Telling Zoe her cancer is back

Yesterday Zoe became very quiet, withdrawn and scared. She was overwhelmed with all the attention and didn’t want to talk to anyone in the family or have anyone around.

I had a really good talk to the child psychotherapist on the palliative care team after reading through the notes I put on http://www.touchpoint.org.nz from a presentation she had given.
One of the key things she said is that for a child, a sad truth is better than a mis-truth.

So last night Stu and I took a very deep breath and did the hardest thing we have done so far I think. 
We asked Zoe if she knew why she had gone to hospital. She said she didn’t. So we told her that her cancer had come back and that the doctors were doing their very best to make it better. We said that they knew that she would feel better at home, so they had sent all the medicine home with us and that the cancer was hurting her lungs, so that is why she needed the oxygen to breathe.
We explained that was the reason lots of people were visiting and sending flowers, because they were worried about her and cared about her.
We asked if she had any questions and for now she doesn’t, but her whole demeanour changed. Now she knows she can trust us to tell her the truth.
 
We said that lots of people had been sending presents if she wanted to open some. Yes she did! And she wanted everyone in the family to come and watch her open them! That’s me, Stu, Grandma, Nana, Kevin, Uncle Craig, Cousins Kaylee, Jesse, Samantha and Bianca.
We got the first present that was addressed to Princess Zoe. Stu asked if she was a princess. She said yes, a secret one. Only her parents know. And Kevin.
When she opened it, it was a Lego Friends horse float. She said “I bet that’s from Santa! He knows that’s what I wanted for Christmas!” Bex, you are Santa!
Then she opened the present from her Camp Quality Companion and very special friend Anna. It had some borrowed DVDs, some home baking and a beautiful flowered head piece. Zoe made everyone have a biscuit right there and then.
 
We were worried it was pain making her withdrawn, but it was worry. This morning she is a very happy little girl and we have a zoo visit arranged with all her cousins.
I cannot tell you how relieved I am.

Zoe-and-the-carousel

Zoe on the carousel in the atrium of Starship hospital – have oxygen, will travel.

 

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