A few days ago I stood in line at CVS in New City waiting for the kind cashier to ring up my bag of Dunkin Donuts French Vanilla coffee, iron tablets and whole wheat bread. I looked beyond her to see the rows and stacks of cigarette cartons and single packs. I felt sick and angry.
My mind immediately went to my brother. It’s frightening where the mind can wander with just a visual prompting, a strong association of why my brother has now endured two rounds of 96 hours straight chemotherapy, steroids and anti-nausea medications.
My older brother was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 pyriform sinus cancer.
When we first spoke he said, “Please don’t feel sorry for me, it’s my fault.”
He smoked for years, trying many times to quit.
“I don’t feel sorry for what you did,” I said “but nobody should have to go through this kind of pain.”
Of course the “don’t smoke” lesson hit hard around my house that day and I hope that my two teenagers heard it loud and clear.
My brother is the proverbial “tough guy.” Motorcycle riding, tattoo wearing, he wears life on his sleeve with gusto. He is kind hearted and passionate---a wonderful cook and brother. His life is now one
filled with fear, confusion, grief, pain and many unanswerable questions.
But when the doctor most recently said “How are you feeling Robert?” he said, “Great, bring it on doc, give me anything you have to kill this damn thing.”
He is strong and he is on a mission. In his mind fear does not have a place in him right now, the battle has begun.
After researching the cancer and wrapping my head around as much as I could muster I did what any sister would do--I went shopping. I bought a few books that I knew my brother would love, sports autobiographies, stories of adversity where the protagonist beats all odds and Play Like you Mean It by the Jets Coach Rex Ryan; a pair of cozy pajamas and a plastic water bottle. Damn, if my brother has cancer he is going to get gifts.
The next day my husband and I met my younger brother at the supermarket and bought any food that could be designated “healthy” and easy on the throat and a cart full of vegetables. We arrived at my brother’s house in full cancer party mode. With gifts, groceries and my Jack LaLanne power juicer in hand.
We rang the bell.
“What is this?” he queried, after seeing our arms full of loot. “It’s a Cancer Party.” I said as I pushed past him ready to start making the romaine lettuce, carrot, apple and fennel juice concoction I had in mind.
“Can you put some steak, potatoes and beer in that thing?" my brother asked as we joked about the size and strength of this mega juicing machine.
We sat in the backyard with our green drinks and chatted the day away. It was a beautiful day for a party. Yes, a cancer party.
As weeks and months go by, we will visit my brother often as a family and bring more food and gifts.
As Martha Stewart would say, “It’s a good thing.”