Thursday, May 9, 2013

Mom and The Polka-Dot Boo-Boo

Telling the Kids ...

With Mother’s Day fast approaching, I will start by saying that everyday is Mother’s Day to me. I wake up each morning to the best two gifts I’ve ever gotten!! Not a day goes by where I don’t thank God for my babies. (They are actually still at the age where they don’t mind me calling them my babies.)  They were both so strong throughout this entire ordeal. I found myself struggling before my surgery with: “How am I going to tell my babies about all of this? They look to me for everything. They will be here and they need to know what is happening…” I believe in telling children the truth. (They are always smarter than we think.) How do you explain breast cancer to a child?

This was a struggle I put off for as long as I could. I had spoken with both of my children’s teachers about what was going on, and one of them suggested we go to the library and look for a book to help explain.  I was all for it.  She told me that she had unfortunately dealt with this issue several times in her classes over the years.  We went to the school library and got on the computer. As we scrolled the screen I thought, “Note to self: There are not many books out that explain cancer on a child’s level.” Then one jumped out at me--one of the merely two we found. It was called “Mom and The Polka-Dot Boo-Boo.” I knew right then that it was perfect without even reading it. I couldn’t wait to tell my Mom about it.  When I did, she was so excited that she jumped right on the computer to order it.

The girls and I sat down with the book together and read. “Mom and The Polka-Dot Boo-Boo” is a gentle story explaining breast cancer through rhyming text to a young child. It includes things that may come along such as loss of energy and hair but emphasizes there is never a loss of love… It’s written by a Mom (Eileen Sutherland) and illustrated by her young daughter (Maggie Sutherland). My daughters loved the child-drawn pictures. This book helped by making such a difficult step easier for me.

The book starts off like this:

I have some news to share with you, to help you understand.  I have a boo-boo in my breast.  It is called cancer, and…
It’s like a polka dot that neither you nor I can see.  It’s settled in behind my skin and we need to set it free...

They were not scared learning of this, and I reassured them everything would be okay. (That’s always the strong thing to say.) I think it helps that I always believe it when I say it. They understood things so well and asked tons of questions. The book even helped them understand what they had seen my mom experience during her battle with cancer.

Although there were some nights of crying and a few episodes of getting scared, I was happy that my babies were not afraid to talk to me. I reassured them by saying, “Look, Mommy is going to be okay! And guess what? You get to brag that your Mommy is a survivor! Did you know that?” Sometimes it was hard trying to turn their tears to smiles without crying myself. They always see me being so strong (something I picked up from my Mom), and I thought it was important to let them know that it’s okay to get scared and it’s okay to cry. (I still have to remind myself that.) I had to explain to them that I wouldn’t be able to do a lot of things for a little while. I was on a lot of meds and was in bed most of the time.  I couldn’t raise my arms or pick anything up for weeks after the surgery. My youngest had a hard time getting used to me not being able to pick her up. (Yes, I still pick my seven-year-old baby up!) LOL! They even learned how to hug my arm and be very gentle when they touched me. They were so strong. I am so proud of them. My babies!!

I have a lot of love and respect for Moms, especially single Moms like myself. The day-in and day-out never ends, but you wouldn’t change it for the world—because it’s all worth every minute.

Now the hardest part of it all … I had to tell my Mom …

(to be continued…)


  1. I want to read this book, Lady! I should have known you would figure out the perfect way to explain this to your babies. I'm so impressed with how you've handled sharing the news with the girls and the amount of thought you put into every little detail. :-)

  2. I enjoyed rereading this moment from your prospective. I appreciate you allowing me to be apart of your life and your child's life through this journey. It has been an inspirational one!!!! We will see you at Award's Day:)