I Learnt How To Be Strong

My name is Jack and I am 15 years old. I am a bereaved sibling residing in Townsville. My only sister Amy was 7 years young when she was diagnosed with brain cancer on the 17th of December 2007.

When my parents first told me that my sister has cancer, I was unsure on how to feel and smiled with confusion as it was like some sort of joke. But then I learnt how to be strong and supportive towards my family. We went to Brisbane Hospital where Amy had her chemotherapy and radiation treatment then back up to my home town, Townsville, and practically lived with my Aunty. I had a choice either to stay in Townsville with my Aunty or go down to Brisbane to stay with my family. I made the decision to stay in Townsville to continue with grade 6 and keep away from the grief and hassle of being in a hospital. Occasionally I flew down to Brisbane with excitement to see my family which was the best feeling. When I first went to the hospital to see Amy I burst into tears seeing what it was doing to her.

After ages of chemo and radiation she had been given the green light to go home which she and I were so looking forward to.

Dad and I got the news from Mum while we were fishing. It was one of the only things I remember her telling me which was that all she wanted to do was come home and play toy cars with me, which was our favourite hobby to do together. My mother found out about CanTeen and I was signed in a couple of months before my sister actually passed away after the long 16 months of treatment and suffering. She passed away on the 31th of March 2009 when she was 9.

After her death life just sank down.

I was finding it hard to cope and realised that my sister actually died and I am an only child now. My school, family and friends from school, CanTeen and Camp Quality were very supportive of me and helped me cope. It took me a while to get back on my feet and start going back to school and to realise that in CanTeen I am a ‘bereaved sibling’ not just a ‘sibling’. My cancer journey has taught me to support my family and others suffering from cancer and to be less selfish and more caring because now my sister has passed away I regret not helping out my sister and my parents when they really needed it. Now I try to be most supportive to both my family and friends who might be going through a tough time.

Straight after my sister’s death people at school began to act much nicer than usual and became really friendly. I hardly knew some of them and they became really supportive, but this didn’t last long. Even though I am out there in support of my friends, they began to forget about what had happened to me and stopped being so great. This was hard because after going through so much I often wonder about who the important people arein my life. Friends, who are always there for me, stick by me and who I find it easy to talk to, are.

I’ve changed and become someone who doesn’t tolerate the stupid stuff that normal teenagers do, such as trying to be the cool and popular one.

All my other friends were like this except me. But who would want to be friends with someone who’s not like this? Because of this, it became a daily routine of fighting and arguing with some of my friends and this was hard. Fighting but making new friends is life. My life.

A life with regrets but also happiness of remembering all the important people that have stuck by my side such as my real family and my Canteen family. Not the ones at school. Without Canteen in my life, I don’t know how I would have coped. These are people who have been through all the things in life that you have been through and who will stick by you for life.