i am a liver (too)

My sister, Sara, wanted to write a guest post for me today. That’s good, because after writing 14, 800+ word posts, I might be running out of words:

This post was spurred by my usual Rosh Hashanah feelings of remorse. The point of the Jewish New Year, or at least how I take it, is to wrap up any loose ends from the past year. For the most part, my unfinished business deals with feelings of guilt that I want to unshoulder and usually has to do with “clearing the air” with friends or family. Last year, I wrote emails apologizing to people I had “wronged.” This year I’m writing a blog…

So many changes in a year, but not all of them bad.

This time last year, I was beginning my senior year of college and anticipating the lack of sleep I could expect thanks to a heavy course load and many extracurricular activities. This time last year, I was excited that my older sister was finally back in California and living a mere three miles away from me. This time last year, I had what seems now like insignificant problems to deal with. Then, cancer entered the picture (read Lindsey’s recent blog about what she really has, which I’m calling “cancer” for convenience).

Lindsey starting this blog has caused me to reflect on the past year, and especially how much more comfortable I am with the idea of cancer in my life (via Lindsey) now. It’s no longer constantly scary or tear-inducing; I don’t sit around completely terrified of all the bad things in life that can happen with little warning. Instead, cancer has become a part of the equation, just one weight on the scale. Something like learning about Steve Jobs’ death may shake me for an evening, but I’ve learned to cope. And really, not all aspects of cancer are that terrible.

Free prescriptions are now part of the deal due to all the money we’ve already paid for Lindsey’s care this year. A trip to the pharmacy that before would have easily cost over $100 is now $0. Walking out of the store, I can’t help but feel like a thief and wonder what everyone else in line around me is thinking. I wonder what they would think if I said it was all thanks to cancer.

My family, I sometimes like to think, is closer than ever. Sure we quibble and get on each other’s nerves, but there is nothing more bonding than spending pretty much every waking moment for two weeks together in a hospital room. I’ve also discovered that a sister-friend is different from other friends, and often better I think.

In this past year, I’ve also been delighted to discover just how many truly wonderful people I have in my life (and Lindsey has in hers and our other sister has in hers). One of our latest things to say is “We like ___(person’s name)___.” This is said about a lot of people, and it is true every time. Lindsey has so many people out there constantly offering support when she needs it.

At the beginning, it was excruciating to tell my friends about Lindsey, mainly because I wasn’t sure if it was my secret to share. I was being eaten up inside by depression and stress and anger and fear, but all of that wasn’t necessarily visible. A few of my friends caught me at a bad moment and the truth just kind of slipped out. Many more were told because I knew that I had to get support outside of my family. Almost everyone has been amazing. The most incredible part to me is that many of these friends have never even met my sister, but still ask how she is doing. And care how she is doing.

However, it wasn’t just the people I told that were able to help, even if they didn’t know it. There are still some whom I consider very good friends who aren’t “in” on the secret. For a few, the moment was just never right. For others, talking about cancer just didn’t fit into our dynamic. It’s difficult to break the easy flow of conversation with the perfect conversation killer of “My sister has cancer.” Anyway, these friends were able to help by simply allowing me the opportunity to escape talking or thinking about cancer. It was a little vacation from my life, no matter how guilty I’ve felt about keeping this secret from them.

Now that my sister having cancer is just a part of all of our lives and not so painful to think or talk about, I find it strange that all the people I see on a daily basis have no knowledge of this huge part of my life. Especially now that this blog gets hundreds of views a day, which means that the secret is kind of blown wide open. I’m tired of walking around with the secret, and think it may be time to share it with the world.

We like Sara!

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