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Coping with Cancer: A Supersib Story

Every child diagnosed with cancer has a story, and so does every cancer sibling. Maddie Dove’s journey as a Supersib began with her sister Lily’s diagnosis, but changed once again when her sister Bailey was also diagnosed. Learn more about this journey changed her, her sisters, and their family, and the strength that they found together.

The Diagnoses That Changed Everything

If you are reading this, I’m sure you have read plenty of blogs about cancer. My assumption would be that most of those are from the parent’s or patient’s point of view. I would just like to give you a little insight into what it is like to be the sibling of a kid with cancer. Or in my case, two.

I’m Maddie Dove, I’m 18 and I’m a senior in high school. Unfortunately, cancer has been a sort of barrier in my life since I was 10. I still remember the day my sister, Lily, got diagnosed as if it happened just last week. It was June 21, 2013, and she had been sick in the week leading up to her appointment. Bailey and I sat alone in the waiting room for what felt like hours as they sent Lily back and forth between getting her blood drawn and the pediatrics department. Once my dad left work to come to the clinic, and my mom came out with tears in her eyes, I knew whatever we were experiencing was going to be more challenging than any of us had expected.

The date Bailey got diagnosed felt just as surreal as Lily’s. Although we basically knew what to expect, and had a prediction to what her diagnosis was, having been through this already gave us both a positive and negative insight into what to expect in the coming years.

Coping with Cancer

So, here’s my story, how I coped as a sibling. As is the case with most siblings, during the first couple weeks I felt afraid. Afraid for what the months ahead had planned for us, afraid for how everything would be handled, afraid of the unknown. While watching my sisters go through treatment, I found myself having to mature faster than most of the other kids my age. I now learned what life experiences are deemed “big issues.” It’s common for teenagers to become overly dramatic about some of their hardships, but I had seen firsthand how threatening some aspects of life can be.

In addition to this, I worried about the health of my sisters more than myself. I think this is common in most cancer siblings, but aspects of myself have changed since before these diagnoses. I have become more reclusive and anxious, fearing the worst is always ahead. I also started to feel lonelier, which is probably expected once the other sibling is sick. It made sense why it felt as if my siblings were getting more attention than myself.

A New Path

In a way, cancer has also positively changed my life. I now plan to go into nursing school in college so that I can work in oncology and save the lives of other kids. If you had told me 7 years ago that I would want to be in the medical field so that I could work with cancer kids, I would have wondered how you made up that information. Cancer is a life changer, but it has a way of revealing the strongest people, whether it is a patient or their sibling. Although the struggle isn’t the same for both, it is a prominent force in our lives.

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