A Story of Two Sisters: How We Cope with Cancer
Do you remember how it feels when the GPS makes you drive the wrong way on a one-way street? You know it’s wrong, you shouldn’t be there, and, deep inside, you’d never thought it could happen to you.
For me, that’s what I felt when my sister called to say our mother had been diagnosed with cancer.
No Way Back
I wasn’t on any one-street way, but a highway, driving at full speed, with no reverse option. A week went on like that, with more doubts coming every day. Our mother saw a specialist and was expected to go through scans and a biopsy.
The worst part of this is that you have no control. You don’t know when the next bad news comes and, when you think it can’t get worse than that, you get hit again.
You carry on against the flow of traffic on a weird highway of doubts and hope. In the beginning, you pray for the smallest fine, then worry about the other drivers’ reactions. As you stay more on the road, you end wishing only for everyone in the car to get to the first gas station alive.
Numbers and Tears
Numbers helped me cope with the news. I used stats to build optimistic scenarios that I shared with my sister. She cried a lot, but I could feel her effort to hold onto hope. “I have never felt something as awful as what I feel now,” she told me once.
I’ve always thought I was the strong one, but she’s in charge now. She spends time with our mother and takes her to the hospital for more tests, because I live 1,400 miles away. For now, I can’t go home due to travel restrictions.
Sometimes, I think it’s better this way. My sister finds the right words to encourage our mother in ways I would never consider. If I don’t have numbers, I don’t know what to say. They can’t help anymore — one of the scans revealed that our mother’s tumor is inoperable. As she does more tests, we receive good news and bad news.
Now, we can only teach each other to accept what we can’t change, without losing hope.