April 10th is National Siblings Day. You know, your parents’ other children who push your buttons just right, make you laugh when you least expect it, or get you in trouble with mom and dad? Yeah, those people – your brother or sister, older or younger, today’s the day to show them that they are an important person in your life!
For National Siblings Day, we checked in with the brothers and sister of some of the 2020 St. Baldrick’s Ambassadors! Childhood cancer impacts the entire family, and we want to share what it feels like to be a sibling of a kid with cancer. Meet some remarkable kids who opened up to us about their experience!
Asher – Micah’s Older Brother
Asher is three and a half years older than Micah. The boys were quite young when Micah was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, so their relationship as siblings hadn’t had time to fully blossom. That was eight years ago, now they have really learned how to get under each other’s skin but also have moments of cooperation and camaraderie.
Asher, how would you describe your brother Micah?
He’s smart. He tries to make us laugh.
How did Micah’s cancer diagnosis impact your life?
I was staying with my grandparents a lot and didn’t see my parents as much. While I wish he didn’t have cancer, I was also able to meet a lot of great people and do interesting things as a result.
Did you do any special things for Micah to keep him happy when he was getting treatment?
No, I didn’t really see him much when he was in treatment.
**Although their parents told us that on visits to the hospital it was a treat for both boys to sit together in bed and watch TV. They would also ride tricycles in the garden together. When Micah was in isolation for multiple weeks, Asher would video chat with his little brother.
What else would you like others to know about what it’s like to have a brother who was diagnosed with cancer?
That it affects the whole family, not just the kid with cancer.
Asher and Micah’s mom and dad want other families to know that childhood cancer can impact the sibling bond, but during treatment it can provide a sense of normalcy even if that’s through a brotherly argument or through laughter.
Sheridan – Shamari’s Younger Sister
Twelve-year-old Sheridan is Shamari’s younger sister. The girls had about 10 years of normal sisterhood before Sharmari’s diagnosis. Their parents say that Sheridan has always been compassionate, which showed even more as her sister went through treatment. There wasn’t much of a change in their relationship when they learned of Shamari’s osteosarcoma diagnosis — the girls have always had a very good relationship and have always looked out for one another.
What would you like others to know about what it’s like to have a sister who was diagnosed with cancer?
I am more thankful for her being my sister. When I first found out she was diagnosed with cancer, I was scared that it would spread and could be deadly.
How has cancer changed her — and how has her diagnosis changed you?
She got a lot more attention. She seemed to be less shy and talk more to people. I was also able to receive attention when she went through treatment. I was constantly asked how things were going and how Shamari was doing. People were always giving Shamari presents and most times they didn’t want to leave me out, so I got things as well.
For me, her diagnosis has made me more aware of what someone has to go through when a sibling is going through cancer treatment and how they are feeling.
What do you remember about your sister having cancer?
I remember when I would visit the hospital, she would have random bursts of energy and then suddenly be calm again. She was nice to me when she was going through treatment. I felt lonely when my mom and Shamari were in the hospital, I would call but it just wasn’t the same. The cheeseburgers from Rainbow Hospital were so good! Although, I had to eat in another room since the smell of certain foods made Shamari sick.
What special things did you do to help support her when she was getting treatment?
I would talk with her, make TikToks with her and milkshakes. We would play basketball in the playroom at the hospital. I went trick or treating for her when she was still in treatment and unable to go. I would bring her whatever she needed from home to the hospital. I tried to do whatever I could when she asked.
According to their parents, now the girls just act like regular sisters…some days they get along and other days they are fighting. And according to Sheridan, Shamari is “back to feeling like herself because she is mean to me again!”
Nathaniel – Seth and Joel’s Older Brother
Nathaniel is the big brother to twins Seth and Joel, who are now angels. The three boys loved to play together, Nathaniel would usually take the lead (he loved being the boss) and Seth and Joel would happily do whatever he said. The boys had a strong sibling bond and were very close, their parents recall the times when they were at home and away from the hospital when the three of them would play together—”it was the best thing in the world!” Nathaniel, Seth and Joel were the best of friends.
What are some of things that you used to do with your brothers?
One of the many things I did with my brothers was play with construction vehicles. We probably have more of them than any other toy besides Legos.
Joel was definitely the rougher one, so we wrestled more often. He also liked to go outside to play more. Seth was much less crazy. The only fighting he did was over who got to sit in the front of the laundry basket when I took them for a ride.
Did you get along well with Seth and Joel?
Well, depends on the situation. If one of them had given me part of their cookie at dinner, I would love them extra. If one of them had knocked over the Lego tower I had been working on, I would be a little grumpy. I love them either way.
We asked mom and dad to share a touching or funny memory about the boys during treatment and their answer showed how close the three really were:
We tried to get our family together at the hospital as much as we could so that everyone could be together, even if it was just for a short time. We would walk around the oncology floor as a family. Everyone loved to see Seth and Joel and Nathaniel together. Sometimes during physical therapy, the boys would see Elsa, the therapy dog, in the hallway and they’d all crowd around together to pet her. Sometimes Joel would be the police officer chasing Nathaniel around the hallways (Nathaniel pretended to be the criminal). All three boys loved to make Play-doh creations in the hospital. Or read books together in their hospital room.
Nathaniel is all-in to #DFYchildhoodCancers. He participated as a shavee this year, which he thought was pretty cool! He likes that “anybody can raise money and shave their heads to help kids in the hospital.” What’s even cooler? Nathaniel was in the top spot for fundraising at his event, he never thought he’d raise that much money for anything!
Siblings are pretty amazing people that we can sometimes take for granted. Have you reached out to your brother or sister today to let them know how much you love them? It’s National Siblings Day, so make sure that you pick up that phone or send them a note.
Thanks to Asher, Sheridan and Nathaniel for showing us how important it is to be a brother or a sister, especially during difficult times.
Join us today and #DFYchildhoodCancers!
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