What do I tell my son about his Grandmother's Cancer?
by Billy V
posted Mar 30 2009 11:50AM
Just the other night I was out at the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, put on by the UH Students up at the University of Hawaii Manoa Campus. Every year they work hard to raise funds because they believe in the search for the cure for cancer, and they know that funds are needed for support and research.
I've emceed the last 4 years prior to this year in the name of a friend of mine's mom. Well kind of like that. More like I have hanai family on the Island of Lanai, and Meilianne Aki has been an incredible friend more like close cousin and sister to me for years. I knew her when I emceed her daughter Mariah's first birthday. Her ex was my classmate. She was also the head of activities for the Island of Lana'i that was connected to having a Drug Free Lanai. So I was on the island at elast 2-3 times a year. Her family adopted me, and so anytime I was on the Island, they always said "Welcome Home!". I loved the days going and riding ATV or riding horse pushing cattle; or giong out to mend fences. I miss those days.
I was also close to Meilianne's Mom. Nana (naah-nuh) and I would talk often, and she would always be interested in what I was up to, telling me how she did in her past, that she was often proud of whatever I was doing, or what she saw me doing last from TV or Radio.
She passed away several years ago from cancer fighting it from the time she was diagnosed with it. She was a fighter that one. She was beating it, but it came back and got her. I would walk for her when she was alive, I would walk for her after she passed on.
But this year was different. My mother in law from Japan is very close to my son. Both Grandma's are; but my son Leion spent a lot of time with her in Japan when he was young. She was his best friend, doing whatever he was doing, and they would laugh and laugh, play and play. She is his everything.
Last year she was diagnosed with cancer. She had to have her kidney removed. After her surgery, the doctors told her she could get up and start walking around, in fact, they recommended it because it would help in the healing process. But she wanted to just lay there in bed. She was emotionally and psychologically drained. She wanted to just lay in bed and do nothing. She felt that she was just waiting for the inevitable. She would complain that she felt not everything was done, and there was probably still more to go. The doctors tried to coax her out of bed. My wife and her sister tried the same thing. She wouldn't budge. My wife called me to cry over the phone 'cause she couldn't figure out what to do.
I told her that our son has to visit her. I told her to prep Leion for what the doctor said about her getting up and getting around. Sure enough when my son visited and he told Nana, "Nana, please get up...I want to walk with you. Can you get up out of bed so we can walk together?"
:) That was all the prompting that was needed. Next thing you know whs's walking around really pushing herself to get better. We told her in advance that we were going to bring Leion afer school; she was waiting and had warmed up a little bit before Leion got there. He is the reason she got up and started her comeback.
Move forward to Relay night. My mother-in-law doesn't understand English, and in what limited English I tried to tell her what the event was about, and why I was there. I arrived just before Luminaria Ceremony where the lights go down except where the bags are lighted around the track. At the end of the ceremony they ask the survivors to lead a lap around the TC Ching complex. My mother-in-law being a survivor (after I prompted her) started their lap around the track.
During the walk around, my son started firing off lots questions. What is cancer. Why is everybody walking? What is the money for? Does Nana have the kind of cancer the event is for? Is Nana going to die from cancer? Does the money help Nana too?' I looked into my son's eyes and found it hard to stop from tearing. How do I explain to my son that cancer might take his best friend? Whew....tough one...I just told him, "Yes it does...go walk with Nana." Off he went. Whew...dodged that one...but I'll have to talk to him later when it comes up again.
Stayed up all night with the crew, worked with KTUH as they kept the music flowing with the 80's theme (which was killing me...that was all my high school music!); there was the highlight of the evening which was the Dodgeball Tournament...everyone made teams of their choosing (any affiliation, anybody, need not be a group team to play); it was a fun filled, tiring and emotional night. I encourage everyone to get tested, or let someone you know you care enough to be tested. I look forward to the day we no longer have to do a Relay for Life because the cure has been found.