Informing the children

IMG_1837When my mother had cancer it became central in my sisters life and I was determined that my cancer would not dominate my childrens lives. How I was going to do this I had no idea and decided I would wait until I had the results of the tests before telling the children anything.

It was Sunday evening, I arrived home after my hypnotherapy session with Julie and Janette was getting children ready for bed. I was feeling so much better in myself and relaxed as I had been thinking of Popey stories on the way home. This would be a good way of breaking it to the children and I would see what was on U Tube. When you have children things never turn out as planned.

I was reading a bed time story to the children and Isabelle noticed I was wearing my grannies medal and she asked why?. Taken  aback, I blurted out that I was not well and would be going into hospital soon for an operation and I wanted everyone I loved close to me. Are you going to die Molly asked?

Two days before I had taken them to my good friend and mentor Professor Theo MacDonalds eco funeral, a true celebration of Theo’s extraordinary life and they had enjoyed the day.  However I was taken a back by the bluntness of Mollys question and amused, then again she is a Lanigan. “I hope not” ; I answered, but “everyone is going to die  sometime” was my response. Isabelle became quiet excited “who could we invite to Daddys funeral and the proceeded to compile their guest list; Sean, Dan, Frederik, Nan, Grandad Colin, Grand Dad Peter. Perhaps not he has cancer and might be dead by then Molly noted ( my dad would die later in the year in October). Janette walked in horrified at what she was hearing and I could only laugh.

Before going to sleep, Molly asked  (as some months previously I had promised Isabella my Grannies medal when I died) if she could she have my “Grumpy Old Man” mug if I died. I repeated I was not planning on dying but if it did happen I would be delighted for her to have my mug. After turning the lights out Eloise (aged 5) came out of the bedroom to ask if she could have my laptop if I died. She was very excited about this turn in events she would have a lap top and approached Janette next day, with her plan for Frederik to come home permanently to take my place. Molly and Isabelle thought it was a great idea to have Frederik become their new Daddy however they were not happy with Eloise getting a laptop when they were only getting a medal and a mug. Janette said I better talk to them.

Fortunately they decided they  would rather have me alive and well than  have a laptop, however I think a DS could persuade Eloise otherwise. These conversations were of great comfort, the kids were my greatest worry and if the worst happened it would not be easy for them, the would be prepared and I would see what I could do to remained part of their lives in the worst case scenario.

Telling Frederik was hard and was one of only two occasions when I have cried during this the other was the last episode of the Big C series 1 which is for another blog posting. Frederik is 24 and his 15 year old sister has Leukaemia so its been a hard year from him. . I dont remember what I said, the word tumor came out and I started blubbing, he probably would not have believed me without the tears. He was very strong and I felt proud and knew he would be there for the girls were I to die and would be a great big brother father figure to them, that was the last time I worried about dying.

I write this post on June 12th  three months after this event and looking back now I can say I have not laughed as much as I have in April, May and June, in many years. I am very lucky to have the family and friends that I have. I dont fear death or whoever the future holds getting old is a privilege and as a society we should look after those that achieve it. Its not quantity of life thats important its quality of that life.

About Richard Lanigan

Born 1957, have 4 children. Was diagnosed with stage three rectal cancer in March 2011.
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