I woke up last night about 2 am and the first person that popped into my mind was my sister, Roberta. Then it dawned on me that Bert, a 5 year breast cancer survivor, passed away 13 years ago. She was diagnosed and had a mastectomy at 42 years of age. She took the usual cocktail of drugs at the time . I can remember her talking about 5-FU which she would call the "5-F_ _k you" drug because it made her so sick. She also experienced all those wonderful side effects like hair loss and weight loss and her one arm was swollen. I do recall she had some very nice wigs that really made her look like herself although I bet she never thought so. (I never thought my wig made me look anything like the real me. ) She liked her doctor at Morristown . But when she recurred, she had a bone marrow transplant at Hackensack one of the few hospitals at the time in the state that were doing the transplants( If I remember correctly.) She spent weeks in isolation so that she could spend some quality time with her two children, Alycia and Robert. She was tired but I never remember her really complaining when I would visit but then that was probably to protect me her "little" sister! She still went about her daily chores as best she could taking care of the house and making meals for her husband, Mike and the kids as her mother-in -law and Aunt helped her.
Thirteen years ago people were still guarded about mentioning they had cancer.She wore a wig all the time. I visited usually with my own two small children in tow so I never really got a chance to talk seriously about her cancer. I tried to keep things upbeat and fun thinking that she wanted time away from the disease. I hope I was right about that. Two years ago when I was going through my treatment I would think how great it would have been to call Bert and ask her how she got through it all. I still miss being able to say "Love Ya" to her on the phone.
Her children are adults now- Alycia a pediatric resident working at the same hospital she received her transplant in and Robert who is working and living in Manhattan. They are responsible , compassionate and fun loving adults, who my sister would be proud of. I certainly am!