Cancer isn’t the End

Shauna - Washington, Missouri
Entered on February 26, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I never knew my Grandma Berger; she passed away from inflammatory carcinoma, a form of breast cancer, five years before I was born. The type she had was incurable and skips a generation, meaning all of her grandchildren must watch out for the disease.

Four years ago, my sister felt a lump in her breast that turned out to be breast cancer. She went to the doctors, who told her it wasn’t the same kind my grandma had, but she would have to have surgery, chemo, and radiation. The news hit our family hard because Holly was the oldest, and it was another person we loved who had cancer. I looked up to her because she was both strong and caring. After the diagnosis, Holly signed up for the Susan G. Komen race for the cure in St. Louis. We’ve gone to the event every year since to support her.

Holly went to many doctors to ask their opinion on whether she should get one breast removed or both. After talking to one of her friends, she decided to get both removed so there was no chance of the cancer coming back. Her surgery went fine.

Next, Holly had chemo for six months. This was one of the more difficult parts for my family because Holly had long, curly hair, and she lost it all within two weeks. Around Thanksgiving Danielle, my other sister, cut it as short as she could. When she started to lose her hair more, it was painful because she’d wake up and find hair on her pillow, or she’d take a shower and find clumps of hair in the drain. Her humor helped us be stronger and helped her cope. For example, when we went to a concert the people behind us were smoking. It really bothered us, so Holly took off her scarf and pretended to cough while she asked them to put out their cigarettes. They felt so guilty that they never lit another one up.

Finally, Holly dealt with radiation for six weeks. She looked like she had a sunburn. After that was over, the only thing left to do was wait. It’d be a long, and agonizing five years before she’d be cancer free. It’s been almost four years now, and she’s better than ever. She found someone who loves her, and they’re getting married in July.

I believe that family can help loved ones get through anything, and my sister is living proof. If we never had our family and friends to help us out of this situation, it would’ve been very hard to keep up with everything and to keep positive when others think there is no hope. It’s very important for me to have my family and friends close to me. When something is bothering me I know I can tell them anything and they’ll help me. I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t have my family and friends behind me.