This week was the anniversary of my sister’s death. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 3 years already. I think the loss of my sister is wrapped up in the loss of my daughter as it seems to be hitting me harder this year.
My sister and I were best friends growing up and although as we grew we moved to different cities we always remained close. In early July 2012 she called to inform the family that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer – we were shocked, my aunt and grandmother on my dad’s side had both died of breast cancer and complications from its treatment. We consoled ourselves with the fact that these days it is highly treatable. Unfortunately, she had inflammatory breast cancer, which is usually only diagnosed at stage III or IV. She was already at stage IV and in fact had a seizure one or two days after we arrived. The doctors thought that her only chance of survival was aggressive treatment- including chemo and radiation for the brain tumours. Tests determined that the cancer was triple negative, which decreased her chances significantly, in fact one doctor commented that her cancer was unusually aggressive. She started treatment which was very hard on her but she got good news in late Nov – it looked like the tumours in her head were gone. My parents had moved to take care of her but they all returned home for Christmas; unfortunately, my sister wasn’t feeling well. My grandmother’s birthday is on the 21st and she couldn’t join us, as she felt so unwell. The next day my mom took her to the hospital but they couldn’t find anything wrong. But she couldn’t keep anything done and was in excruciating pain, so my mom took her back to the hospital – where they finally did a scan and found tumours on her brain. My mom wasn’t impressed as the first time they went the doctor didn’t feel that brain tumours would grow back so quickly. They stayed in town to celebrate an early Christmas and then returned that evening to my sisters home so she could be treated by her own doctors. Further tests indicated the prognosis was very poor and on the 27th my mom phoned to say that I should come for a visit and to bring my grandmother. When we arrived my mom told me that my sister wasn’t likely to last long.