This morning on the BBC breakfast news programme a mother was interviewed about her decision not to tell her thirteen-year-old daughter she had terminal skin cancer. She had been told that her daughter had six months to live - devastating information for anyone but to hear that for your child is the cruellest blow. The mother wanted life to continue as normally as possible for her family so she shared the diagnosis only with her own mother. Her daughter and son were able to continue their usual relationship and no concessions were made for the young girl's plight because no-one knew.
The daughter lived for almost four more years. When she was aware that her cancer had returned she wept with her mother and said, 'Mummy, I'm going to die'; her mother comforted and reassured her and a few weeks later her daughter died.
I think the mother made an extraordinarily brave and compassionate decision for the child she so dearly loved. She gave her a normal life. Shethought the diagnosis was a burden her daughter should not have been expected to bear; she could not have watched her marking off the days on the calendar if she had known the original projected time-scale.
Knowing that a person is desperately ill changes attitudes to them. This mother spared her daughter the awkwardness that family and friends often experience when they don't know how to react or what to say. I applaud her for her courage and steadfastness. I don't know whether I could be so brave in a similar situation.