Bambino Update

Brookside Rose

It occurred to me that I never told you how our conversation went with 4 3/4. Oops. Looking so forward to getting some brain function back…at some point…I hope.

Anyway, back to the story.

Our approach, we decided, was that I would have the conversation with 4 3/4 while The Husband (a/k/a Daddy) was in the other room.  I made this decision because I knew that if I told 4 3/4 in front of the Husband that I would inevitably break down in that uncontrollable, convulsive way.  Scaring 4 3/4 was not the way to introduce her to this FBC road.

To share emotions, even tears, with children is a wonderfully inclusive and dear thing to do.  The  full-on meltdown, bugger-gushing, eye-puffing variety of emotional outburst is not the way to roll.

SO, we decided that I would tell her and then welcome The Husband in to talk about what we discussed.

While on our Brookside Adventure in Sedona, I was sitting on our bed and asked 4 ¾  to plop herself on my lap, facing me.  Quiet environment.  I told her that we needed to have a serious talk.  I asked her what serious means and she said “important.” Good. Total focus.

As you may recall, here are the three things (in order) that I told her:

  • Mommy is sick.
    • 4 ¾ Response: She lowered her head and said, “I know.  In your boobies.”
    • In the original post, I told you that children always know whether you tell them or not (even if you talk about it behind closed doors). Well, 4 ¾ absolutely, positively  K N E W. I told her that boobies are called breasts and that I have (F-bomb-only in my head, of course) Breast Cancer.
  • Mommy’s sickness is called breast cancer.
    • As I mentioned, euphemisms are often obscure (to a child & many adults, for that matter!) and lead to confusion and anxiety. It is imperative to use the exact name of the disease.
    • 4 ¾ Response:“What is Breast Cancer and why did they get there?”  (Did I mention that she is inquisitive, engaging and interested in absolutely everything?)
      • I told her that our bodies, including our breasts, are made of cells. They are teeny-tiny and we can’t see them but cells are what make our bodies work so well.
      • Cancer cells, on the other hand, don’t work or act like normal cells, I said.  They are not nice and don’t treat other cells nicely. 4 3/4 response:  “That is not how we roll!” (Seriously.)  I continued to tell her that cancer grow very fast and are causing my breasts to not work correctly.
      • As to the question of Why (did they get there)?  Well, I told her the truth (of course) and said that we don’t know why and that some things in life, good and bad, just happen without any explanation.
  • Mommy is going to be treated by nurses and doctors in a hospital for 4 sleeps.
    • 4 ¾ Response: “So what are the nurses and doctors going to do in the hospital?”  I told her that they are going to put me into a very, very deep sleep (like Sleeping Beauty) and that the doctors would cut the breast cancer cells out.
      • “Is it going to hurt?” she asked worriedly.  I said that I wouldn’t feel anything because I would be in a deep sleep.
      • 4 3/4 follow-up question: “Will Daddy daddy wake you up with a magical kiss like Prince Charming wakes Sleeping Beauty?”  F-bomb.  For some reason, it was THAT question that got me.  Really got me.  I told her that the medicine would wear off and that I would wake up, but as soon as I did, Daddy would be there to give me a magical kiss.  (And The Husband -MY Prince Charming-did, by the way.  See, Princess dreams DO come true!)

For some children, this amount of information is all they can handle at the time.  Perfectly normal.  This is, after all, heavy duty big (F-bomb) stuff.  Parents are the very best judges of what their children can handle and when.  So, sometimes, going slower is better.  A little information at a time.  Slow and steady…

However, because this conversation both engaged and sparked 4 3/4 curiosity  in a BIG way, I decided to keep our conversation going.  As I also mentioned, there are three questions that will absolutely, positively arise in a child’s mind. These questions will either be articulated verbally (hopefully) or kept locked in their precious little minds (Nooooo!).

These questions are:

  1. Did I cause the cancer?
  2. Is it contagious?
  3. Who will take care of me while Mommy is sick?

So, I decided to address these questions head on and tell her that there are three very, very, very important things for her to remember about Mommy’s Breast Cancer.

  1. No one caused the cancer. It was no one’s fault.  It wasn’t Mommy’s fault. It wasn’t Daddy’s fault. It wasn’t 4 3/4 fault.
  2. Mommy’s Breast Cancer is NOT contagious. I asked her to remind me what contagious means.  She said, “it means that you can give it to someone else.”  Right on, smarty pants.
  3. To address the third question, I assured her that, while we were going to be in the hospital, she was going to have a sleepover with one of her favorite people in the world. …AND that she was going to have very special play dates everyday (thanks to our dear, dear friends!).  This was quite exciting news for 4 3/4. Now, you may also recall my encouragement (bordering on obsession!) about keeping a child’s schedule as regular and as predictable as possible.  Everyone on “Team 4 3/4″ this week knew these priorities and  (thankfully) made sure that in addition to having as much fun as possible, she ate her normal foods and went to bed on time.

