Cancer through the Eyes of my Sister
We made it to Arizona in one piece and with only a few minor setbacks on Thursday and have been unpacking and settling in since. We’ll be getting internet installed tomorrow and I’m so excited to be able to get back to blogging. Today, my youngest sister, Katie, who has guest posted here before, is taking over again. A couple weeks ago, when I wrote this post about survivor’s guilt, Katie and I got to talking about how my cancer had affected her (she was 10 when I was diagnosed). We had a very long and beautiful heart-to-heart and I felt like the things she had to say were so important that I asked her to share them here. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month and while it is important to raise awareness about pediatric cancer, it is also important to understand and raise awareness on how cancer affects siblings.
I know Chelsie has shared her cancer story, and I hope it has inspired and touched the hearts of many people as it has mine. But I am going to tell my side of the story, and the lessons I learned from my sister having cancer.
An average 10 year old usually has to worry about getting through the 4th grade, learning cursive, and memorizing their times table. But when I was 10, I ended up worrying about a lot more. I worried about having macaroni and cheese for the 7th night in a row, asking my parents for money for field trips or school lunches, trying to keep my family happy, and my sister dying.
I never really knew what cancer truly was, or the power it had. I had heard it used here and there, but I didn’t understand the severity of it until I was impacted by it directly. At first I was scared, and just wanted to do everything I could to help. But that changed rather quickly. I started to see my sister receive gifts from others like an iPod, a laptop, free clothes, stuffed animals, food, etc. She got to do anything she wanted within her circumstances, and through my eyes she got everything she asked for. After these things started to happen, I got mad and extremely jealous that she had cancer.
At times I wished that it were me that had the cancer, only because I wanted the free gifts. What ten year old doesn’t want a new laptop, clothes, or an iPod? Throughout the early stages of her treatment, I continuously got angry with my parents, others, and especially her because of the “special treatment” she appeared to be getting.
9 years later, I now look back with extreme guilt and sadness. But after a lot of contemplation, apologizing, and remorse, here is what I learned.
-I learned that it was okay to be angry and jealous at the time. I was only 10 years old, and didn’t fully understand what was happening.
-I learned to not wish cancer on anyone or myself. After seeing what she and many other cancer patients went through, I would never wish cancer on my worse enemy.
-I learned to let people help. The amount of meals that were stacked in our refrigerator was insane, but was a great help when my dad didn’t have time to cook.
-I learned to be a support for my sister. I remember whenever she had at-home treatments, I would always be there to hold her hand as they stuck her with needles.
-I learned that she would one day become my one of my best friends. I depend on Chelsie so much, and don’t know where I would be if she lost her battle to cancer.
Often, I still feel a lot of guilt for the feelings and thoughts that I had when I was younger, but I’m learning and growing from them. It’s okay to feel in these types of situations, but don’t let it overwhelm you. I’ve learned to always acknowledge those feelings, and not let them control my future.
Love you, Boo. Thanks for being a great and brave sister and a wonderful friend.
Do you know someone who has fought cancer? What lessons did you learn from watching that battle?