Believing you are different is a risky game.
It has occurred to me recently that I seem to believe that I am different, or special in someway. Almost as if the rules don’t apply to me and the ‘norm’ or normal way of doing things, for some reason are different in my case. Or that maybe some sort of miraculous exception will be applied at some stage in all of this.
As a child you are taught to believe in your dreams. That you can do anything you set your mind to, as long as you work hard enough, and don’t give up – you can pretty much achieve anything.
… and so it came to be that just before Christmas (around the time of my diagnosis) my kids fell in love with a film called ‘Pan’. The tale of Peter Pan, the boy who never grows up and who lives in magical world where fairies exist. Whilst this tale is just a story, I love the idea that children believe in magic. They completely, whole heartedly believe – as a parent this is a special thing to see and you hope that they will hold on to it for as long as they possibly can.
Obviously at some stage in the process of growing up you stop believing in magic. You let go of some of the more unlikely dreams that you had along the way. Reality and life make sure that you forget the things that you imagined to be achievable & you settle for those that you believe will make you happy.
With all this in mind, the breast care nurse had her work cut out with me. I was told all about the effects that breast cancer can have on you (physically and emotionally) but I looked instead for the exceptions. I was handed story books to explain these effects to my children, and I instantly said ‘no thank you’. As if these stories didn’t apply to me, my situation, my kids.
I did tell my children of course, about hospital and the nurses helping me and giving me medicine. I showed them my scars as they watched me bathe, and I let them ask questions about all the things they did not understand.
But all the while I also encouraged their love of stories and magic, adventures and lovely things. This idea helped me when writing both a short note the night before my surgery – reminding them of our favourite songs, to believe in magic and to look after each other always (in case I wouldn’t be there to remind them).
You see, I believe that the reality and the harshness of life can be explained in the moment to kids. They can handle it, God can they handle it, when they are called upon to do so – tougher than adults will ever be without a doubt.
In the meantime though, as a mum, you do everything in your power to keep the magic alive. To preserve the happiness and naivety of childhood for as long as possible – and in that way the story of ‘Peter Pan’ has it spot on.
As a grown up faced with the reality of breast cancer and beyond – I have learned to say ‘thank you’ for the second chance, and that I have been given a little bit longer with my kids.
Because, if one day you are not here anymore, just a photo, or a memory – then at least that memory might be that you were always a little bit different or special.
– for Noah and Isla (my Peter Pan and Wendybird)