When The Band Perry released this song it immediately became Teagan’s favorite. And she sang it over and over. She knows every word. Odd she can memorize song lyrics but not spelling words. I’m not a fan of this song – probably for obvious reasons. But the radio (not specifically that song) brings up the story of how you go from having a five-year old who knows she had a “bump” taken out of her head to having a six-year-old who suddenly understands what a brain tumor and cancer really is and that people, even kids, die from these things.
This started with the now famous “bump” in her head — “bump” probably not the best description I ever came up with but it was late at night and I couldn’t think of anything else to describe a tumor. Even through all the “pokey things” and “finger lights” and “buttons” and medicine that makes your hair fall out we never actually sat her down and said “Teagan you have a brain tumor which is considered cancer and there’s a possibility you can die from this.” I mean really… what parent would? Sure older kids have some sort of realization, even Dawson at nine was able to comprehend the severity of the situation but a 5-year-old just didn’t. This is where the “Good Parenting Book for Kids with Cancer” says you are supposed to be honest with your kids about their diagnosis and prognosis. I didn’t read that book, along with multiple other “Good Parenting” books. I should have read the book because, like always, when I don’t do something right the “what you should have done” comes and smacks me in the face.
Actually, it didn’t really smack me as much as it did Dave because this story happened directly to him and only indirectly to me. He and the kids were in the car and he had the radio on WZPL. Right after Thanksgiving WZPL hosts a radio-a-thon to raise money for Make A Wish kids. And if you want to sit and cry for 72 hours straight you really should tune in. They always have parents of previous Make A Wish kids telling their stories and most of them do not have happy endings. Dave was really listening intently to the stories and then a man told a story about his son who passed away from a brain tumor. Later that day Teagan asked him about the man on the radio. If I remember right it went something like this:
“Daddy you know that guy on the radio today who said his son died?”
“His son had a brain tumor?” (it was about half question/half statement)
“Yes he did.”
“His son died.” (again about half question/half statement)
“Yes he did.”
“But I had a brain tumor…”
The realization had hit her. Suddenly not all kids who had “bumps” lived. Up to that point she didn’t know any different. The only other girl she knew with a brain tumor was also alive and like her going through treatment. And the teen age girl who had passed away from her brain tumor while we were in treatment – she didn’t ever see or talk to. That’s a lot to process at age 6. And I’m sure as parents we didn’t handle it right. We never really gave her any percentages or statistics, and quite frankly no doctors had ever really given us those numbers either. We just told her that she was way ahead of the curve because her tumor was able to be removed and that the medicine that made her hair fall out was helping make sure it didn’t come back. We told her some kids couldn’t have their tumors removed and those tumors wouldn’t go away even with the medicine and that was probably what happened to the boy on the radio.
She accepted the answers we gave her. And she went on about life like she always had. Every so often, usually when she was tired, she might bring up the subject of death. So I know it’s there buried in the back of her head. That’s where my thoughts on the subject are too. Recently several family members have been diagnosed with cancer and when the subject comes up you can see the thoughts and realizations for her come to the surface. And she was very upset by her great grandmother’s passing from cancer this past winter. She handles things pretty well though for a 10-year-old.
So why does she love the song? I have no idea…… the whole theme is about a girl – probably a teenager – who dies. I mean it’s a catchy tune and sometimes with catchy tunes you don’t always “hear” the lyrics. But I think she knows what they mean. Maybe it’s just her way of letting out some of those bad thoughts buried in the back of her mind.
Maybe I should start singing the song too.