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Pediatric Cancer Blog

Provided By Parents, For Parents.

Share The Experience, Minimize The Loss

Posted on Mar 05, 2013

Your siblings are your best buds-that's how it's always been. But now, cancer's in the way, and you feel like you're losing bits and pieces of them every day. What can you and your family do to minimize these losses?

You can probably remember the first couple of times your sick brother or sister told you they were too tired or nauseous to be bothered with you. Maybe you were little, like me, and can remember wondering, why doesn’t she want to play with me? After a while, you probably gave up and accepted the fact that they just weren’t interested.

That was the first part of Lainie I lost—my play pal. Growing up, Lainie was my buddy. We played “high school” and “family”. We pretended we were passengers on the sinking ship Titanic, and only Leo DiCaprio could save us. But when Lainie got sick, we couldn’t do those things anymore. We’d play for 15 minutes, and she’d get tired and apologize, relinquishing herself back to the couch.

Not long after, the losses became greater, and Lainie and I were running out of things in common. She spent a lot of time at the hospital over the next few years getting treatment, platelets, blood transfusions—the whole shebang. Sometimes I’d wake up in the middle of the night, and she’d be gone, headed to the ER with my mom or dad. Soon, she wasn’t attending school anymore. It was just too difficult for her.

The gap was there, but it wasn’t just with Lainie. Having a sick child is an additional full time job for parents, and for me, that meant seeing them less. I was fortunate to have great neighborhood friends, a loving nanny, and parents that actively tried to integrate mine and my little sister’s lives with Lainie’s. Although I couldn’t do the things I was used to doing with Lainie, we were still very much a part of each other’s lives, and I learned to adjust.

Although Lainie is gone now, I don’t find myself stunted of memories when I think of her, and for that, I have my parents to thank. Schedules are going to get crazy, things are going to happen, and there’s not going to be anything you can do about it. So, parents should try to remember one thing: keep your family together. Integrate the healthy children with the sick one. Help them find new ways to connect and spend time together, so the inevitable losses they experience won’t feel so great. No matter what the outcome, each person will be left feeling that they were an important part of the experience.

Samantha Afendoulis


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