By Reveca Torres
“You have breast cancer.”
These are the words that my little sister, Annie, had to hear a few months ago and I cannot imagine how difficult it was. One hopes that lightning doesn’t strike twice in a family, but…
I was injured and paralyzed in a car accident at the age of 13. My younger brothers and sister were all in the car. Aside from cuts and bruises, I was the only one that was seriously physically injured in the accident. However, it has changed us all. I remember following the accident I would have nightmares that my siblings had gotten hurt and what troubled me most was that I could not do anything about it.
Growing up I frequently needed help with activities of daily living and Annie was there to help – brushing my teeth, combing my hair, getting dressed or cutting up my food. Many times Annie had to stay home and help me instead of being with her friends. I always felt a little bit guilty about that but also grateful that she was there. She, along with my siblings and parents, helped and still continue to do so. And this is where it gets difficult.
It’s difficult to see someone you love going through a tough time. The natural thing is to want to take care of them and do things for them to help them through. However, what happens when you have always been the one getting taken care of?
Just the other day I was talking to a friend who also has a spinal cord injury, is married and has two children. Although she is very physically able and very independent, there are times when she depends on the help of her husband. Her husband was recently injured, had surgery, and needs to use crutches temporarily. The tables have turned. Over the phone she mentioned how difficult it was for her to be in a chair and him on crutches. I wondered if there was some emotional adjustment or realization she must be going through as well.
Annie’s cancer was not super aggressive and she continues to go through treatment. She’s active and has a positive attitude, however, on days when she is exhausted or feeling blue, I just want to head over to her house and bring her some soup, or a warm blanket. I’d like to go over and wash her dishes. I’d like to be able to take care of the baby when he’s being fussy. I’d like to be able to jump in her bed and cuddle with her without her having to transfer me. But, I can’t physically do that… so I resort to calling and checking on her and making myself available for lunch dates, distractions, or a little bit of crying when needed.
I hope she knows I would be making her feel like a queen if it wasn’t for one minor detail.
The truth is… (I’m going to make a cheesy metaphor here, but it’s a good one, I promise)
Our lives are like a storm. It gets crazy. Sometimes it can be still, sometimes it will be windy, sometimes there will be rain, and sometimes lightning will strike. In fact, lightning will strike many times, I guarantee it. It may be a little rumble and a BOOM, or… It may be a loud CRACK that’ll make you jump out of bed. But, I also guarantee that if you look up to the sky it becomes illuminated and it is beautiful.
Your storm might be scary but you will find power, beauty and strength.