They noticed immediately. At the train station one of the twins started weeping because my hair looked 'like an old person's '. The other pointed out the bald patch just by my parting and my eldest, trying to be diplomatic said that she thought it was 'different'. They are so wonderful, so very brave and true. I told them last night. I gave them supper, and then whilst we were sitting in front of the television, they asked me to put on the Nintendo. It was whilst I was bending down that twin number 1 said, you really are going bald Mummy, and I knew. I knew then that if we continued on, I was going to lie to them and I didn't want to do that. Yes, I had fudged it at the train station but I didn't want them feeling uncomfortable about their anger and their grief in the middle of rush hour in a draughty, busy rail station in the centre of London.
So I sat them down and told them. I told them I had cancer, that breast cancer in general and my cancer in particular is curable. I told them that there was no guarantee I could give them that I would live but the current situation was that the doctor was going to cure me and if that changed, I would tell them. I told them that I was going to lose my hair, be very tired, and feel sick and they could do things to help. I told them that there was no reason for this cancer, that it wasn't because of diet, smoking or anything else, just luck bad or otherwise. I told them that it was absolutely nothing to do with them that I had cancer. I told them that if I wasn't around, then they would always be looked after and loved by their father and step-mother as well as my family. I told them that it was an incredibly scary idea to come to terms with and that we must share all our fears, that it wasn't to be hidden, unless they wanted it to be and they could tell anyone they liked.
They wept, and as they did, I urged them to express their fears. One said that she would be embarrassed to see me bald, one that Christmas would never be the same, that I would die, that I would look odd and wierd one breasted, that all their friends would notice... And one by one, we went through each fear, we pegged each frightening idea out on the floor in front of us, pinned it down and examined it in detail. We agreed that losing hair was scary, that having a bald mother would be wierd, we played with the hats and decided to call the wig, 'Wiggy'. They agreed that the thought of losing a mother was scary but that being lied to was worse.
We laughed, we cried, and we held each other.
Tonight, before bed, my children said to me, 'Cancer isn't such a scary word now'.
I am a very lucky mother....