Living With Leukemia Essay, Research Paper
Living with Leukemia
Childhood cancer, is a topic most teens don’t think much about. People don’t until it invades their own home. Leukemia, often referred to as cancer of the blood’, can infect children to adults. This disease totally disrupts lives, not only of the patient, but also of those closest to him or her, including the siblings. My boyfriend’s mother, Yvette Rozati, unfortunately had to go through this when she was seventeen. Nan, her younger sister, fought and lost the battle of Leukemia. Yvette now shares her experiences with me, and how she coped with having a sibling suffering from this disease.
Yvette is very quiet and reserved as she sits down to tell her story. She begins slowly, while she thinks back on her childhood memories. I can tell this is a subject she does not talk about much.
Nan was thirteen when she was diagnosed with leukemia. Yvette had trouble answering, when I asked her if Nan or the family saw any warning signs. When she found the right words she replied, “she became to get really sick, we didn’t know what it might be. Nan was put into the ICU at the hospital while doctors tried to figure out what was wrong. There were some warning signs that we noticed but did not put two and two together. Nan would bruise very easily, and she had gum disease forming in her mouth.”
When the family had first heard the news that Nan was diagnosed with Leukemia, they were all in shock. Yvette began to talk more softly and looked down at her hands a lot. There was much pain in her face, as she began to talk about her initial reaction to Nan’s diagnosis. She was not very familiar with the disease, and always believed her sister would get better. Yvette treated her sister’s sickness like a cold, assuming it was curable. Never realizing how serious and life threatening Leukemia is.
Nan also believed she would get better. In the beginning phases she was very optimistic. The whole family was encouraging, and this gave Nan hope. With a smile on her face, Yvette goes on to tell how proud she was of her sister. “Nan was very brave for what she had to face and go thru. My little sister was having to fight this awful disease, while trying to come to the realization that she might not make it.” Yvette wiped a tear from her eye. She then lit a cigarette. “I remember my sister’s innocence, and how awful it was to have that taken away from her. Nan stayed unselfish through the whole thing. She never wanted to feel like a burden on the family.”
Coping with a sibling fighting Leukemia can be extremely difficult. Yvette says she did okay in the beginning, always staying positive. She also had to take on a motherly role, while her mother was primarily living at the hospital. “I had basically taken over the household, I picked relatives up from the airport, kept the house neat, I even bought groceries for the family. I was glad I was keeping myself busy, and it made it a little bit easier to keep my mind off my sister’s illness.”
Nan, near the end, began to get scared at times. She was becoming more weak, and after being at the hospital for three weeks, Yvette volunteered to donate her platelet. Nan’s body would need them to help clot the blood, control bleeding, and fight bacteria. Yvette only donated once but it let Nan stay stronger for three more weeks. You could see it in her eyes and smile, that she was proud of what she had done to help her sister. She even went on to boast that she was going to be the bone marrow transplant donor for Nan. They were to travel to the state of Washington, but Nan had become too weak.
The sister’s biological father was never around while growing up. Yvette and Nan hardly ever saw him. Yvette described her father’s visit like this, “When our dad came to see Nan, me and her got real scared. My family and I began to understand that friends and relatives were now coming to say their goodbye’s, and see Nan one last time.”
Nan had now been in the hospital for six weeks, she was given stronger doses of medication, and she was starting to hallucinate. Yvette remembers holding her sister’s hand in the hospital room, while Nan told her about the African safari she was on. Nan had the adult form of Leukemia, which is found very rare in children. Nan was literally eaten up by the disease and was no longer strong enough to hold on. Yvette was not expecting her sister’s death so soon, but she was holding her hand when she passed away. Tears begin to swell up in her eyes as she describes Nan’s final moments on earth.
Thirty years later, Nan and her death still affect how Yvette lives her life today. “My sister’s fight against the disease and her death has shaped me into the person I have become. That is why I am so quiet and to myself sometimes, I don’t like conflicts and I avoid confrontations. I never take life for granted, because you never know when you might have to leave this world.” When I asked Yvette my last question: what did you admire most about your sister? It took her a little while to answer. She thought about it for a moment, and then replied with a warm grin, “Her strength, her positive outlook on everything, and her joy for life.”