Not your fault, honey


I saw him rolling down, down, crashing onto my hurt side just as he loomed large, too big and powerful for me to stop.  He fell on me, full force, just as I tried to roll out of the way, and my side split in pain.  I couldn’t help but yell, and I scared the dickens out of my three-year-old.

He curled up, crying, terrified that he’d hurt Mommy.

It took quite a few minutes of crying, calming, cuddling each other before either of us was quite okay again.  But all the chaos did give us the opportunity to talk about the hurts, and about the cancer itself.  I reassured him over and over that it was not his fault.  That it was not his fault that Mommy was sick, and not his fault that Mommy hurts and is so tired these days.  After a few minutes, I think he believed me.

I think he believed me.

Kids are so self-centered.  Thank goodness.  I thought that would be our saving grace, that perhaps the boys wouldn’t internalize Mommy’s cancer, and would someday forget that things weren’t perfect when they were little.  But I forgot that they kids also tend to (irrationally) think that it is their fault.  That they thought something, and it happened.  Or just that they did something wrong, and Mommy got sick.

It’s not his fault.

It’s not my fault either.  As I explained over and over, in comforting tones, it’s not anyone’s fault that Mommy is sick.  It just happened.  Mommy’s breast got sick, and we took it off, and Mommy went to the hospital a lot to get special medicine, and now Mommy gets the light shined on her every morning, and now all that’s left is for Mommy to get better.  To get stronger.  To return to normal.  Whatever that is.

We’re starting on that road tomorrow.

For today, this morning, is my very last radiation treatment.  Tomorrow I go back to the oncologist to get started on the hormone therapy and determine what tests I’ll need to see if the cancer is gone or just hiding.  I’m praying for gone. 

But either way, I’m going to keep writing about it.  Thanks for coming along on this journey.


38 Responses to Not your fault, honey

  1. Linda Lawrence says:

    Yes, keep writing about it. That is the only way we know. We want to know, because you are dear to us!
    Little ones probably understand better than adults sometimes. My good friend’s 3 year old grandson was attached by a flesh-eating bacteria for want of the medical term. He is now home after 60 days in the hospital. He lost muscles in his legs and one foot. He quite easily tells people that his foot was sick and the doctors took it off. He has a long way to go, but he seems to understand about the foot. My point, your little ones will understand, too. You are a great mom!

    Love you,

  2. Bon says:

    praying for gone, friend. and rejoicing that this is the last of the radiation mornings, and your skin and self can now begin to heal.

    and oof, you and Widget, curled into each other, crying, cuddling, being comforted…

  3. Nancy says:

    I’m praying too … gone … va-moose … let it be gone!

  4. Amelie says:

    praying for gone with you.

  5. Alison says:

    I’m praying for gone, too! Totally and completely gone, nonexistent!!

  6. I have been waiting and longing for this day, Susan… It is here at last– and so are you.

    I can’t tell you how proud I am to “know” you, and how much I’ve learned from being allowed to follow you on this journey.

    You are one amazing lady, a wonderful writer, and a fantastic mother.

    You and your family will be in my prayers, always!!

    xoxo CGF and Girlies 3

  7. Susan K says:


    Your point about how self-centered children are might have another, as yet unvoiced, consequence. Not that this was their fault. But that they might be next. Yes, it is no one’s fault. And yes, it just ‘happened’. But I have learned that to the young brain that means that THEY could get it.

    My father-in-law died of pancreatic cancer nearly a year ago. Our then six year old saw him not far from the end, incredibly yellow because his liver had basically shut down. So we talked about jaundice and we talked about cancer. And we still talk about cancer, a year later. And, with typical childhood self-centeredness she is worried that SHE might get cancer. Get the cancer that took her grandfather and made him yellow. Get the cancer that they talk about in school before the St Jude bike-a-thon. Get the cancer that takes the hair of the young children she just gave her hair to help.

    So in your conversations to soothe and settle and deflect worries of blame, look for hints of this other fear. You certainly don’t want to put the idea into their head. But it might be there, lurking, and you can tease it out, and voice it, and dispel that fear too. Because you have shown time and again that you are a great mother and seem to be very good at finding the words to say.

    And GONE is certainly what we are all hoping for!

  8. mayberry says:

    Praying for “gone baby gone” here too. What a relief to be done with radiation!

  9. Procrastamom says:

    Pumping fist in the air for last radiation treatment today and wishing/hoping/concentrating really hard for cancer GONE!

  10. Beth_C says:

    I’m praying that it’s gone too!

  11. Sarah S. says:

    Gone gone gone! Lots of prayers headed your way!

    I am so glad radiation is over 🙂 I hope you will enjoy some quiet mornings at home this week.

