Yes, my kid has cancer. Here’s what you should say
A public service announcement:
Hey, there, mom shopping next to me in Target. We’re both in the girls department checking out back to school clothes. You see my daughter. Well actually, you only see her cancer. And suddenly you don’t want to look at clothes anymore. I wish you would have stayed long enough to overhear the agonizing decision my daughter was facing. Would she look better in cheetah leggings or leopard ones?
Hey, there, grandpa at McDonalds. Yep, that’s my child. Yep, she’s a girl. And yep, I know her hair is funky. It’s falling out from cancer treatments. She’s not ready to get rid of it and I’m not ready to make her. Yep, she knows she has cancer. And yep, that’s my husband, and those are my other kids. See how comfortable we are with each other? I wish we didn’t make you so uncomfortable.
Hey, there, expectant mom in Walgreens. You notice my daughter, too. It’s like I can hear your thoughts. You’re thinking, Oh God. Cancer. I haven’t thought about cancer yet. You immediately add it to that already-too-long worry list for your unborn baby. I wish I could pull you aside and tell you that your baby will be fine and you will be, too. I wish I could tell you that whatever challenges God has in store for your child, you’ll rise to them. Because that’s what parents do. They rise. You can’t comprehend that yet. But someday you’ll understand. You’ll rise. I promise you will. And stop worrying so much- you’ll miss too much of the awesomeness.
Hey, there, person in the hospital lobby. You see my daughter right away. You mouth “God bless you” to me. God bless you, too. I hope your loved one heals completely.
Hey, there, fellow parent. We’re both dropping our kids off at school. You see me with my girls. You don’t know what to say, so you don’t say anything. I want to tell you that telling me you don’t know what to say is exactly the right thing to say. And I understand if you can’t say anything yet, I really do. When you can’t say anything, a smile works, too.
Hey, there, old self. You used to be all these people. As a gift to my new self and my friends, here is a public service announcement:
If you see us out in public, know that our daughter is well enough to be out. Know that we are happy for her this day and this moment. Happy to do normal things again. Happy we aren’t in a hospital room. Next time you see us out just say hi, or glad you got out today, or you must be having a good day or good luck with your treatment. And I get it. I really get it. Those words are hard to say. A smile works, too.
Amy Graver is a happy wife and mom of four. She blogs about parenting and the journey on which cancer has taken her family. Her daughter Lauren was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare muscle-based cancer, just before starting second grade. Lauren is a patient at Advocate Children’s Hospital.
About the Author
Amy Graver is a happy wife and mom of four. She blogs about parenting and the journey on which cancer has taken her family. Her daughter Lauren was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare muscle-based cancer, just before starting second grade. Lauren is a patient at Advocate Children's Hospital.