Nope … we are not talking about it. “The pain of the subject cuts too deep and you are not old enough to understand that your sister has CANCER” said our mother.
“Death, the end of life, the end of a sisterhood will be final.” Those were my very thoughts when I was told my sister had breast cancer. I had seen the commercials, the Susan G. Komen advertisements, and I knew October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month but no way could this be my reality.
This doesn’t and can’t be happening to my sister. After all, no one in our family had been affected with the “life ending” disease. My fashionable, witty sister would lose hair and weight from the chemo. Would she become sicker? “Cancer” – that ugly, heart piercing word gave me no hope for my sister. She lived so far away from family. Who would hold her hand during treatments, who would tell her she was still beautiful, who would keep her in high spirits when she is the one graciously uplifting others?
Feeling clueless and helpless, I had no idea of her lonely journey without her sisters or our mother by her side. The phone calls were short, and I was told I could not speak to her. I wanted her home with me, cuddling, shopping, and painting each one of her toenails a different color because that is what a big sister allows her baby sister to do. I wanted her laying in my lap brushing her hair. But that would not happen.
I didn’t know how to feel, as this feeling was a past feeling when I was “too young” to understand how sick my dad was before walking into the room with the visual of my dad laid out, cold to the touch, and GONE. A familiar feeling I NEVER wanted to relive again.
Time heals everything!
One open invitation to Thanksgiving would give me the peace I needed. She called with excitement in her voice to discuss the itinerary and plans of fun for the family. This phone call would be the beginning of my healing of the unknown with her diagnosis. She asked me to go with her to a follow up appointment.
I walked through her huge front door, greeted by a shocking sight. She looked the same; she actually was glowing. How could she be glowing with this diagnosis? She was her usual self, witty and welcoming. I was confused yet relieved simultaneously.
My thoughts, “I just need to get to this appointment and hear the doctor say, she will LIVE.”
Walking with my sister to her appointment continued my healing process. We continued our walk into her room while she was presented with a paper gown and told to take her shirt and bra off. The next sight would be unexpected … she had breasts … and nice ones too. After undergoing reconstructive surgery, her dream of having larger breasts was a reality, although the road to them was a bumpy one that left her with unwanted scars.
Her beautiful breasts were scarred from the surgery and tubes, yet she had the biggest smile on her face. She looked at me and asked “What’s wrong?” Speechless, I could not find the words to explain how I thought she would die, have her breasts cut off, and be alone. The doctor’s words of her great health helped ease my thoughts of cancer being “life ending.”
Being her big sister self, she reassures me daily that she is very much ALIVE and her SCARS reminds her of her journey and gives her HOPE. She tells me her husband was there holding her hand through it all. She adds in a comical tone “Don’t worry about my hair girl; you know we can buy hair.”
“I am not shamed of my scars, I embrace them, the cancer didn’t win, I won and got some really nice boobs out of it.”