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Brotherly Love

 

"Buddies! Buddies! Buddies!" That is what my brother and I would say to each other. We hoped to go into business together and planned on being roommates before marriage. It never happened. My only brother, who was four years younger than me died of cancer at age 15.

We didn't always have a perfect storybook relationship. We had the typical "brother" arguments like whose turn it was to use the remote control and blaming each other whenever there was a mess in the house. However, we did have many good times together which I will never forget.

When we first discovered Andrew had Cancer, my bags were already packed for our ski trip to Colorado with our father. Andrew noticed a bump on his hip, but thought it was a bruise from playing baseball. After having this "lump" looked at by a doctor, he said. we should cancel the ski trip. I was so upset that our ski trip was canceled. Then, a week later, I found out my brother had cancer. At that point, I forgot all about the ski trip.

Being a caregiver for my brother was difficult because sometimes it seemed like he might have been jealous that I didn't have cancer. Sometimes he got upset with me when I would just attempt to walk in the room. Also, I was a little jealous of all the attention he was getting since everyone in the family was caring for him. Sometimes I even wished I could trade places with him, so I would be the center of attention for a change.

Aggressively trying to find a cure for Andrew meant he was moved from Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida to M.D. Anderson in Houston, Texas. My mother moved to Houston with Andrew. Since I was in college, I stayed in Florida and was only able to visit Andrew a few times in Houston.

When we were together Andrew and I would always talk about baseball. He and I were both avid fans. I was impressed when he received letters from outfielder Tim Raines and a visit from San Diego's Ken Caminiti, then a Houston Astro. It seems like sports figures have a special place for in their hearts for kids who have cancer. Even Mark Duper of the Miami Dolphins came to see Andrew at home. They played Nintendo and Mark watched as Andrew scored a touchdown as Duper on Nintendo. Andrew was thrilled.

I was happy not to be an only child. I thought having a little brother meant I would always have a friend. After having his leg amputated, we found that Andrew's cancer had spread to other parts of his body. There was less and less hope for his survival. It was scary to think I might lose him and end up as that lonely, only child.

After the many failed attempts to help Andrew failed in Houston, he was moved back to Miami. Then I was able to spend more time with him. Some nights I stayed in the hospital with him, bringing my VCR and rented movies. We would stay up really late and watch the movies, just like everything was "normal".
But Andrew was angry at the world. Sometimes he didn't want to see anybody, including me. He was embarrassed by the way he looked, and at other times he just wasn't in the mood. It would hurt my feelings when I really want to care for him and he wouldn't let me. Still, we had to learn to respect his privacy. We needed to give him some time alone.

While registering for my next semester in college, I was beeped by my mother. It was the first time my mother gave me her beeper. Before I left, my mother and I agreed that she would only beep me in an emergency, so when I got the beep, I know what had happened. I was angry that I wasn't there at the exact moment my brother died..

There is a baseball field which Andrew's friends dedicated to him. There's even a plaque with his name on it. The plaque reads: May his dreams come to life on this field. I play softball there every Sunday.

 

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