Like most younger sisters, I admired my sister while we grew up. I admired her personality – outgoing, friendly, and head strong. As a shy and reserved person, those were traits I wished people saw in me. I admired my sister’s perseverance. She often had bumps in the road and took them with grace. I admired my sister so much that at times I tried to be like her. I tried almost all the sports she tried. However, I found that what she excelled in, I didn’t. But that goes both ways – I succeeded in some things she struggled in. In high school, I convinced her to share a locker with me. It would be that last opportunity to keep my sister close before she took off for college. Two years later, I followed her to the same college. I knew that no matter the path we took, we would always have each other’s backs. Having her by my side along the way was an added bonus.
When I was diagnosed, my sister stepped up. She attended a few appointments with me. She took great care of me during my surgery recovery. She made sure I was well taken care of. I did the same for her, as that is what sisters do.
While I went with the same-day reconstruction, my sister decided to wait a month from her mastectomies to start the reconstruction process. Living through my recovery and hers, I felt she had the quicker of the two. She was able to move her arms much sooner. Just a few days later there was no need for me to grab things down from the shelf for her. She was able to start her arm exercises immediately while I had to wait a week, and then another week due to a surprise second surgery.
We both had surprises on our final pathology reports. While mine only required a daily dose of an anti-estrogen drug, my sister was expected to do the full gamut of treatment. A later surgery to remove more lymph nodes and start her reconstruction determined she had eight more lymph nodes involved moving her to Stage 3 cancer. This made her treatment plan change drastically. Chemotherapy, radiation, anti-estrogen drugs were now taking over many months.
I have continued to admire my sister throughout the years. Her perseverance and determination have been amazing. We have definitely grown closer during these last two years because of both of our diagnoses. My admiration has only grown as well. I have come to realize that even though our paths were similar in many ways, I couldn’t compare my cancer to hers. It would be like comparing apples to oranges. They’re both fruit that grow on trees, but that’s about the extent of the similarities. Each person is different in their diagnosis and treatment. Each person is different in their recovery. Each has different struggles and smooth times. Whichever way I look at it, my sister will always be there, despite all the differences.
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