10 Sep What it’s like to live with a younger brother who has cancer by Maisy Bennett-Day
When I was forwarded this Facebook message by my mother, I simply read over it, you could say I’m quite a closed book when delicate issues like this are raised. But for some reason, this stuck in the back of my mind. I knew I should share my experience with other people because potentially, I know there are girls and boys out there my age who are going through the same thing. Although you feel completely isolated and alone, there are still people out there.
I think as soon as you hear the word ‘cancer’ people ultimately tend to run away from the topic. They ask you ‘how is he?’ just so they feel as they’ve just done their justice. They expect you to say he’s doing well when you know, things couldn’t be further from that.
I’ve tried to write this a few times now, but every time I turn it into some sob story about my mental health or start to tear up in a coffee shop.
So, this time, I’m going to try and be as positive as I can be. Although there is so much negativity around this subject and believe me, I’m not saying that Ru’s diagnosis was an easy ride. But I simply cannot change his illness. How heart-wrenching it is to see him in so much pain, I have to look for the silver lining. All I can do now is be optimistic. For all he knows, he thinks every four-year-old go’s through what he’s going through. He has no idea he’s different. I will continue to spend all precious time with him and cherish beautiful moments because in just a click, things could turn.
I believe, his diagnosis has brought our family into such a close bond and I’m eternally grateful for that. If I’m half as brave as my parents are today, I’d consider myself a warrior. Although my parent’s minds work in very different ways that’s what brings them close together, they need each other to survive.
I think over the past eighteen months I’ve changed a lot
Both good and bad. Good because I now see the world completely different to how someone my age would see it. Life is so beautiful and precious, one moment you’re here, the next you’re gone. I will say although I try to dive myself into a mindset of positivity I equally have had some major rough times. I’ve mostly kept it to myself, mainly the reason because I can’t actually explain and formulate words from what’s going on in my head to speech, but also, it somehow felt less real, less important. The worst thing as well, is when someone says, “why are you upset?” and you can’t actually answer the question specifically because you don’t know yourself, you’ve never been taught about stuff like this, yeah don’t get me wrong education is important but does school teach you the right education? Never once have I been taught about mental health or how to cope with it. So, I don’t blame myself for not knowing or not sharing it with anyone, when you have a growing pain inside your head, you start to differentiate yourself from others.
All you know is that you have an unbearable pain hooking onto you like an anchor does to a ship
For the sake of people reading this, I will admit that yes, I’ve had horrible thoughts that I don’t want to really go into much detail about, but the worst thought I’ve had and always lingers in the back of my mind is “my youngest brother is going through such an incredibly hard time and here I am, doubting my own life, how utterly selfish could I possibly be?”
I sometimes refer to how I’m feeling to the sea.
Motionless and melancholy.
Ru’s first seven or eight months were supposed to be the worst, and no doubt of it, they were.
He wasn’t him. He wasn’t Ru.
And like his name, Ru was different, just by himself, he lightened the room made everyone smile with his witty comments that he’s picked up from older family members. So, to see him detached from the world was so disheartening.
The reason why I stood so strong in these months was because of my family, not one of my friends asked how things were going on at home or gave a second thought to how I was doing. This is not to say my friends aren’t looking out for me, I love them so much and forever grateful to have found such a lovely group of people.
You could say it was mostly my fault, I didn’t tell anyone, so I have no one to blame. It must be me, my own mentality did this. It felt as if an overgrown garden, things spiralling out of control escaping from everywhere. It’s only me who can stop this, and I will, step by step I will build myself back up.
School is hard, home is even harder, my only place I felt myself was my bedroom
And over the years I’ve tended to isolate myself there, it’s a habit I still carry with me now.
Sometimes, I have a lot of built-up anger, and it piles up until it bursts, I can’t let it out at home or to my friends, so it was usually at school, I went through a period of really misbehaving and trying to get into lots of trouble. When really, it was just a cry for some attention and help.
Over the last couple of months, I’ve stepped outside of my own boots and looked at my own life. I need to change, thinking about how I did isn’t healthy for anyone. But now I’ve started to open up to people, whether it be counselling or to a blank page on a computer, sometimes I feel like it doesn’t work, but I know it’s more progressive than folding in on myself.
So… a couple months to a year later, I’ve gained more help and have started to become more open to how I’m feeling. I’ve started to accept myself and the thoughts that go through my head and that maybe I might need some help.
For this, I feel like I’ve already become a better version of myself and I will continue to do so.