I have written a lot about my mom in my blog, so you all have an idea of what an amazing support and caregiver she is. I haven’t written much about one of the most amazing and supportive people in my life: my sister, Marie. Marie has a huge heart, is a loyal friend, and always has my back. She never acts like my illnesses are a burden. I can call her in tears and she will do her best to make me laugh – she is usually quite successful. She gives really good, realistic advice. She knows when things are tough and doesn’t try to make them better. She empathizes and lets me know she loves me and hopes things will get better.
Marie is a barber. One of the things she notices about people is usually their hair. She has an eye for a good cut and knows how to make people look classy. We have always bonded when I am in her chair and spent the time laughing and sharing the latest stories of our lives. She is arguably more funny than I am – which is a hard pill to swallow. She has a way of connecting with people in an honest, humorous way. She uses these qualities to support me in all areas of my life.
Going into my surgery, I didn’t know I had cancer. It was scary to go into the operating room not knowing what parts of me would be removed and what my diagnosis would be. The morning of my surgery, my sister supported me in a way only she could; she made sure I had hair that would survive a few days in the hospital. Hours before, we sat together, both feeling a little anxious, while she braided my hair and reminded me that no matter what, everything was going to be fine. We have been through a lot together and we were going to get through whatever challenge I was about to face.
Let’s face it, cancer is a bummer. When I was first diagnosed, I set to work discovering what parts about it could be fun. When I learned I would be having chemotherapy, I was actually excited I was going to lose my hair. I knew the best way my sister could join me on my journey was to give me cute, outrageous haircuts before I lost all of it. The best part was I could get more than one haircut and it didn’t matter how short it was. Trust me, this is very freeing and an excellent way to give up control and get comfortable with a new look. I love spending time with my sister and can only imagine how scary it must have been for her to find out I had cancer. I think it is much easier to be the patient than a caregiver. My sister was so strong when I was diagnosed. The first time she cut my hair was very emotional and therapeutic for her. Right then, she was part of what was happening was able to have a piece of control and a way to join in the fight.
Bonding over my many hairstyles was not the only way Marie supported me. We were fortunate enough to be able to spend a lot of time together. She came to a number of my chemo appointments. Those appointments took up the entire day, lasting about six hours each time. She sat there and did whatever I needed. Unfortunately, I can’t recall all the details of what we did thanks to the toll chemo took on my brain. I do remember how it made me feel to have her there with me, though.
I am extremely grateful and lucky to have such a kind, hilarious, and loving family. I never want to take advantage of the fact that it takes all of the individual family members to create a whole family. My sister plays her own unique roll and we would not be complete without her. Obviously, my sister and I disagree sometimes and get on each other’s nerves, but she was the first friend I had and I know she will be the first one to defend me, love me, and make me laugh through hard times.
Make sure you let the important people in your life know how much you love them and appreciate their support.