At this point we invited Daddy to come into our room, climb into bed and tell him what we talked about.  I was so F-bomb proud of 4 3/4.  She got it.  She really got it.  Most importantly, she knew (and was able to repeat) that FBC is not contagious and that she did nothing to cause it.

For the remainder of our trip, we encouraged her to ase questions anytime, anywhere. It is so, so, so important to encourage children to ask as many questions as they have (without forcing dialogue).  The list went on and on and on and on…and it was WONDERFUL!  I was overjoyed that she was so engaged and willing and open to talk about it.

Some sample 4 3/4 questions:

  1. How will they cut your breast cancer out?
  2. What kind of knife will they use?
  3. Are you sure you will be asleep enough so you don’t feel it?
  4. Can you wear a princess dress during surgery?  (Don’t I wish!)
  5. What are your doctors names?
  6. What types of things are in a hospital?
  7. What will be in your hospital room?
  8. Will Daddy and Auntie Lolo (my BF who stayed with me in the hospital) hold your hands to make you feel better?
  9. Since you can’t wear a princess gown, do you think that you could wear Oscar de la Renta? (I’m so serious.  She may not look like me, but is so clearly my daughter!)
  10. How long will your breasts hurt?

#10 was the perfect segue to then talk about recovery time at home.  I told her that we would have to be very gentle when I come home from the hospital because my breasts would be very sore.  I told her that they will, of course, get better, but for a little while, we would have to be very careful.

Then, THAT was the segue to my favorite topic: SL’s (silver linings).

I introduced the concept to her:  A Silver Lining is seeing the good in something bad.

So, we sat down together and came up with a list of SL ideas, which was so much fun!

The first, which I have already told you about, is the Silver Lining Movie List, with which we are having sooooo much fun! Cuddle-snuggle-buggle time watching delicious movies.

Since she is so affectionate and a great hugger, we now have  SL is “Monster Leg Hugs”. Oh my goodness. Have you ever had one?  If not, you must ask your child for a monster leg hug.  They feel absolutely awesome!

We have also come up with a SL Book List (because watching too much television makes our brain mushy!).

Another Bambino SL is taking photographs together.  I just bought a new camera.  I’ve wanted to learn to take (good!) photographs for a long, long time and now have the time and ability to do so (well, after I’m allowed to lift my elbows over my shoulders).  So every couple of days, we walk around our property and take Mommy-Daughter photographs together.  4 3/4 comes up with some AMAZING shots!

Another SL activity is going to our garden to pick vegetables.  There is no greater joy than watching 4 3/4 tromp around the garden, picking (and test tasting!) vegetables.

Hope you all have lots of SL’s in your day!

4 3/4 Approved!

4 3/4 Favorite Vegetable: Broccoli. Not quite ready yet, though.

Brookside Lettuce

Leave a comment


  1. Carmi Murphy says

    Hi Hollye I have been following your amazing thoughts, beautifully expressed though your journal. How heroic- you, your family and your friends. It has been my honor to be included. I have several other girlfriends experiencing breast cancer right now. Do I have your permission to forward to them your blog. It is truly inspirational. Wanted to wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving. You are the most thankful person I know- so it should be a grand day! Carmi

  2. Wynne says

    What an amazing job you did telling F! And her reaction! Very moving. Thank you for sharing and Happy Thanksgiving. XO Wynne

  3. Mary Beth says

    Wow – so much wisdom packed into today's posting. 4 3/4 is absolutely amazing but no surprise with having you and the husband as parents and of course, her big brother mentors. She is very lucky girl……
    Sending you all lots of love and showers of SL's this Thanksgiving dawn!

  4. Carol Harrington Riv says

    Sounds as if 4 3/4 is going to be some of your best "medicine"!! Be well and Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!


  5. Laura McGrew says

    Hello Hollye,
    You are very generous to share your discussion with 43/4 about BC. Thank you so much.
    I hope the pain is finally lessening for you and that your holiday is relaxing and calm.
    Take care and know you are always in my thoughts.

  6. Cameron says

    we are all thanksful that you are healing and we are all hopeful that the pain will be going away soon. I am telling you this blog will be a book…it is such a great tool to explain your journey…

  7. Marlene Veloz says

    Dearest H,

    This posting blows my mind! The communication and bonding with 4 3/4 on this subject is an incredible SL! What an amazing child!

    Love and monster leg hug, M