and send love, health, and vitality your way!

  11. Shelly, it was so great to see you and Neil for a bit this afternoon! I'll keep experimenting with recipes and bring over any food that exceeds my you may end up with lots of baked goods :) I might have to buy some zucchini for bread or a cake as incentive for you to start a garden in the backyard!

  12. Wow. You have so much to live is ineffable. CHEERS to LOVE!
    Cheers to playing with your children at 5:55AM. Cheers to this new chemo - may it be a great teammate and bring home the final leg on the relay.
    Kick some Cancer butt!