TO YOU, SISTER!

Exactly today my sister would have been 1 month away from her 40th Birthday, it also marks the 1st anniversary of her passing away.

My sister was a very talented Medical Doctor with a PHD in immunology, and a mother of 2 beautiful boys.

Right after her pregnancy with her second child she noticed a swelling in her left breast, though she knew better, she ignored it.  She self medicated herself with antibiotics, the swelling went away.  Eight months later it re-appeared this time it was a hard mass that kept growing to almost double the size of her normal breast- her son was 1 year old.

After being pressured form Mom and her husband she went to see a Doctor, then came the news that everyone dreads in life the big C word, She had Breast Cancer that advanced with secondaries or what they call metastasis in the liver it was 2nd stage Cancer

I guess all along she knew what is it, but she was too scared to face it, or to actually know and confirm what it was, in her mind she had two kids that came first and she didn’t have time for herself, little she knew.  I flew back home as no one told me till 6 months later, I haven’t seen my sister in 4 years, the last mental picture I had of her was in her wedding night, a beautiful radiant bride, all what I saw was a person with pale skin as white as the color of clay. 

She was undergoing very severe chemotherapy, the first round she went through didn’t help, actually a French Doctor that was visiting told her that it spread more, and shifted her to a new drug that was still not even approved by the FDA in the US called “Herceptine” as her cancer was the resistant one.

She was going through 2 chemotherapy sessions/week, I saw her loose her hair twice through the years, I have seen her loose her eyebrows, the skin on her fingers was peeling, the skin on the sole of her feet was falling, she was going through very aggressive chemo.  A lady in a supermarket once asked her how come she didn’t have any eyebrows, my sister just smiled and left and it did break my heart, I wanted to punch that woman, but she didn’t know how cruel that remark was.

Through all the years, I have never seen my sister or heard her complain, her only worry was her baby son, not to leave him behind as an infant or a toddler, she had so much faith and her love for her children gave her a lot of strength, she had 2 jobs and was a lecturer at the College and she kept working, not once I heard her say Why me? I did say it for her though many times, Why her? But I never had any answer.

Through all our lives, we were never close there was always some kind of competition and disagreements between us, we never got to discuss that, we never got to the point to amend what was broken between us, as when I saw her I didn’t know what to tell her, I babysat, I took the kids out but never really knew how to face her.

After a couple of years, we got great news, the chemo was working the breast cancer regressed totally, and the liver lesions were under control, her hair grew back and it was a good time for the whole family.  6 months later she went back to her regular check-up and they found that some malignant cells went to her Blood Brain barrier, so they put her under more aggressive chemotherapy and she lost her hair again.   During this whole time I was flying back and forth,

The Doctors had a prognosis of 3 to 5 years maximum, when the 5th year passed we became hopeful, then the 6th year came and went by, by the end of the 7th year we stopped feeling hopeful as we didn’t want to jinx ourselves or her, her youngest was almost 9 years old and her eldest was almost 15 years old

On the 13th of October last year, she came home from work with a very high fever, the Doctor advised to take her to the hospital, she had what we always feared “Pneumonia” her frail body immune system wasn’t working anymore, she went into a coma, woke up the 21st of October 2008 but unfortunately no one understood what she was saying as tubes went down her throat and we promised that tomorrow we will bring a paper and a pen, but tomorrow never came for her- Her weakened body gave up on her, she didn’t give up but her body couldn’t take it anymore, there wasn’t any viable vein in her whole body able to accept an IV anymore.

In the morning of the 22nd of October she left us, leaving behind her a very courageous story of fighting and not giving in to an ugly undefeatable enemy whose army is vicious that its soldiers destroy every single cell in the body

Why I am sharing this, I am trying to spread a message to all women and men, to please have their mammograms done regularly, some men would say it is a woman’s disease to them I would say NO, it can affect men and the fatality rate is higher in men, so please if you feel any nodes, masses or tumors go see your Doctor, insist on having a mammogram and an Ultrasound, some types of Cancer can be defeated if discovered in the beginning, I only wished my sister just had done that but at least may be we can all learn for the story, if you get affected either as a patient or as a family member or friend; keep your morale high, it is all in the attitude to defeat this disease. 

Please spread the word about increasing awareness about Cancer may be one day we can defeat it, and we will not loose our loved ones.  As much as I am saddened by my sister passing I feel better that she is not hurting anymore and she did hurt, she did it in silence, I just wished I had time to tell her that I don’t have any grudges that I loved her that no matter how rocky our relationship was, that it never lessened my love for her that, God, I do miss her

Tell everyone you love, how much you love them, you can never know what can happen, come together, love each other, fight cancer in any form, give donations even if it is $1.00 it will help.  Help in the simplest form just by twittering #beatcancer  it collects 1C for each tweet, please spread the word for awareness, October is Breast Cancer awareness and it is the month that saw my sister departure

Sister I want you to know that you are missed, loved and that your kids are taken care of and I will do my best to tell your story may be it can help someone LIVE

– I love you

 Sahar Andrade

www.saharconsulting.com

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9 thoughts on “TO YOU, SISTER!

  1. Dear Sahar,

    Thank you for posting this. My girlfriend of many years, Joy Cantley, died of breast cancer at the age of 44. She was in top physical condition – we ran, rode bikes and worked out together. Your post allows me to ameliorate my sadness, and perhaps share something important with you. Thanks for joining me on linkedIn today.

    With love,

    Ted Alves

    • Ted:
      Whenever we loose someone we love it is very painful thank you for sharing your story with me
      It has been over a year now and I am still dealing with ,ys ister passing away today marls also 4 years of my father passing away but I know that both of them are not suffering anymore and it makes feel a bit better
      Cheers,
      Sahar

  2. Sahar,

    Thank you for sharing this post. She sounds like a strong and courageous woman who didn’t need to know why this was happening to her, because she knew it really doesn’t matter; it was happening to her and she made the best of it she could.

    When my father died of cancer (colon), I was in my mid 20’s and came back home to live with my parents. I changed him, fed him, and through the grace of God and the people of Hospice he was able to die here at home.

    The good thing was you got to see her and be with her, even if what you think you should have said didn’t get said, you were there as were her other loved ones, and I hope she had the peace knowing that she was loved.

    Take care,

    John

    • John:
      Thank you so much for such a heartful and sweet response you actually gave me tears in my eyes reading it, as I know how you exactly felt like I did, seeing your loved ones suffering and feeling so helpless not able to do anything about it.
      I gave an actual live speech yesterday about this and I felt so empowered that may be what I couldn’t do then I can do now, by telling people her story and raise awareness about that ugly enemy that somehow all of us have been affected by: Cancer
      Thank you John
      Sahar

  3. Thank you for posting this–I know your heart breaks, as would mine. Not only did your sister have alot of courage, all of you did and you were a strong support to her. She is no longer in pain, and I hope that you are at peace because she is a very good example on how to fight this horrid disease…and now she is HOME. Thanks again Sahar.

    Love,
    Leslie

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  6. Really appreciate this post. Your story resonates.

    One more small but easy thing you and your readers can do to help raise awareness: check out this 30 sec video — http://www.ahamoment.com/vote/leigh — about the ‘aha moment’ of the woman who launched the Feel Your Boobies t-shirt campaign. If you like it, vote for it with one simple click, as the top vote-getters will be used as aha moment TV commercials next year. And more exposure would be a really good thing.

    Thx again,

    jack@ahamoment.com

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