Growing Up With A Terminally Ill Sibling

Growing Up With A Terminally Ill Sibling

It's hard to claim that nothing is wrong, when really nothing is right.
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I come from a family of two loving parents, an older sister, and an older brother. My sister and I are about four years apart, while my brother and I are only 15 months apart. My brother and I have always had a special bond due to being close in age. We played together, laughed together, and even got into trouble together. We spent a lot of time together, but that ended up changing.

I was 4 years old when I began to see the panic, sadness, and frustration in my parents' eyes. I began to spend less time with my brother. I never questioned why, but my parents always told me that he just "wasn't feeling well." He began his year of kindergarten only to be withdrawn from school just a few weeks later. He was spending a lot of his time in this huge place that was once so unfamiliar to me. He began to look different over time, losing weight and eventually losing all of his hair. The children in the huge building looked similar to him in that respect, but being just five years old I didn't know what caused this similarity.

It wasn't until we celebrated what was going to be our "last" holiday together as a family that I realized what was wrong. My best friend, my partner in crime, and my brother was hospitalized for his illness. My parents seemed to be so upset about him being sick, but then I discovered it wasn't just a cold or the flu. My brother was diagnosed with Stage 4 Rhabdomyosarcoma and had only a few weeks to live. My parents never told me the harsh reality of it all and how my brother had only a short time left, but as I grew older my parents began to explain it more.

I may have never known what exactly what was wrong, but I did know just how much it affected me. When you have a sibling with a terminal illness, not only do you see them less but you also spend less time with your parents. Both of my parents spent endless hours at the hospital with my brother, just being there to comfort him when he was sad or in pain, or to even bring him on "top-secret" (the nurses knew all about it) midnight runs to the vending machine while pushing him on his IV pole. My parents tried to make the most of the time they had left with my brother, but what they didn't realize was just how much it affected my sister and I.

My sister would try to go home from school every single day. She cried and feared being away from my brother and having him pass away. She missed her parents, and she missed her brother. She understood the situation more than I did. She tried to help care for me in the way an eight- year-old could -- comfort me and just keep me occupied. I only truly understood that my parents weren't around as much and I didn't have my brother around. I may have felt "slighted" by not being able to spend time with my parents, but once I understood the situation when I was older I no longer felt that way.

It's hard having a sibling with a terminal illness, but I could never imagine the sadness that my parents and my brother went through each day. I saw my parents struggle to smile and not cry in front of my brother. I saw them come home from work only to quickly get ready and make my brother's favorite meal (rice meatballs) to bring to him in the hospital. I saw them crying when they thought I wasn't watching. I saw them comfort my sister and I saw them comfort my brother, all while maintaining their jobs and taking care of my sister and I. Never did they break down and stop being loving parents to us all. They stood strong, not only for themselves, but for my siblings and I.

I value my brother's and my parents' strength during that time. My brother was such a trooper when it came to surgeries, chemotherapy, and even a single needle (I cry like a baby if someone comes near me with a needle). He fought through it all with such a strong and bright attitude. My parents tried to make our life as normal as could be, but what is normal about having a child with a terminal illness? Absolutely nothing. It's hard to try to raise two children while the other is looking death directly in the eyes. It's hard to claim that nothing is wrong, when really nothing is right.

I admire the strength in not only my parents and brother, but also all families going through the same situation. Cancer sucks and I pray that one day there will be a cure for it. No one deserves to have to lose a loved one, especially a child. It's still hard for my family to talk about what we went through during the time my brother was sick, but I do have to say one thing -- it made us the strong and close family we are today. My parents and my brother both stayed strong, but it took a lot for my brother to keep smiling and pushing on when he wasn't expected to. Today, my brother is more than just my brother: he's my hero.

Cover Image Credit: Sydney Weit

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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Tanya Gold, Your Fatphobic Article Is Uneducated And Arrogant

BREAKING NEWS: Women come in all different shapes and sizes!

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Just recently, Nike released a plus-size mannequin at one of their stores in London that showed off their plus-size leggings and sports bra. And, because we live in a world where being fat or overweight or obese is somehow the worst thing in the world to some people, this has sparked a lot of discussion.

Tanya Gold wrote an article for The Telegraph saying that this mannequin “cannot run" and is “likely pre-diabetic" and “on her way to a hip-replacement." Not only is Tanya's article uneducated and poorly written, it's completely fatphobic and embarrassing.

What I would like to know is this: why can't plus-size women work out in Nike clothes just like a size 2 woman? People want to scream from the rooftops that plus-size women are fat because they don't exercise and when companies FINALLY start catering to plus-size women with clothes they can EXERCISE IN, people lose their minds and think that they're promoting obesity.

What are plus sized women supposed to work out in if they can't even wear Nike leggings without being fat-shamed?

Would you rather them wear jeans? Overalls? A parka, maybe? What about a garbage bag?

Let's also discuss the fact that being overweight doesn't equal being unhealthy, just like being at a “normal" weight doesn't make you healthy. Did you ever stop to think that some women have diseases that make them gain weight that they, in return, can't lose? Some women can eat salad for every single meal, seven days a week and they still can't lose weight.

Let's all say this together: SIZE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH FITNESS. Being thin doesn't equal being healthy and being overweight doesn't equal being unhealthy.

Everyone (and yes, I mean EVERYONE) should be able to be comfortable in their own skin AND in their clothes.

You can't sit and pout saying that fat people don't care about their health and then when they want comfortable clothes to wear while they're EXERCISING, hell has frozen over and how dare Nike cater to people who aren't a size 2.

Tanya, be honest with yourself. You aren't anywhere near a size 2, either, so where is all of this coming from? Are you self-loathing? Do you have some kind of internal fatphobia?

Pick a side, Tanya. You can't hate people who are overweight because you think that they aren't exercising and then when they do exercise and they get clothes that cater to them, it's all of the sudden wrong and horrible.

We are damned if we do, damned if we don't. As if women (and men) weren't already being shamed enough for being plus size, we're now being made to feel bad because a brand caters to our size so we can wear the same clothes all of the other sizes can wear.

Thank you, Nike, for making your brand more inclusive for all shapes and sizes so we can ALL feel confident in our clothes.

I think it's worth mentioning that Nike released their plus-size line in 2017 AKA 2 years ago... Why weren't you mad then?

Oh, and, Tanya Gold, you might want to stop smoking since you're all about being healthy, right? You don't want to get lung cancer or anything, do you?

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