Curtain opens on a stunningly beautiful 38-year old woman sitting in a meadow full of wildflowers balancing a butterfly on her finger.
Bombshell drops, center stage.
Silence. Then -
(freakout freakout freakout
tearful snotty blotchy breakdown
cry some more cry some more)
Me: Deep breath. Focus. Pull it together.
Ok, we got this. Now what?
Act One was yesterday, and today I'm slowly moving on to Act Two.
I had a small breakdown at Rip's last night. Rip's a member of that elite Inner Circle who gets to see the Raw Me, and R and I thought it best that I not cry in front of the kids. Rip, along with most of you, thinks I should tell the kids what's going on. I don't disagree, but my mom thought we shouldn't tell them, and I want to be respectful of that. R thought maybe we should just tell the Beeb, but that would put her in the same unenviable position that I'm in now - having to keep it from her brothers - and I don't want to do that to her. So we'll either tell all of them or we won't say anything.
Of course I don't want to lie to them. Of COURSE I don't. But I don't agree with the argument that they'll be pissed at me for not telling them right away. I think my kids know that my intent would be to take the entire burden onto myself and shield them from the worry and pain. I'm an big advocate of Ignorance is Bliss.
R will be the one to break the news, on that we agree. He's very calm. I'm don't think I would be able to be, especially if they start crying. I can't stand to see them sad. It's one thing when they're crying out of frustration or anger, like when they want me to buy them some Star Wars legos and I'm just not going to do it, I can handle that, but when they're overwhelmed with sadness, it breaks my heart. So maybe it's selfish reasons why I don't want to tell them.
Pie's reaction is really the one I'm most concerned about. He knows just enough to worry about worst case scenarios. Oh, and get this, I found some schoolwork of his in his backpack yesterday morning, before I got the news:
That first sentence is "What will you do about Cancer?"
And get this - I hadn't even told the kids about the biopsy. This is a worry that's in his head already, and we don't even know anyone with cancer. He is so sensitive and compassionate, he takes on everyone else's worries and because he's only almost 7, he doesn't know how to handle that emotionally yet. Hell, neither do I. But he's smart enough to know plenty of bad things that are possible.
There's a Ben Folds song that I love called Still Fighting It in which a dad is singing to his son. I listen to Rockin The Suburbs in the van a lot, usually when I'm by myself so I can sing out loud, but one time Beeb was in the van with me driving home from a friend's house, and as I listened to her tell me about what happened over the weekend, a particular lyric that I sing in my head all the time just struck me really hard.
"You're so much like me, I'm sorry"
And of course I choked up, and she caught me, and asked me why I was crying. So I said the lyric, told her I feel that way all the time with her and her brothers, like I pass along some of the things I hate most about myself and sometimes it makes me sad to see those things in them, and she said,
"That is really sad for you to feel that way. But it's okay, Mom. I like who I am, and I like who you are."
Ok, so about my dad, here's what we know.
His Gleason scale score was a 7. Not sure what that means, but I don't think it's good. I don't know anything about stages or whatever. The first course of action is putting him on Flomax for three weeks to see if any symptoms can be relieved with medication.
They're considering this treatment option, which I found on WebMD:
Radiation is a treatment option that may be less traumatic than RP and appears to have similar results when used in early-stage patients. Radiation also produces side effects, including impotence, in about half of patients. It can be applied through an external beam that directs the dose to the prostate from outside the body. FDA also has cleared low-dose radioactive "seeds," each about the size of a grain of rice, that are implanted within the prostate to kill cancer cells locally.
Called brachytherapy, the seeding technique is sometimes combined with external-beam radiation for a "one-two punch." Studies done at the Georgia Center for Prostate Cancer Research and Treatment show that 68 percent of men treated with both radiation methods applied simultaneously are cancer free 10 years after treatment. Intel Corporation chairman Andy Grove, who was last year's Time magazine "Man of the Year," underwent the combined radiation therapy three years ago. According to company spokesman Howard High, Grove, 61, is "in excellent condition" now.
I know it's not an automatic death sentence. I know I can explain it to the kids in age-appropriate terms. I hope I can express the gravity of the situation without scaring them, but I don't want to go Pollyanna and say that everything's going to be all right - because what if it isn't?
I'll tell them, I just think it might be best to have more information first.
Friday, January 23, 2009