May 15, 2018
How my twin’s Ewing’s sarcoma diagnosis changed me
BY Rayne Parker
Cancer is a really big deal, but I never thought about it like that because no one in my family had ever had it before. Then my twin sister, Aaliyah, was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma in November 2016. We were only 9 at the time. I was pretty scared.
I didn’t talk to my mom or dad about it very much, because I didn’t want to put more stress on them. They had a lot going on, and it felt like talking about how scared I was would just make things worse.
But I learned that it’s OK to cry, to ask questions, and to talk to your parents about how you feel. Talking about it is more helpful than crying alone, and it makes you feel better in the end.
What scared me the most about my twin’s Ewing’s sarcoma diagnosis
My sister and I are identical twins, so at first, I was worried that I might have cancer, too. My sister’s tumor was in her stomach area, and I started feeling all these sharp pains in mine. I knew I wasn’t hungry, because I was scared and didn’t have any appetite. But the pain made me feel kind of woozy and dizzy, and it was hard for me to concentrate on my schoolwork.
My parents asked Aaliyah’s doctors about it, and they said that it was really rare for both twins to get the same cancer. But they did a test on Aaliyah to see if the cancer was genetic. The test showed it wasn’t, so that made me feel better.
The hardest part of my sister’s cancer treatments
Seeing my sister connected to all of those tubes and IV lines was hard. And watching her struggle to get up out of bed after surgery was harder. But being away from Aaliyah so much was probably the hardest part. It was really silent in our room without her, like outer space. It just felt like the world had exploded and nothing was left. I was alone. I cried in my room a lot in the beginning. It felt like 24/7.
It was also hard being separated from our parents. One would be at MD Anderson with Aaliyah, and the other would stay here to take care of me and our two brothers. Our family was split apart a lot. It felt like MD Anderson was a whole country away, and when our parents came back from there, they looked really tired. It made me feel like I was in the Pacific Ocean and Aaliyah was in the Atlantic Ocean.
When Aaliyah lost her hair, I felt really bad for her, too. She was so sad when I got new hairstyles that I just wanted to pull out my own hair and give it all to her.
How I’ve changed since my sister’s Ewing’s sarcoma diagnosis
I always knew that my sister was brave. But she doesn’t even like silly roller coasters, so I didn’t realize how brave she really was. Now, I think she might be braver than me. Because she was having to get all these shots, and sometimes she even gave the shots to herself, which I never would’ve done. I was so proud of her!
Before my sister had cancer, I used to say things like, “Life’s not fair.” But I only said that because I was mad, not sick. Now I see that life’s really not fair for cancer patients, because unlike me, they basically feel sick all the time.
I think I have a lot more sympathy for people going through cancer, too. And everything about life seems to matter more. Like, I used to not pay attention at school. But since Aaliyah got cancer, I do. Mostly, I’m just thankful to have a twin sister who’s a really good fighter. Because she beat cancer’s butt. And I’m so glad she did.
Request an appointment at MD Anderson online or by calling 1-877-632-6789.
It’s OK to cry.