By: Cara Horsfield
The summer going into the 8th grade I heard the worst words I had ever heard in my life, “Your sister has cancer.” I still feel my heart sink when I think about it to this day. Cait had been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) just before her 16th birthday.
Luckily, my sister is healthy and well now thanks to the amazing people who took care of her. There are so many moving parts to a pediatric cancer care team who provide treatment to patients like my sister, but the role which resonated the most with me was that of the nurse.
Her nurses always took the time to make my sister feel special and take care of our whole family. They were not just medical professionals who provided care, but people who made days enjoyable and life livable. They got to know my sister on a deeply personal level and always made sure to keep encouraging her to pursue her passions. They were supportive of her finishing school while doing treatment, they always commented on her amazing sense of style, and they worked closely with child life to ensure that siblings and friends know the best ways to be supportive. We were truly in the best hands imaginable. They even took time out of their extremely busy days to address me, the confused 12-year-old, answer my questions, and be a constant source of encouragement throughout the hardest phase of my life.
Thanks to the hard work of Cait’s team, I have been blessed with opportunities to experience so many wonderful things with my big sister. She showed me her love of world travel and we got to live together in Spain for six months while I studied abroad. We got to experience playing lacrosse on a team together in high school, and since then I have just been so lucky to go through life with her continued support. Her presence at every major life event for me and my two younger siblings never goes unnoticed and she is truly the greatest older sister who inspires me every day. She embodies the saying my mother always told us as kids, “Improvise, adapt, and overcome.” She is a pillar of strength who can overcome any challenge.
I knew when I decided to be a nurse that I was going to pay forward that kindness to others struggling with what I have already experienced and do my best to create more life events with cherished family members. I am so excited to have the opportunity to be an advocate and support system for the pediatric cancer population and to be a reminder that nobody has to fight this battle alone.
I am forever grateful to all of our amazing pediatric oncology nurses and to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation’s SuperSibs Program. The SuperSibs program was a literal lifeline for me when I felt so alone. I can’t wait to share the program with my hospital when the time comes!
I cannot even begin to explain how blessed I feel to be given this opportunity to work as a part of the most trusted profession and to serve families like mine.
We understand that childhood cancer affects the whole family, not only the child who receives the diagnosis. SuperSibs is dedicated to comforting, encouraging, and empowering siblings during their family’s battle against childhood cancer so they can face the future with courage and hope. Learn more about SuperSibs here.