My sister has breast cancer

I might as well just come out and say it right off the bat. It's not like she or the family was eased into the idea: she found a lump, had an ultrasound and had a mastectomy in a matter of weeks. Days after the surgery, her oncologist told her that she has Stage 3 invasive cancer. This was one week ago. She has to have blood tests and CT scans and an MRI and a bone scan to see if the cancer has spread to her brain, liver, bones. Her world has turned upside down and I stand here full of love and anger and fear, wondering how I can help her face this.

Tomorrow, I'm taking my sister to have a bone scan. Over 25 years ago, she was there with me when I had a bone scan. I was living in the east Kootenays, with my parents, and flew alone to Vancouver (where my sister was living) to see a pain specialist and have the scan. At the time, they had no idea what was causing my pain and had run out of tests they could do at the local hospital. I was 17 and my sister was 24, and she helped me face this uncertainty. They weren't looking for cancer, but I was scared and unsure and she was there for me. I told my sister that I would like to be able to return the favour and accompany her. This is one small thing I can do.

Twenty five years ago, my glowing bones showed nothing: the scan was normal. Tomorrow, after the radioactive tracer sinks into my sister's bones, I pray that her scan will echo mine. In this nothingness, I hope we will find common ground.

I had a very hard time creating an image that captured my hope and longing as well as my feelings of fierce protectiveness of my sister. This bone scan is one small part of her journey, but in this I offer up my support to her, my hope for her, my love for her. I will stand beside her and do whatever I can to help her through. There is so much more that she will face: chemotherapy, radiation and the suffering they bring. This image is my talisman.

[click to enlarge image]


greenwords said...

I'm so sorry to read this. Your love for your sister radiates from your words like fire. I am thinking of you both and hoping the scan shows strong healthy beautiful bones.

Geoff Miller & Carla Gillis said...

donimo, this is a beautiful post. sisters are so important to each other. good luck with the scan.


Anonymous said...

I'm so happy that you are going to be there for your sister today. It's so nice to have somebody there while you are going through medical testing. Especially with someone so familiar and knowledgeable with the medical system.

Beautiful image. I really like the blue.


Teri said...

What a beautiful and moving post. I love this image d... I know your sister has a hard journey ahead, and I am sending you both every bit of love I can muster.

Thanks for sharing this post and the image. xoxoxo

rachelcreative said...

Sometimes the best thing is to know someone is there for us. They don't have to know the right things to do or say. Just to know they are there.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Thank you for being there for your sister. And thank you for letting me know what is going on. How to deal with secondary helplessness, I don't know. I'm not very good at it. I tend to clean a lot, if that is any help- at least it keeps you focused.

cusp said...

A devastating turn of events for your sister and you and family.

Your strength will be an invaluable support for you and your sister. I can empathise with your fears having been through very similar experiences with my mother.

The image has a calm serenity and is very beautiful. I wish you strength my dear

Donimo said...

Thanks, everyone, for your comments... they mean the world to me. The bone scan went fine on Tuesday: it involved hours of waiting around while the radioactive tracer sunk into her bones and then a 45 minute stint on the imaging table. My sister didn't feel sick afterwards, but was quite wiped out after the long day. It was good to spend time with her and feel a bit useful.

Greenwords: it feels really good to hear that my love for her shines through. With my Fibrofog and my tendency toward editing as I write or create, I worry that sometimes, the feeling doesn't come through.

Carla: I have such a clear picture of you and your sister singing "Orion," so I know you know.

Alison: I'm glad that my years in the medical world can help inform me in a positive way. My sister was very glad for my presence, so that's good. Blue seems like an open, healthy and hopeful colour to me, somehow.

Teri: thanks so much. Your support helps. Sending an image out into the world is a tough thing sometimes... this one certainly was, so I am very pleased that you like it.

Rachel: that's it exactly. My niece wanted to call my sister and was worried about saying "the right thing" and I told her just to be there. Connect. I know I have to be reminded of the need to just be there, so thanks for that.

Elizabeth: yes, my sister is the one who is helpless and I am helpless, once removed. It's hard. I do have to watch my focus and not go into undifferentiated despair or general overwhelm. I think chipping away at things like cleaning does help. Thanks for being there.

Cusp: I'm sorry you went through this with your mother. It means a lot that you see the serenity in the picture given that you know what kind of emotional chaos we are in.

The Goldfish said...

Catching up on my reading today, I'm sorry to read this and very moved by the love you have for your sister. Wishing both of you, and the rest of your family, all the best.

michelle said...

I haven't been online that much lately. I am so sorry your sister has cancer. Her world has changed in a flash. Your love for her is so clear in the writing and the image glows with the protectiveness and love you've described. It's a beautiful piece of art. Haunting, too. It's so strong and I was very moved by it.

I am glad that scan day went fine. I guess the results will be in soon? I wish your sister and your family the best in these tough times. She's lucky she has you.

(I really wish I had better words.)

Donimo said...

Goldfish: thank you for your kind words... they help.

Michelle: you don't have to have the right words or better words. Your words were heartfelt and helped lift me up a bit.

Now, if someone said she can skip chemo and be cured by drinking Goji Berry juice, those might be the wrong words!

Katrin said...

Sorry didn't see this sooner, glad things came back ok with the bone scan, sorry to hear about the cancer though. Hope the final out come is favorable though. Best of luck.

The Elite Body said...

I hope that the reports of the scan will show every thing fine for your sister.

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