I’ll never forget the day a social worker sat with me in my living room and told me that it was normal to want my brother to die. My younger siblings and I had spent countless nights talking about one thing: how we wished my brother’s excruciating pain from cancer would be over, so things could just get better. So we could get better.
It sounds awful and selfish, doesn’t it? On the other hand, it makes sense. After seeing my brother limp around with a bionic leg, hearing him throw up in the bathroom, being too weak to even pick up a guitar—his passion in life—why would I want his pain to go on? But then, how could I want his life, a life I cherished so dearly, to end?
As the social worker said, “You’re going to want it to be over, that’s totally normal, and it will feel pretty icky. This is the hardest part, right before his life ends.” I came away from that meeting feeling a remarkable sense of relief. I had never heard truer words than “It will feel pretty icky.” And I had never heard more hopeful words than “totally normal.”
As the older sister of a young adult who passed away from cancer, I can’t stress enough how much your support means to families like ours. If just one short interaction with a social worker could change my end-of-life experience with my brother, just think of the lasting impact that Angela Smith, MD, MS, and Jennifer Needle, MD, MPH will have on families everywhere through their end-of-life interventions.
In many ways, your support of Children’s Cancer Research Fund will help families navigate some of the most confusing, difficult and painful decisions they’ll ever have to make in their lives. And in the process, the roadmap you’re providing by supporting Dr. Needle and Dr. Smith’s work will alleviate so much of the stress that comes with losing a loved one.
Although some young adult cancers cannot yet be cured, your support helps families heal, and that is invaluable.
Written by Alli Shoemaker
Alli is the older sister of Zach Sobiech, who passed away from osteosarcoma in May 2013.