I’m amazed at how many different emotions surface when I’m not even the one who has cancer. When my sister was first diagnosed with cervical cancer I avoided it completely. Her treatment plan at that time made my reaction easier. It’s easy to avoid the fact that your sister has cancer when her treatment plan consisted of surgery and potentially small amounts of chemo, which she didn't end up needing at that time. From the outside looking in, the treatment didn’t seem to affect her body.
The second time she was diagnosed I was scared. This time it was in more areas of her body and she fought the cancer more aggressively, which in return made her lose her hair. She was sick and hospitalized after her chemo treatments; she opened up about not being able to eat, and about how physically drained she felt. She also had radiation this time. All of these terms that you hear were now a part of Erica’s treatment plan…the cancer was “actually there” this time, and it was hurting my sister.
The third time my sister was diagnosed with cancer I was MAD. I’m not sure who exactly my anger was directed toward. At times it was directed toward God, and then redirected toward Satan. Sometimes it was directed toward the cancer itself, other times I let my anger be directed toward my sister. How in the world would she choose to not get a hysterectomy when she was first diagnosed? Why is she choosing to not fight it aggressively this time? What….we’re just going to “live with cancer” now? My sister’s answers to these questions made me mad, not because she’s choosing the wrong answer, but because I don’t want the cancer to take my sister away from me.
My sister’s third diagnosis seems like a thing of the past, like we’ve moved on from it. The anger is gone, the sadness is gone (mostly…I’m a cryer and my sister has cancer, so I cry.) I’m no longer avoiding the fact that she has cancer; it’s more like I’m accepting it. I’ve learned to accept the path that Erica’s taking and walk along it with her. I talk to my sister more and am more interested in her life now than I ever was when she didn’t have cancer; it should never take something so serious to give us the desire to strengthen a relationship. I love my sister deeply, and I honestly feel like I didn’t let that show until I was afraid of losing her. No sulking in the past though, we’re pressing on. From now on, my husband and I are here to help serve my sister in any way she needs, which most recently has been with assisting her in advocating and spreading awareness of cervical cancer. Advocating has helped to keep her grounded and focused.
She’s still getting Avastin treatments to keep the cancer where it is & prevent growth, I guess she always will until we get news of a miracle (Matthew 19:26, with God all things are possible) or the cancer decides to make her choose to fight aggressively again. Anything’s possible. Until then, Erica will continue to share her story as boldly as she can and frequent her Cancer Card, even when our younger sister and I veto it…hey, that thing has got to expire sometime! (laughter helps ☺)