Will I Find You Dead In Your Bed?

It’s time to talk about something other than cancer. It’s like the impending pregnancy, the new baby, the topic that somehow manages to make its way into every conversation without really being invited. I am the 16 year old with the new boyfriend who brings him up at every junction. “Oh you’re having tomato soup?” “My new boyfriend really loves tomato soup”.

Cancer has become the toddler who interrupts every meal. A private conversation with a friend has cancer tugging at the sleeve of my shirt, the hem of my pants, look at me, look at me. My beautiful third born has an ear infection, I am rendered useless to take him to the clinic, the awaiting germs in the clinic too dangerous for my susceptible chemo body. His day away from school is somehow all about me, he covers me with a blanket, brings me a popsicle, and finally when I administer his ear drops while we both lay in bed together we both giggle. I mean how ridiculous do we look.

“There’s no disguising it Fred” I tell him as we warm our soup in the kitchen “this family has been delivered a shit sandwich – that’s all there is to it, but I promise you, it’ll be over by Christmas. We’ll get back to ourselves. This isn’t going to last”.

At dinner we have a long overdue chat. There’s been some misinformation, many conversations between tweens and teens, the facts somehow lost in the drama. Someone has heard that chemo can kill you. “Mum, is it possible that I’ll come to get into bed with you and you’ll be dead. Someone told me that. They said the chemo can kill you in your sleep.”

We laugh. Yes, we do. All of us. So not funny but funny. Someone makes a joke that Dad’s farts would be enough to wake anyone from the dead. My second throws her head back and imitates a deep from the belly resounding muffle. She’s in uncontrollable laughter, speaks in teen, like OMG,  “Mum would be like, dead, and then Dad would fart and Mum would miraculously come to life to tell him off!” They are all now in hysterics.

We head back there again. The facts, the reasons why we’re lucky. What makes our situation a little better in comparison to others. While we eat our dinner, we talk margins, lymph nodes, cycles, outcomes and genetics. I reassure in a way I could never imagine “I’m not going to die, well, not soon. I promise, this will not be the thing that will kill me. Eat the rest of your cauliflower, then carry your plate to the sink for me please.”

It’s time to talk of something other than cancer.

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