A Letter To My 5 Year-Old Daughter

Gracie 4

Dear Little One,

Tonight you broke my heart. You’re so little, so innocent, and yet you amaze me with your wisdom . I never know how much to tell you about my breast cancer. I don’t want to scare you, but I don’t ever want you to feel like I’m lying to you.

I’ve tried really hard to keep this from affecting you, and I thought I was doing a pretty good job. I’ve kept up with doing all the things Mommies do, even though I’m a little tired from treatment sometimes. I cook your dinner and give you your bath and read your bedtime story. We still play “Just Dance” together and hide-and-go-seek. We paint our nails and shop ’til we drop. And I really try to listen to you and laugh with you and just soak it all in.

Your reactions really surprise me sometimes, like the way you hate my wig. Every time I put it on, you get mad and yell, “Take off that hat!”. I finally asked you the other day why the wig made you so upset. Your answer was beautiful in its simplicity, “Because it’s not you.” Of course not. You could sense that I felt like a fraud with it on; I just needed you to say it out loud.

Your imagination captivates me. I’ll never know where you come up with the things you do, but I envy your unbridled enthusiasm for life. To you, it makes perfect sense to wear a princess dress with clown pants and a tiara while holding a light saber. “Can kill girls wear pink?” you ask . It took me a while to figure out that kill girls are the equivalent of “bad guys”, but we worked it out.

I know that you’ve been acting out a little this summer, understandably. But I thought that it was just your way of dealing with stress that you can’t really put into words. Doctor’s appointments, medicine that makes Mommy sick, hair falling out….it’s a lot to take for a little girl, even though Mommy smiles through it all and says it’s going to be ok. You’re so much smarter than I gave you credit for.

I never realized how smart you are until you turned to me at dinner tonight with a worried look and said, “Mommy, how many more days do you have to be alive?” My heart sank. This has been weighing heavy on your mind, my poor sweet baby girl. You’re worried about losing me. I suddenly wished that your were a little smaller, a little less wise.

You don’t know this, but you saved my life. When I lost your brother four days before you were born, it might have been a very different world for me had you not come along. Holding your chubby pink body and inhaling your sweet smell sustained me and gave me courage. I almost lost you, but you held on. It was as if someone were watching and knew that I was going to need you.

And now you need me. You need things to go back to normal. You need to think about starting Kindergarten and making friends and having wonderful adventures. I want you to know that I’m going to be right here for all of it, holding your hand and watching you grow. And I promise not to wear my wig…too often.




17 thoughts on “A Letter To My 5 Year-Old Daughter

  1. This is such a beautiful letter filled with love and kindness. Our children know so much more than we realise. They may not have the vocabulary we do but they’re so intuitive and perceptive. I wish you both a bright future, the kind where wearing clown pants, tiaras and princess dresses is the only challenge you have to face. Sending strength and love.

  2. This is so beautiful, I almost can’t stand it. Your daughter will treasure it, I know, just as I treasure every piece of my dad’s writings to me, and all the cartoons and paintings he left, just for me. I feel him in every one of them.
    Please remember that in a bunch of studies stage III shows better survival than stage II. Maybe it’s more thoroughly diagnosed, maybe the treatments offered work better. Who the heck knows. I know there is life in your writing and you’re not nearly done yet. Gosh, I hope I haven’t said too much.

    • Thank you:) I really appreciate your comments about your Dad. I’m not nearly ready to go yet; I think I’ve just been feeling a little down lately. These treatments do drag on and wear you out little by little. And the hot flashes and sleepless nights certainly don’t help. I’m just ready to have my body back. Don’t ever worry about saying too much; I’m an open book!

      • I sure know about the feeling down part and the dragging out part, and since I’m menopausal for only about a year (on my own, not because of treatments), have vivid memories of hot flashes and night sweats (mine started early–at 36–and ended just recently). I’m interested in the test you mentioned for how useful Tamoxifen might be for different individuals. I know it can be made less so by use of the usual antidepressants that help reduce vasomotor symptoms, but didn’t know about a test. Do you know the name I might ask about?

    • Thank you, bubbula. Sorry to make you weepy. I seem to have some sad posts in me lately. Damn hot flashes and hormonal mood swings! I need some estrogen. How are you doing?

  3. Thanks for the info about the test. I suspect that’s why my doc told me that if I tolerated Tamoxifen he’d only have me on it for 18 mos–it would obviate the worry about whether or not I’m a “responder,” and he wants to get further out from my new-ish menopausal state, as he says it’s dangerous to use aromatase inhibitors in the newly menopausal–like pouring gas on fire–to a young endometrium. Then we end up with uterine CA…Gawd. I’m BRCA 1&2 negative, but thinking more and more about just having the ovaries out…Surgery’s such an everyday thing for me in my world, while these hormone-slaying drugs give me the willies…
    Again, thanks for the info. I’ll be having another chat with him, as he’s certainly approachable.

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