As I drove home on Tuesday night, I heard on the radio that Elizabeth Edwards lost her battle with cancer. Up until that point, I managed to remain strong through everything we were going through with my brother’s battle. The tears came and I think I spent the entire half hour ride home crying.
I never realized that the impact that cancer has on the entire family until it entered our lives. My sister’s Hodgkin’s disease diagnosis came almost three years ago and it was in an early stage. Plus, my sister lived overseas so we never really knew what she went through to get to remission. Her battle proved how strong she is but it also changed her because cancer does that.
Now cancer is again apart of our lives whether we want it there or not and this time it wants to make sure we stay down. It is a part of my mom’s life every minute of everyday because she won’t leave my brother’s side. It is a part of my life and my siblings’ life because if he hurts, we hurt too. It is apart of his young nephews and nieces’ lives because they miss him terribly and they have so many questions we can’t even begin to answer.
Cancer does not just affect the person diagnosed. It affects couples, families and friends. It affects every feeling family members have and it turns their lives upside. It is overwhelming and scary. It makes us angry and it makes us grieve. Cancer changes they way we relate to friends and family and the way they relate to us. It makes us numb to the point where all we want to do is prevail and what we do to get there does not matter.
From my own diagnoses of RA and Fibromyalgia, I know that pain and feeling sick can make you feel very alone and in particular in your own body, no matter how much love you have around you. My brother has so much love around him and I know that he feels so alone in his body. I know first hand what it feels like your body turns against you but I don’t know what it feels like to be told that you have a small chance of remission. I don’t know what it feels like to be told that you may be terminal and I don’t know what it feels like to have very little control of your body.
I just know that my brother is not alone and with every obstacle, I remind him that we are his family and we will take care of him. He is not alone through this journey and this journey isn’t for him to take alone. I once read that it “takes a whole village to manage a cancer patient,” and my brother has that and more. Every step of the way, we will be by his side until he tells us he is sick of us. We are going to put up a good fight and we are going to win and cancer won’t know what hit it. That is our promise to him.