The Cancer Journey of a Bereaved Sibling - Pt 2.0
Sorry it's been a while between posts. Life is crazy you know? I'm actually sitting in the CanTeen office in Sydney right now and thought "Better do it!".
Where were we? I'd just heard the news. The next few weeks felt like years. In and out of hospitals, only hearing snippets of the conversation. From what I heard I could kind of piece together that it was pretty serious and that Kailee (my sister) knew very little. I remember going in to visit her and she was so excited because mum had bought her a nintendo DS. Unbelievably, I was jealous. Why was she getting cool stuff? I suppose I just really didn't understand it at the time.
A few weeks after the initial diagnosis my Aunty sat me down and pretty much explained everything to me. Everyone was really positive about it and told me I had to be as well. Hang on a second? I'm supposed to be positive about the fact my sister has cancer? Is going to have to have poison pumped through her? What was there to be positive about? It became obvious early on that Kailee was on a need to know basis. My parents only told her the bare minimum so that she wouldn't be upset and more stressed out. But I think back and believe she knew more than we thought. Because she'd come out with some pretty adult comments that you'd stop and look at her and think "Did you really just say that?".
I admire her for her strength. Everyone says that, I know. Cliche. But I'm allowed. When we cut all of her hair off on her birthday she still managed to have a smile. She braved it through the chemotherapy, the radiotherapy, the biopsy, the nasogastric feeding tubes, when she vomited up the nasogastric feeding tubes and right until the end she was still giving us cheeky smiles. In saying that though there were times where she wasn't ok. Wasn't even close to ok. And for a 10 year old I still think she handled it really well.
Back to the whole being positive thing. I definitely recommend that to those of you have just been told your sibling has cancer. They feed off of you and your emotions a lot. Even though it might be hard to keep it together sometimes, do your best, for them. I remember having family photos done "before she looked too sick". And at the beginning of the photos we all look happy and normal. However if you looked close enough, you could see the white hospital arm band. Clearly not normal. As the photos progress you can see where I meltdown and was trying to be "positive for her". It was a bit of a shock: I'm sitting here taking family photos because there is a very real possibility my sister isn't going to be here in a few years, so we better do them now. It hit me pretty hard and I just couldn't stop crying. I remember Kailee patting my hand, "It's ok sissy". Yeah little one, you're right. It is ok.
For those of you have recently lost a sibling. It is 150% ok to not be positive, or happy. You be whatever you need to be when you need to be it. This is your grief. However, you aren't alone in your grief. CanTeen has counselling services available to you and they're located on this website. You don't have to come and see anyone, you can call, or email, or chat online. And they get it. They get that this is a horrible experience. So make sure you keep it in the back of your mind when it's all a bit too much.
My next post will be more on the cancer journey when we we're dealing with living away from each other a lot.
p.s. Here's a photo to show the cheeky smile she had.