  12. Mary Jo says:

    Please keep sharing your journey. I just found your blog and plan to follow you on your path wherever it leads.
    Sending good thoughts your way,
    Mary Jo

  13. Mummycha says:

    Hi Susan, Sorry I have not been writing much recently, but you have been on my mind as it has always been the case since I found your website five months ago.
    Last day of radiation: that’s the greatest news! I hope the sucker is gone, gone, GONE!
    Best Wishes

  14. Congratulations on your last radiation treatment!!
    Put a fork in … are done.

    I hope you don’t experience too much scanxiety. It sure sounds like you didn’t mess around with treatment and the beast should be good and gone.

    Wishing you healing and laughter,


  15. I’m really glad you’re finished the radiation, and praying with so many others that “gone” will be the word. My heart does go out to the little ones trying to make sense of all of that’s going on. Your explanations are so loving and so true in the simplest way, they must be really reassuring.

  16. Stimey says:

    Congratulations on being done!! My fingers and toes are crossed for gone too!

    And I think the fact that your little guys have been so happy and wonderful through the past year is a wonderful testament to you and WonderDaddy. You’ve done an amazing job with them throughout this whole thing.

  17. uurchin says:

    We’re all praying for gone.

  18. Susan says:

    Congrats on the last rad. treatment! Next order of business: rest and heal. Thank you for sharing your journey so far. I look forward to reading more!

  19. Becky says:

    pryaing hard for gone, gone GONE!!!

  20. Joanna says:

    Constantly praying for your full recovery and never-ending remission, WM. You are a wonderful mama – a wonderful woman.

  21. erica says:

    praying praying praying with you.

  22. MammaLoves says:

    Buh-bye radiation. Don’t let the door hit ya where the dog bit ya.

    Good riddance.

    Can’t wait to celebrate again with you soon.

  23. Ally says:

    I’m praying for gone, too. And prayers of thanksgiving for this, your last day of radiation. xoxo

  24. ruth Graham says:

    Going, Going, GONE!!! Out of here!!! Praying for better days in your future!


  25. clifford says:

    (in best Jim Ellis voice)

    There’s a DRIVE…

    …deep to left centerrr…

    …centerfielder still backpedaling…

    …at the Dudy Noble signnnnn…


    [audio src="" /]

  26. clairej says:

    gone gone gone gone oh so hoping for gone.
    and the beginning days of that upward curve.
    p.s. my daughter blamed her little brother instead – his birth was a month or so before my diagnosis and it was all too ‘together’ in her mind. that took time to find, never mind to deal with …

  27. Bubba's Sis says:

    Praying here, too – as always!

  28. Dawn says:

    I have no doubt that you, as well as your family, will come out stronger – your sons will revel in the love & strength that you’ve given to them. You are such an awesome mom.

  29. So by the time I read this the ‘light shining’ will be over?

    That is wonderful!

    Don’t worry babe, I promise you your babies will not remember this time. I was 6 when my Daddy was sick and I remember very very little of it. And most of it was about me, the whole insular kid thing.

  30. christine says:

    gone, it HAH to be gone. i am thinking of you and your family. i know i haven’t been around much lately commenting, but i do think of you almost daily and reflect on the journey you are taking. it will all end well, believe it in your heart.


  31. NoRegrets says:

    By the way, when you have 18 min to watch a video, I think you would like this:

  32. Lauren says:

    I pray it is gone.

    I thought about you the other day when I heard a news report about the NASA Glenn center in Cleveland has reports of higher than normal cases of cancer and they are looking into why.

  33. Alice C says:

    I have often wondered if people who have been on a long and life threatening journey as you have been find it easy to let go when they reach the end. I imagine that you have discovered such extraordinary things about yourself that you are changed profoundly. I wish you peace and quiet to enjoy this new part of your life.

  34. Jacquie says:

    Your little guy is so sweet, he understands so much doesn’t he.

    Praying GONE is the word of the week also.

  35. Angela says:

    Watching this spot and hoping your next post is all about how it’s GONE! (Will you find out that fast?)

    I look forward to reading Toddler Planet years from now when you’re talking about Widget and Little Bear and their school-age antics. Hmm, wonder if you’ll have to rename it then. 😉

  36. NYfriend says:

    Very heart-touching. 🙂

    It was a blessing in disguise that Widget crashed into you. Two good things came of it – (1) some very important feelings and concerns were flushed out, discussed and after some good-for-you-both-to-let-it-out crying, put at ease. (2) it confirms for you that Widget does not have an omnipresent image of you being “injured” or “sick.” He *can* forget about the cancer and all it had done to you. And I know that means a lot to you, though your skin took a beating for it!

    The boys are so lucky to have such an observant, insightful and warm lovin’ mama!

  37. […] miles a day.  It seems unbelieveable that one, two, three, not even four weeks have passed since the last radiation treatment seared my skin with the promise that cancer cells will not be able to live there […]

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