My only sibling, my sister, Diann – not just my sister, a best friend to me, a confidant, a mom of three, a young grandma, was diagnosed with breast cancer this week at age 55 – the same age I was when diagnosed. I am absolutely devastated as is the rest of my family, especially her kids. As many of you know, my mom was diagnosed just last June, 2014 with breast cancer. I was diagnosed in October, 2011. We are all that is left of our nuclear family. My dad died from pancreatic cancer at age 65. Especially, I feel for my 81 year old mom who lost her husband to cancer, is a breast cancer and melanoma survivor herself, and now is now forced to watch her second daughter fight breast cancer.
Diann and I took one look at the doctors face as she entered the room, and we knew before she told us. As we sat in the same place at our local hospital where all of us received “the news”, no one could believe it, including the nurses and doctors. I feel so distraught, more than I did with my own diagnosis.
So once again we are forced to face this. The only thing that makes it easier is we know what to do and who to call. My Oncologist agreed to take Diann as a patient even though he is not currently accepting new patients, and my mom’s surgeon will perform whatever Diann needs for surgery. We will be putting thousands of miles on our cars making the drive to the University of Michigan Comprehensive Breast Care Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The geneticists at University of Michigan thought it was a fluke that both mom and I got breast cancer. When we made the first call to the Breast Care Center, the nurse said, “I have already put the geneticists on alert.”
It baffles me because family trees on both sides of the family have been done back generations, and no breast cancer on either side of the family. How did three of us end up with breast cancer??? Did the relatives just die young before they were diagnosed. Did they have huge tumors in them when they died of something else? Was it environmental? Did I grow up in a cancer cluster? Was the electric tower across the street from my neighborhood the culprit, or what? The questions keep swimming in my head.
My sister and I are very different. She is very private, while I didn’t hesitate to blab my cancer journey to the world. Diann trusts her doctors and doesn’t want to read much about her diagnosis (although she will not know much until next week). I read everything I could, and in retrospect, most things I should not have read. Diann likes to stay busy and will probably try to work as much as she can during whatever treatment is necessary for her, while I had to process things more quietly.
Diann will have to face this journey alone as it is one lonely journey as many of you know firsthand. I already promised her I will not try to force my way of handling breast cancer unto her, which as the older sister, is always my temptation. Everyone keeps telling us it is good Diann has me to help guide her. That may be true to some degree, but every cancer journey is entirely different. Certainly, I know this from hearing from thousands of cancer patients. I’m just so angry…I didn’t want Diann to be one of them.
My family would appreciate your thoughts and prayers. So many of you are like family to me and have become friends over the years…Thank you!!