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My Sister by Darcie Toom

October 23, 2009

My sister, Chelsea, had waited until a little later in life to find love. She was 35 when she started dating Matt. They quickly fell in love and a few months later, were engaged. Chelsea felt that for the first time, things were really falling into place. She had a job that she liked, a man that she loved, and soon would have two new step daughters and a new home for them all.

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Right after they moved into their new home, and a month before they were to be married, I got a call from my sister. She was crying and blurted out, “I have cancer.” I said, “I’ll be right there,” and rushed over to her house.

We were all in shock. My mom and dad were there too, but none of us knew what to say.  The timing seemed like some kind of cruel trick. But at the same time, we all knew that God has a plan for each of us.

After finding out about the cancer, Chelsea questioned whether Matt still wanted to get married. He had buried his first wife only a few years before and was understandably shaken. He said of course he still wanted to get married, and the wedding plans went ahead, along with a schedule for chemo.

Exactly one week before her wedding, my sister started to lose her hair. She decided to have a head shaving party and we all took turns cutting out chunks of hair. She even tried out a Mohawk before shaving it down to bare skin. I was quite impressed at how good she looked bald, and even more impressed with the way she handled it.

 

One week later, she was getting ready for her wedding. It was a bitter sweet moment—my mom helping her with her dress and wig. She’s always changed her hair so often that no one would have known the difference. But, of course, they already knew what had happened. I was sure that she would pull the wig off during the reception, (you’d have to know my sister to understand) but to my surprise, she didn’t. It was a beautiful night!

After the wedding, they decided to postpone their honeymoon until Chelsea was feeling better. Then came more rounds of chemo, radiation, surgery, reconstruction surgery, losing fingernails, losing her job, gaining weight, growing hair back (even if it was curly and black).  All this, plus settling in with her new husband and his two daughters, in the first year of marriage.

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So far, the cancer has not returned, but she’s not out of the woods yet. She had a very aggressive type of cancer, and nearly all the risk factors that make it worse. I know she’ll continue to worry as each check up rolls around. But even if it does return, I know she’ll be ready to fight again. She has stayed strong through this whole process, and it has changed her forever. I’m very proud of the way she’s handled herself, never losing faith that God would pull her through this. I hope that if I ever have to face my own battle with cancer, or any other illness, I can do it as well as she has.