• Life

    She has cancer.

    Breast Cancer Logo Butterfly

    September 30, 2014. The phone call. We heard the words. I wasn’t surprised based on the weeks leading up to that day. We are three girls in our family. We rally when we need to. Doctors’ appointments followed by waiting. Then the diagnosis. Our baby sister then 34, was starting a battle that claims so many. A mom of three and really a baby herself (at least to her two older sisters), our baby sister was scared to death. And so were we.

    October 2014 – A small smile hides the many worries before starting treatment…..

    And so it began…. six months of doctors’ visits, hospital visits, chemo, baldness, finding strength, and being so sick. Her daughter, then five, struggled to understand – even asking mommy not to come to school. Then, the day after her 35th birthday – surgery. Her life and her body were permanently altered. Watching her fight the battle was intense, sometimes surreal, and always painful. I wished so badly to take it away from her. For her.

    2015…… Surgery day

    Five years later, she is healthy and living life to its fullest. She ‘takes no shit,’ loves with her heart on her sleeve, and sees every detail in her world. She slayed the dragon but is always aware that another could appear. Now happily married to her soul mate, she makes no apologies for living life on her terms. She is wild. And mouthy. Responsible. And loving. Purposeful. And carefree. She is authentic.

    April 2018 – Wedding Day!

    On this five-year anniversary, and ironically on the eve of Breast Cancer Awareness month – a fact that did not go unnoticed five years ago for us – I remind you with love and awareness – to take care of yourself and support those fighting cancer.

    Love you, Baby Sister….

  • Life,  Process

    Please Don’t Come to My School When You’re Bald, Mommy: Helping Wee Ones Understand Cancer {Slice of Life}

    I have two sisters. I am the oldest. And the bossiest, they would tell you. Whatever.  I adore them. More than they will ever know. I adore their children even more. Their respective other halves are pretty awesome, too, but this post isn’t about the adults.  Mostly.

    It’s about wee ones. And cancer. And understanding. And strength.

    Here goes…..

     

    Recently, just two weeks into #BabySister’s chemotherapy, she sent me a text message that broke my heart. To be clear, there have been many since this journey began, but this one was particularly difficult:

    cancersucks3

    Yes, our sister is a fighter. Her strength is her shield.  She’ll tell you, “She’s Got This” ~ loud.and.clear.  Let there be no doubt.  But sometimes, I believe, being vulnerable is your strength.

    As for our niece, she is feisty, indeed. Just.like.her.mother.  But… she is five. It’s hard for wee ones to understand.

    It’s also hard for us to hear our baby sister’s fear and anger, because we want to protect her. She IS the baby. Even at 34.   Fortunately, she turns fear and anger on their ear and takes back her strength, her determination and… her sense of humor.   Immediately.

    In response to her message, I suggested, “We need to get that child a bald Barbie!”

    Sister:   lol … They make those?

    Me:   Yes!  Aunt Robin will find her one!

    So, with a little research, I learned that Mattel didn’t make bald Barbie until a couple of moms took up the cause back in 2012.  Read more {here}.  But, those dolls are only given to cancer patients in hospitals, Mattel stating they “…. don’t want to make any profit from them.”

    Noble. {insert sarcasm here} How about giving customers the option to purchase them for little girls whose mommies are going through treatment? What a customer-centric business decision that could be!  Mattel, are you listening??

    Turns out, someone else was!  Here’s what who I found instead:

    Moxie Doll, Avery
    Meet, True Hope Avery!

    Perfect!  I promptly had Avery shipped to our niece, and waited….

    Before True Hope Avery arrived, mommy had to shave her head. Day 20 of #BabySister’s treatment:

    Woman getting her head shaved due to chemo

    As you can see, she was channeling all that strength to make this a positive experience … for everyone.  Wee one sat close by, along with her brothers.  There were many pictures taken that night. They are priceless, ones I’ll cherish as long as I live.

    Wee one had a few days to adjust to mommy’s new look… apparently.

    Avery arrived on their doorstep a few days later. #BabySister videotaped the introduction.  Worried that I had overstepped my boundaries, mommy reassured me it was okay, and showed me wee one’s candid reaction. It is the cutest thing you could imagine seeing. I cry every time I watch it.  And I’m amazed.

    I ripped the audio so I could share it, while protecting wee one.  I invite you to click play, close your eyes, and listen to wee one’s response when her mommy asks her what she notices different about Avery….. 

    [vimeo 113331896 w=500 h=281]

    What’s missing from this list of attributes?

    We were stunned!  Not a word about Avery’s beautiful (and very obvious) bald head.

    #BabySister:    Is she pretty?

    Wee one:    Yea! I love her eyes!

    Yes, our niece is five. But she gets it. Beauty is more than hair.

    I’m told it was a few hours later when she finally asked, “Hey! Where’s her hair??”

    So I ask you, who’s helping whom to understand????

    Oh, and as for mommy…. she’s all over town, sporting her new bald noggin… and she is, I’m sure our niece would agree, the most beautiful person ever!!!  I’m pretty sure she’ll turn up at school soon… You’ll recognize mommy and wee one. They’ll be the ones with the super-cute matching hats, scarves…. or, just earrings.  No hat required.   😉

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