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  • Nathira Salim

My son

The first thing many mothers think of when they are diagnosed with cancer ( any form), is of their children first. This is especially true if they have small children , young as 12 and below would be the right age. They fret and worry about the future these kids would have without a mother. How would these little innocent lambs survive in the cold harsh world without their mothers? Just thinking about them motherless would have any woman with cancer bawling her eyes out. Because of this mental image these ladies with cancer have about their mother less children - many take control of their health and cancer and many eventually survive it.


But there are some oddballs like me. I did not think of my one and only child when I was diagnosed with stage 2 cancer. I was sure he will be ok. My son is not an emo kid. He's strong. Too strong, that I suspect he lacks empathy at most. One of the reasons I didn't want to go ahead with my chemo plan was that I didn't want to go through pain to come out to live with an ungrateful kid and the same old routine life. I was not ready to come back to live the same old life. I wanted out. In fact if its the way to go - I don't want to fight.


As part of cancer treatment, patients are offered free counselling session at the oncology department in NCC. The senior nurse had asked a couple of questions if we were interested in some form of counselling to go though this new hard phase during my first visit to NCC last week. After finding out that we have a tween son, she has asked if we were interested in getting him counselled - after all kids are usually the ones hit hard. I was doubtful if son needed any form of counselling - but hubby suggested why not? So we signed our son up for counselling.


And today - me and son went for the very first session. I didn't exactly tell him why he was there for, just told him that the doc wanted to see my son. He's still gullible enough to believe me ( for now).


The doc, a Dr Brandon - a nice looking warm Chinese guy welcomed us to his small windowless room. If you were expecting the very expensive couch lying therapy - nope. This is free. So a small room with 2 chairs was more than enough. He started with me - asking son to be out for a while. He asked me if I was ok.


I didn't tell him that I was worried about chemo. I didn't tell him about the pain of putting my dreams of having more kids to rest deep in the recess of my heart. I didn't tell him about my lack of interest in my life. I didn't tell him that I feel restrained, upset and hurt that my own cells have rebelled. I told him I was ok and holding it up well. I don't think he believed me for I saw a rather sad look in his eyes.


I told him that I was there for the son. In summary I explained that I feel the son lacked empathy. I am not sure if he understand the brevity of my situation. He seems ok about the whole thing. I was thinking perhaps he's been in the denial mode about my mortality.


Then I had to leave and get the son to talk to the doc. I must have been out waiting for around 10-15 minutes. When I came back to the room - I was sure I heard the doc sniffle. The doc said my son is the very matured for his age and that I have been worried sick for nothing. In short - the son is aware of my mortality. He's also aware that what I have is nothing to be worried about. He thought that my cancer was a low grade one and its something that will be over and done with. It is not something that I may die of. So he didn't worry. If it was Stage 3 and above, he said he would have gone into panic mode because he does not want to be left alone with his dad. What he wants is a dad who would spend more time with him and a mother who has no cancer.


I was surprised. I realised my son needs me. Not because of his irritation with his dad. In essence, he needs me by his side. I am the one he talks to when he's back home from school. I am the one he plays with, watches his anime with and have lunch with. I am the one who walks with him after his classes and I am the one who have lunch dates with him when school ends. He's the one who understands which BTS member I have bias with. He would buy me BTS related merchandise ( from my own money.)


The doc said my boy made him tear up when he talked about me. He did in fact shed a tear. The first time a counselling doc was shedding a tear. He was amazed at the way the son articulated to him. He was confident about his future and how he would handle the crisis we were going through. My son needs to think how to work out things with his father so that the constraints between them would loosen.


I came to understand in this session that I am needed by my son. I can't leave him alone just like that. But would this reason be enough to keep me wanting to stay back?




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