The most common question we get after all Dave’s particulars have been shared is “How are the kids doing?” Amazingly, they are doing just fine. I think they are doing so well because the dad they know and love hasn’t really changed in their eyes. He is still active in all their events. He is still working full time, exercising, gardening with Parker, wrestling with Grant. He still cracks the same goofy/crude/odd jokes.
It was hard to decide what to tell them. In fact, in this whole process, it was the one thing on which we didn’t completely agree. I am of the school that you tell them everything (within reason, of course) because I want them to trust that what we are telling them is the truth. Dave wants to protect them from anything and everything. If there is one single thing that he is angry about, it is that the kids have to go through this. He has said it repeatedly. He is not worried about what might happen to him, but he absolutely hates that the kids have to deal with this. He is a good, loving, protective dad.
So, in the end, we told them each what they could handle. With Parker, we didn’t use the word cancer since her pet rats died of cancer. Before Dave’s first surgery, we talked to Samantha and Grant separately from Parker and explained the game plan. That Dave would have surgery to remove the colon tumor, chemotherapy, more surgery to remove the liver tumors and then finish up chemotherapy. Grant accepted the entire conversation at face value – Dad said everything was going to be okay, so it is. Samantha took it a little harder. She asked me if Dave would lose his job. She asked me if he was for sure going to be okay. The first question was so much easier to answer than the second one. I told her that he wouldn’t lose his job. That he could take some time off, if he needed to, and they would still let him come back. And I told her that nothing is ever “for sure” but that we were going to do everything the doctors said to do to help him get better. And she accepted that. We all did.
And everything went according to plan. Except shortly after stopping chemo, there were more tumors in new locations. So for a while we didn’t say anything. We decided it was best to have a plan before we said anything to the kids. We didn’t know if Dave would be having surgery, radiation, chemo or some combination. We haven’t used scary words like recurrence. The kids know that the first round of treatments didn’t get rid of everything so that Dave is back on chemotherapy. There is not much more to say because we don’t really know more than that.
The only time they have been forced to think about any limitations that Dave might have was when we went to Disney World. I talked to each of them and reminded them that Dad was likely to be tired since he was having a treatment right before we left. I asked them to think about what they most wanted to do when we were there because chances were we wouldn’t be able to do everything. They were amazing. I took them swimming the first night we were there, while Dave rested in the room, and they planned out the whole week. They didn’t argue. They compromised. It was important to Samantha that we stay together as a family and not split up into groups. I don’t think that I have ever been more proud of them. They are incredible, kind, smart, loving people.