12. Every step of the way

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We have our first sister duo on the show to share their story with us. You will hear about how they managed stress family members and friends had unintentionally caused and how they were always a team in getting through every situation.

I had fun chatting with the sister duo Bella and Tonia. As someone who didn’t grow up with a sibling under the same roof, I marveled at the close relationship they have with one another. But what was very interesting to me was that, even as close as they were, they still needed to find support and release away from each other sometimes. Like how Bella talked about feeling like she was on an island during treatment even though Tonia was at every doctor’s appointments, or how Tonia would only cry when she wasn’t around Bella, because Tonia knew it would have only stressed Bella out more to see her in distress. I’m glad they both then also talked about what helped them get through, like how Bella found the support groups on FB so she didn’t feel so alone anymore and Tonia would take time out to do things she wanted to do and not be anybody’s caregiver every once in a while.

One thing Bella said that opened my eyes was to surround yourself with people who not only love you, but more importantly, people who will challenge your decision because they know you are making them based on fear or anger. I’m a big advocate for respecting a patient’s decision about their own treatment, especially when it comes to the decision to not pursue treatment. But Bella helped me understand that sometimes a bit of reasoning may be warranted, especially if you can tell that the patient’s decision-making process may be too clouded by negative emotions.

Lastly, I loved their message about there being no shame in asking about resources that may be available to cancer patients. A bit of TLC – whether it’s free massages or gift cards – isn’t going to make everything better but it can help in getting through one day to the next. And as in the example they shared, unless you ask, you won’t always be told what’s available… which honestly boggles my mind but that’s a topic for another day.

Here are some of the resources Bella and Tonia shared:

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Thank you for listening!