Here is brother Aaron’s story, with an introduction by Melissa:
"I am sharing my 16 year old son, Aaron’s story today.
He is 2 years younger than Anna, number 2 in the line up, and the oldest son.
He and Anna were joined at the hips from the day he entered the world.
They always spent a portion of each evening together, talking, laughing, writing music, hanging; just being best friends.
It hit him so very hard when Anna was diagnosed.
He’s been so lonely without his best friend."
In Aaron’s words:
“Life Can Change In An Instant”
I think that I can pretty accurately say that almost everyone has heard this saying. It’s one of those universally known sayings, commonly associated with breaking free from the norm and doing something amazing with your life, beacuse you never know when you won’t be able to. I, for one, have heard it so many times that it almost makes me cringe at each mention of it. But it describes so well the situation that everyone in my family has experienced.
One minute everything is normal, just how you’ve known it to be. You’re thinking about that new video game you want, waiting on the season premiere of your favorite tv show, and wasting time all day, mindlessly browsing the internet. Life is pretty mind-numbing, really. But in that one instant, the very foundation that your life is built upon is shaken and none of that other stuff matters.
I know that my older sister, Anna, has truly experienced this “instant change” like no other. Anna was an astoundingly beautful dancer, a very vibrant, intelligent person, and was known for her crazy long hair. Like, seriously, in all of her 16 years of life, she had never cut it.
On August 29th of 2012, my dad and I took her to the ER. That day, all had been completely normal up until the early afternoon, when she began to babble incoherently and fall all over the place, later coming to without any recollection.
I don’t know if I was trying more to reassure Anna or myself, but I was sure it would be a quick in-and-out visit, nothing more than some random insignificant problem. One short, terrifying visit later, though, and Anna was being transported by ambulance to the bigger, more equipped hospital in the middle of the city, a ride of which I was fortunate enough to accompany her on. They had discovered a mass that needed immediately to be reviewed. It was there, that night, of the day that I can most certainly label as the worst day of my life, that the directions of our lives were altered forever.
What resulted, after discovering a cancerous brain tumor, was 3 long, grueling months that my sister and my mom spent in the hospital , enduring countless scans, several sugeries, the highest dosage of radiation possible, many sessions of various therapies, and high dosage rounds of chemo.
Throughout this time, I was very scared, depressed, and had been required to step up to a challenge at home. Anna was the oldest of five siblings, right above me. She was the authority, mother figure, and caretaker; she and I had worked as a tag team regarding helping with various responsibilites around the house. With her gone, my mother with her, and my father working many hours daily, I had to take charge of everything that was left off, like cleaning, schooling with my youngest siblings, keeping up wth my own education, and cooking; none of which I minded. They kept me busy and took my mind off our current situation.
With each small victory, each obstacle Anna overcame, I was encouraged and rejoiced for her, and was ecstatic when they arrived home on November 20, just two days before Thanksgiving. Because of the many things she faced, Anna returned very frail, blind, mentally damaged due to the various procedures, and without her iconic, long hair. It was very hard to see the person I’ve known all of these years, my best friend, so very changed. It was truly a wake up call to the devastation this horrible illness brought about.
Since that day, we’ve taken part in every opportunity to improve Anna’s condition, a long road we’re traveling, I try to find encouragement in each little sign of improvement, and take inspiration from the sheer courage, strength, and unwavering faith she’s demonstrated.
This whole experience, despite the havoc it’s wreaked, has brought about a few positive aspects in my life. It has solidified my faith in Jesus, and proven to me that He really can turn anything around for the better. Also, experiencing firsthand the extent of the physical damage that many children have faced due to some disease or injury, I plan on going to school to be a pediatric physical therapist. I can also say that I, as well as my family and many of of my friends, have been inspired to take part in helping with many local organizations that aid and benefit children suffering from cancer related illnesses.
Despite everything that has happened, and the many challenges that we’ve faced and overcome, I am forever grateful that I’ve been exposed to the reality of the situation, and have the wonderful opportunity to make a difference.