Growing up we were the “two little ones” – joined at the hip, dressed alike, people thought we were twins. Our teenage years found us filled with mischief, laughter and rebellion – we became the “two hellions.” Our twenties and thirties took us in opposite directions, partially attributed to life and occasionally self-induced. We regrouped ten years ago for a family trip to Italy and once again became the “two hellions” causing havoc abroad. And now it’s only ironic we share the same cancer journey. Meet my sister Jeanne.
Funny, passionate, caring and adventurous, she’s always had a zest for life. We are opposites on so many levels yet similar just as much. Admiring her strength and determination from afar, I was not present for her cancer journey as I was engulfed in my own battles. But Jeanne attacked her diagnosis with tenacity and vigor, resigned to crush it as David did Goliath. The awareness she had surrounding her fight was truly like no other. And that’s just who she’s always been.
Growing up I envied Jeanne for the carefree life she led. While I was wasting time being overly concerned with what people thought, she just did what she wanted. Longing for that spirit, there were times Jeanne helped me break out of my own prison showing me what life could offer. And now I see glimpses of her in Gia.
Jeanne has guided me along this bump in the road providing insight and info – sometimes too much – but all out of love. Occasionally we’ve clashed but the anger quickly subsides as matters more pressing are at hand. Checking in on me almost daily, I’m reminded how important family can be – when no one else has your back, they usually do. As I see Jeanne now, the gusto has returned to her step – healthy with hair growth – relishing a company trip to Hawaii. Her appetite for life is back!
Smiling as I write, it was Jeanne that coined my nickname “Jif” on our Italy family trip because of the infamous “hair cut short in order to pack a jar of Jif peanut butter in lieu of a blow dryer.” And now, life comes full circle – the hair cut once again, #peanutbutterforbeth and an almost identical cancer journey.
Maybe my mother instinctly knew that one day all of the matching outfits and pigtails would symbolize an unanticipated future bond.
Love, strength and hugs to you sis!