At first it would take me unawares.
A mom would sidle up to me. It would typically happen at a birthday party for a child that did not have cancer. Or somewhere else where kids and parents would gather.
Most commonly it would be a friend of a friend. The conversation would start normally enough. The mom would say they were sorry about what we were going through. She might ask how Jacob was doing. This would be fine because in spite of everything Jacob was more often than not doing better than expected.
Then the conversation would take a subtle turn.
The questions would start. At first it seemed like regular mommy comparison conversation. Then, slowly it dawned on me. I was being interviewed to see if I did anything wrong to cause the cancer. The other mom wanted to make sure the same thing didn't happen to her child. She was hoping that I made a mistake with Jacob.
The first couple of times I was patient. I felt sorry for this clueless, worried individual. I reassured the other mom. I told her Jacob's type of cancer was extremely rare. Only a few children in the entire world get it, I would say.
The most common question was if Jacob ate hotdogs. When I was in a telephone support group for mothers of kids with cancer, the other moms mentioned that they too been asked the same question.
I stopped wanting to use any energy up with the worried moms whose kids were healthy.
So I started simplifying my response. No he did not eat hotdogs. We fed him organic food. And if I were feeling extra ambitious I would mention that Jacob was exclusively breastfed as a baby. That was in case the mom doing the questioning was also from the Breastfeeding Mafia.
I wrote Hotdogs during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in 2013 and posted it on Facebook. At that time, several moms of children with cancer shared that they too had been asked about hotdogs after their child was diagnosed.