I grew up in a military family as the eldest of three. While others were playing with Barbies and ribbons, my brothers and I used Daddy’s camcorder, sheets, and plastic lightsabers to make our own version of Star Wars – which is highly embarrassing and the evidence is sitting dormant on a VHS somewhere. In my childhood, I can only remember two girls who I felt close to enough to have sleepovers – Carissa and Lizzie – both of whom I still keep in touch. So, I don’t know what it’s like to have a sister or an older sibling. Someone to share clothes and stay up painting nails and talking about boys while also helping me navigate life.
Tragically and miraculously, I gained thousands of older and younger sisters on October 18th, 2016 – the day I was wheeled into the ICU and my diagnosis was ovarian cancer. This past weekend I went to two events. The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition’s D.C. Metro Run/Walk and the Johns Hopkins Strive and Thrive Below the Belt Run/Walk. While at both events, I met so many of my family members.
That’s the thing with a supportive family – you don’t have to ask for a hug – though I am not at all a huggy person – you just do it. You cry on each other’s shoulders and share stories. You give each other advice and have each other’s back. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been or if you’ve never met at all – you have their best interest in mind and celebrate their successes as if they’re your own.
Instead of borrowing each other’s clothes, we talk about what was the most comfortable during chemo and how to wear clothes to keep cool due to surgical menopause. Instead of braiding each other’s hair, we know what it is to be bald and reassure one another that it will come back. And instead of crying over boys, we hold each other when all seems lost and say everything will be okay. We share the jubilance of a clear CT and mourn the loss of being able to bear a child. We’ve been there. We know how it feels. We will get through it together.