Losing your 22 year old brother, when you're 23
My brother Joey and I are so close in age that I always felt more like his twin, instead of his older sister. We grew up doing everything together; we are best friends. Almost 8 months ago I lost Joey to a rare and aggressive cancer. He fought for 18 months before passing away at home surrounded by myself, my husband, and my parents.
I have detailed my story in a blog from a few months after Joey was diagnosed, to a month or so after he passed away.
This was because I couldn't and still cannot find hardly any support for siblings that have lost other siblings to cancer. Especially in their early twenties; that in-college/young adult age when you're leaving the nest and starting your own life...
Joey was diagnosed two days after his 21st birthday. It was a tragic and unexpected diagnosis - as he was in the Army National Guard and in the best shape of his life. He went into the ER for a routine appendectomy, and the doctor came out to tell us his abdominal region was caked in tumors.
Three weeks later we went to Pittsburgh for a 12-hour debulking HIPEC procedure where he lost many full or pieces of organs. He would undergo several aggressive chemo treatments and surgeries... suffering numerous complications. In January 2013, we moved him to Texas because the chemo didnt work and Joey was expected to have weeks to a couple of months.Texas sent him back to Pittsburgh in June (to be closer to home since they also could not help), and by the first week of July, Joey was back in Central NY...on hospice. He passed away three weeks later, on August 1st.
18 months and never a solid diagnosis. His cancer was unique to him; he was of 2% of cancers that are considered "undefined" ...
My heart is still broken, and I am expecting my first child in May. Joey would have been an incredible uncle, and I have him to thank for this gift. My husband and I tried for a year and a half to get pregnant and with no luck. The day before Joey passed he promised me to ask God to give me a baby. A month later, I found out we were expecting, and they told us the baby's conception was between August 3 - August 10th.
Joey gave us a miracle. And I wish so badly he were here with us. But I know he's watching, and someday, somehow, I will see him again.