In the midst of her thyroid diagnosis Brooke Burke-Charvet – a mother of four – has learned just how vulnerable children can be at such a time, and how differently each one can respond to that kind of stress and anxiety.
"I've really realized that everything I'm going through, my family is going through too," the Dancing with the Stars host, 41, writes in a new blog post.
Burke-Charvet decided initially not to reveal the diagnosis to daughters Neriah, 12, Sierra, 10, and Rain, 5, and son Shaya, 4. "I didn't want them to worry," she writes. "I know that my younger ones still don't have a great concept of time and I didn't want them to be anxious, worried and asking 1,000 questions."
Soon, the kids overheard things, and she and her husband David Charvet told them what was going on. Each child reacted differently, says Burke-Charvet – with emotions ranging from anger to fear to surprise, hope, protectiveness and worry.
The Children ReactShaya's reaction was the most heartbreaking. "He laid in bed last night with David, kinda sad and said, 'I don't want Mommy to die,' " Burke writes. "We both held him and told him that I wasn't going to leave him ever. I know that my surgery is not that serious, but kids get scared, hear 'hospital' and go to the darkest place. Poor little guy."
As she comforted each child in a different way, Burke-Charvet also cared for her husband as he was caring for her.
"He's been so strong and such a rock," she writes. "He's trying not to show any of his fears and concerns so that he can be strong for me. But we've had our moments and I think it's so, so important that you care for everyone in a family that's dealing with a medical crisis the same way you emotionally care for the patient themselves."
As the surgery approaches, she has packed her bag, sorted things out at the house and stocked the fridge with leftovers for the family. Now, she just wants the surgery to be over.
"I'm not afraid anymore," she says. "I think I've been dealing with it so much the past couple months that now I'm ready to just get it done and put this behind me. My only need is being ok for my husband and my children so they don't have to go through any pain and making this as easy as possible for them."