Can cancer be compared to a nuclear explosion? Maybe that is a little bit of an exaggeration but I can’t help it, I exaggerate. I think about it and I visualize the impact of the bomb and then there are the casualties. Finally, there are the survivors and then the fallout. I have been thinking long and hard about this as I have witnessed more of “the fallout” this week from my “nuclear explosion” two years ago.
It still catches me by surprise sometimes, the deep and lasting effects that this journey had on my family, primarily my children. They will never be the same, unfortunately, as they were before. They will always worry about “mommy getting sick again.”
The other day, I was taking my son to get his hand x-rayed because he had jammed his pinky at basketball the night before. It didn’t look terrible but I wanted to be sure. As we entered the parking lot to go to the x-ray center, my son noticed a sign on the front of the building. “I know that place mom you went there with us before.” I breathed a deep yogic breath to try to deal with this calmly. “Yes I did go there with you before.” I replied.
The sign was for the Breast Mammography Center* and Luke remembered going there. It was 2006, the year before I had my malignant biopsy. I found a lump almost one year earlier to the day. For that appointment my husband and children accompanied me. That tumor was benign. The next year when I went for the biopsy I went alone and the outcome was dramatically different.
“I hate that place!” He raised his voice and clenched his fists. “Ugghh!!!!” He began kicking the dashboard of the car. “That guy ruined our life. It is his fault that you got cancer. I am so mad at him.” Wow, I thought, I hadn’t expected this. Here was real, raw rage oozing out of my nine year old. I wanted to tell him that “that man” had in fact saved my life because we found the cancer early, but it would be lost on him, he was too upset.
“I am fine now honey. We aren’t going to that office for your x-ray we are going to the office right behind it.” I stopped the car and watched him wrinkle his face up again and listened as he yelled, “I hate that man. Doesn’t he know that he ruined our lives?” I know that I didn’t do the right thing next. I tried to minimize the whole thing and tried to get him to focus on the x-ray he was having. “Come on honey, the faster you get the x-ray done, the sooner you will be able to have your play date.”
I wanted to move on, I wanted to forget that this was where it all had in fact started but it just isn’t that easy. “Alright mom,” he replied. “I am just really mad.” I held his hand as we walked across the parking lot. That is when I thought about cancer being like a nuclear explosion. It changed our lives and now, fortunately or unfortunately, we have to deal with “the fallout.”