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.

Comments for Losing your 22 year old brother, when you're 23

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Mar 31, 2014
Losing your 22 year old brother, when you're 23
by: Doreen UK

I am so sorry for your loss of your brother Joey to a rare cancer. The cancer journey is a horrendous one that affects the whole family. It is the very pits to lose a sibling at such a young age to such a dreadful disease.
It was March 28th 2009 when we got the dreadful news that my husband Steve had a rare and serious cancer caused by working with ASBESTOS. His cancer was inoperable, incurable, aggressive and terminal. He had Chemo twice and Radiotherapy 10 sessions. I nursed him for just over 3yrs. and he died 23 months ago. This is such a hard battle to go through. Worse when it is a sibling and you have this VOID in your life. I am sorry for your loss and how this is affecting you at a time when you are carrying a child and should have relative peace and calm. I hope all goes well with your pregnancy. Try and stay as calm as you can presently.
I suffered depression with my first child and he was born in foetal distress and had the cord wrapped around his arm and groin and neck. I was 19yrs. at the time. Which is why I hope you can have a peaceful pregnancy. I wish you all the best and hope that God will sustain you and give you His Peace and comfort at this difficult time.
Best wishes.

Mar 29, 2014
Your brother
by: Anonymous

My daughter In law just heard her 32 yr old brother has a "fast moving cancer" her heart is crushed. He is in the hospital but I know your blog will help her,how kind of you. My son died at 39 and his siblings are broken hearted. Death is cruel and your brother and best friend so close to you,that I had to write. You are not alone in your pain. Take one day at a time. Healing is a done day by day. Love to you.

Mar 29, 2014
My son Alan 26
by: Ellen Mclean

Sorry for your loss, I lost my son Alan to DVT very suddenly, but Alan has 2 brothers Andrew and jack but Andrew was like you and joey, there was only 18months between them they did everything together they were like best mates , Andrew is finding it very hard with out him he lost frustrated its hard to watch, but I,ll tell him about yous to let him know he's not alone , Alan never seen Andrews daughter or his son Alan would have made a great uncle to, I think your brave and good luck and good health to you all x

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