Ever since this all began on 18th April, a mere 6 weeks ago, we’ve been thinking how to explain all the changes ahead to Tilly. It’s been of huge concern: to tell her enough but not too much; to keep everything as normal for her while things will be far from normal; to prepare her for me looking very different, being poorly and unable to do many of the things she’s used to.
There are a few publications around for children affected by a family member with cancer. The ones I’ve seen seem to be aimed at an older child and I doubt they would hold Tilly’s attention. With language Tilly would find it difficult to understand, pictures that wouldn’t appeal and often they go into unnecessary detail about the treatment. Being only 2, her world is so small and all she needs to know is that I’ll be a bit poorly sometimes and I’m going to lose my hair, BUT lots of things will remain the same.
So I wrote her a story about us. Purposely very tailored to her life and the things she knows. She was kind of interested, but REALLY loved it once a friend had done some absolutely brilliant illustrations. She thinks the picture of me bald is hilarious. Another friend who’s in the book-world has designed it and organised a printers, and we’re going to have a few printed for Tilly and her friends. He sent me the digital proof today and it looks fantastic. Very exciting, and overwhelming that friends have worked so hard bringing it all together in such a short time.
The ‘book’ we’re reading to Tilly at the moment is just a print out, and she really enjoys it. She chooses it to read which is a good sign. It seems to have helped her to understand a little already. Her being only 2 during this makes some things harder but some things much easier. She’s not old enough to worry about what may be, she lives totally in the moment. She’ll be very protected as she isn’t out in the big wide world yet – not at school or even nursery yet, so we can pretty much control what she hears about the situation. She’s kept us going through some tough times, and we want to get her through this with as little upset as possible. She’s so young that hopefully she won’t remember all this, but the flip side of this is the gut-renching realisation that if the treatment doesn’t work she may not remember me either.