Telling the children
On our way home from the hospital, in my head, I rehearsed how to tell our children. Ewan was 16 years old and Annerie, 14. How do I burden my beautiful, happy go lucky children with something as morbid as this?
Like any other parent, I wanted to spare them, but I already had an appointment with the brain surgeon for two days later and was told that he operates on Tuesdays. Brain surgery is not something you can hide from anyone.
No matter how hard I tried I could not come up with a milder version of the word “brain tumour”. There is no way anybody can sugar coat the word “brain tumour”. It is what it is.
The children arrived home from school and I was making sandwiches, trying very hard to act as normally as possible.
I did not fool them, because Ewan said, “Mom, what’s wrong? “Why do you think anything is wrong, my boy? Ewan: “Because you always laugh more when something is wrong”.
I have an agreement with my children that if they are brave enough to ask a hard question, I shall honour their boldness with the truth. Boy, did this silly agreement come back to bite me a few times already!
I looked at my husband, who was also standing at the kitchen counter and I could see that he was choking up. He could not speak at all and my heart broke for him. I have seen him cry only twice in all our over 20 years together, the one time being when my father passed away. Charl loved my dad as his own.
I said to Ewan that I would tell him, but I needed him to a promise me something first. The children were busy with exams and I knew my son worked hard to get good marks. The only thing he ever said he wanted to be was a doctor. There was no way that I was going to allow this news to crush him and rob him of his dream.
I said: “Ewan promise me that after I have told you, you will put the news behind you straight away, no matter how hard. I want you to hit your books and do what needs to be done to get your best results ever.
Ewan promised and I said: “The doctors think I have a tumour”. Ewan said: “Where?” I said: “In my brain”.
His face dropped and I could see the pain in his eyes. He turned around and went to his room and closed the door. Ewan never closes his door. I gave him some time and later found him on his bed and also started to cry when I saw his wet face. I crawled in behind his back and put my arm around him and I promised that I would put up the fight of my life.
To fully understand the impact for my son, it is important to mention that his friend Jaco’s mother passed away when they were in primary school – she had brain cancer.
We all journeyed with this beautiful family, but when we made plans for Christmas they sadly made plans for another round of chemo. The news hit Ewan hard because he understood the potential consequences for us as a family.
Now it was my daughter, Annerie’s turn. I told her the same and she immediately put everything into perspective when she said: “Oh thank goodness, it is only a brain tumour, it could have been so much worse”! We all laughed. Bless her beautiful, positive, fighting fit spirit!
Meet with the Brain Surgeon in Townsville