Sunday 4th June 2017
"I knew a person with cancer… they died. So many of us have waited for what was on the other side of those ellipses, the punch line that is phrased to mean a full stop. We’ve been taught that cancer is a full stop, that exhale and emptiness at the end of a book. But these narratives have been reduced to that macabre line, an unintentional joke.
As adults this is how we talk about cancer, so how are we supposed to teach children about this real life, proverbial bogeyman?
Shortly after treatment, family came to visit. They’d brought their kids, and I’d become a self-designated carer to a rambunctious 10 year old who had more energy than I had to muster.
He’d kicked a ball into the bushes and I desperately clung to my wig as I tried to fetch it, but the twigs were winning. I fixed my hair in place and continued playing. It wasn’t until later the question came,
“You have cancer. What is it?”
He had overheard the adults talking.
I felt like the moment froze.
How do I tell him?
Is this ok for me to say?
“Do you know X-Men? They have mutations that give them powers.”
“Well it’s like that, except with cancer it makes you poorly instead of having cool powers”
He accepted this answer and it wasn’t frightening. He was proud of what he had learned.
So perhaps, with this new generation, we can stop teaching in full stops. Lets talk more about how they can be involved in the story, to support and be supported without fear."