The communication process about Lucia’s cancer

We waited about ten days before we told the children about Lucia’s cancer. We wanted to get as much information as possible so we could answer their questions and walk them through the process. This also gave us time to pray, cry, and play sappy love songs. I can’t really explain that last one, except to say our marriage has been magical. We love to get lost in sappy love songs. It’s not curable.

After we were sufficiently recovered from the many meetings and had enough information in hand, we told the children what was going on. Our favorite family talking spot is our bed. We gathered, and there was really no good way to say your mother has cancer, so I just said it and then let silence fill the room for a few seconds.

Ansa (10) silently cried. Tristen (15) internalized the news. Haydn (13) nervously laughed/joked. They responded as expected, according to their personalities. Tristen said she knew the dream could not last forever, which is her way of describing her family life. She has been clear that she does not want to grow old. She likes things just as they are. Needless to say, this is a major dream-disrupter.

We had a good talk that night, and we have followed up each day, several times during the days–all together and individually, both of us talking to them individually.

They have done well, though they do not understand all that it means. We also have not talked about the full extent of the surgery because we want to guard their minds against running down some bad trails. The LORD’s grace has been appropriated through this and they are doing better than expected, which is a mercy.

As far as our thoughts? We have gone down a few of those trails too. We are checking on each other throughout the day, in random ways, depending on a phone call or new information. It’s constant and random soul surveillance.

We also have been more tired than usual. The information comes in waves. It’s more like “trauma waves” as Lucia has called it. You don’t feel it in the moment but after another difficult conversation with another doctor, about an hour later, you feel tired. We have been taking a lot of naps.

We decided to not tell anyone about this until (1) we had enough information and (2) our children were sufficiently through what they needed to get through. We decided this weekend (November 19) would be when we told folks. There were six specific families we wanted to talk to face-to-face, (and four phone calls) so we spent all of Saturday going from house to house, meeting with these families to talk through the news.

To say that was exhausting is an understatement. We did not make it through all the families because some of them took longer than expected. One of those families was Lucia’s parents. They are 93 (dad) and 83 (mom) years old. One sister happened to come over, which was great. We expected to call all three sisters.

Lucia called her other two sisters Saturday night. The other two-of-six families we did not get a chance to meet with on Saturday. We met them today after the church meeting. I texted them yesterday, asking if we could chat after the meeting.

Everyone was phenomenal. No surprise. Lots of tears, hugs, encouragement, and prayers. Lucia called one more friend Sunday afternoon, and she called her lifelong best girlfriend, who lives in Kansas Friday. I did let two board members know last Tuesday, though I asked them to not let anyone know until after this weekend.

We did not want the word to get back to her parents before we could tell them face to face. We also did not want these six families to find out through email. It seemed wrong to not meet them face to face. We’re exhausted from this but it was the right thing to do. It’s another one of those “trauma waves” that comes over you.

There will be more waves. There will be more grace.

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About RickThomasNet

Rick Thomas leads a training network for Christians to assist them in becoming more effective soul care providers. RickThomas.Net reaches people around the world through consulting, training, podcasting, writing, counseling, and speaking. In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology, and 1991 he received a BS in Education. In 1993 he was ordained into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, CA. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).