Thursday, June 16, 2011

Explaining Cancer to a Two Year Old

Cancer is not easy to explain. As an adult and especially as a person in the medical profession, I thought I understood cancer. At least for the most part. After all, we all know that unhealthy behaviors (smoking, lack of exercise, poor diet, etc) can cause cancer. But then it struck my family. And suddenly nothing about cancer made sense anymore. And more than that, I realized how much I truly didn't know about it.

Then add a two year old in the mix. A two year old who wonders why one of his favorite people, his Lolo, no longer comes over to our house to babysit him. Why we don't see her as much anymore, why we can't play with her anymore, why she has no hair. The innocence of some of his questions is just heartbreaking. And all I can muster to say to him is "Lolo is sick, but she's getting better."

Almost every day we have a conversation that goes something like this...

Jake: "Lolo all better?"
Me: "Not yet, but she's getting better."
Jake: "Then we play with her?"
Me: "Yep, then we can play with her."
Jake: "Lolo sick" *insert pouty face*

Sure, it's kind of adorable. But it's also sad. Because he can't understand it. Because none of us can. But how do you explain cancer to a two year old?

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