My Brother’s Cancer Diagnosis

Hi my name is Emilee and I am 15. My brother was diagnosed with a germ cell tumour in October of 2006.

When I was 11, on the 16th of October 2006 I went with my dad to take my 14 year old brother who had been suffering headaches for a CT scan.

After leaving the radiology place we went to pick my mum up from work because it was her birthday. The first thing I had to tell her was that I found out that day that one of my really good friends was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (A.L.L).

I was really shocked and scared

because I didn’t know anything about leukaemia except that it was bad. Just before we left the office the phone rang and it was the radiology people to tell mum that she had to take my brother to the doctor first thing in the morning because they found something on the scan. We weren’t really worried because we didn’t think it would be anything, boy were we wrong.

Just over 30 Hrs later my family was gone, I was staying with family friends and we didn’t know if my brother could be fixed or when I would be seeing them again.

My brother underwent brain surgery

as soon as they arrived at the hospital. He had a 5.5cm Intracranial Pineal Non-Germinomatous Germ Cell Tumour. Mum and Dad kept in touch but I didn’t feel like I knew what was going on. This was made worse by the fact that everyone was talking about him and us and asking me questions I didn’t have answers for.

A bit over a week after his first operation he had to have two shunts put into his head because the tumour caused a blockage in his brain. I couldn’t believe this was happening to us.

I didn’t see my family for 3 weeks during which time I moved between my Aunts house and our family friends. When I saw Damian for the first time after his two brain surgeries he looked scary. He had no hair, tubes coming out of his head and he just looked really different. Mum and Dad looked very tired and mum cried when she saw me. I hadn’t ever seen my dad cry until that day.

Over the next five months mum and Damian were joined at the hip

sometimes in Sydney having treatments and occasionally home but somehow they always ended up in hospital when they were supposed to be home. I stayed at home mostly with different people. My Aunt, our family friends and sometimes dad but as often as I could on weekends or in the holidays I went to Sydney to spent time with Damian and Mum.

Damian got sicker and sicker as time went by

but mum and dad said his treatment was going really well and it was working. Not that it looked like it to me. In February 2007 Damian got pneumonia. He was rushed back to Sydney by air ambulance on the 21st of February and I was really worried. Once again my family was gone and I didn’t know what was going to happen or when I would see them again.

Over the next week Damian got worse. One day I was taken from school early by my uncle who told me we had to go to the hospital because things weren’t looking very good. The next time I saw my brother Damian he was on a ventilator in ICU.

It was horrible seeing him like that

I couldn’t look him in the eye. Everyone was so stressed and sad and I still didn’t know what was going on. Things continued to get worse. The next night they found out Damian had had a massive stroke and there was nothing they could do about it. The only thing I could say when Mum and Dad told me he was going to die was that his dreams won’t come true; I couldn’t believe he was going to be gone forever.

Damian died in hospital on the 1st of March 2007. He was 14 years and 8 months old and my big brother.

I felt alone and didn’t know how tolive my life now.

Everything was different. All my family and friends were different and I was different. Everything got worse when over the next 12 months when three of the kids that I got to know while we were at hospital also lost their battles with cancer.

I was so sad they were also amazing kids, life wasn’t fair. I was in year six and felt like no-one else knew what I was going through. I didn’t want to talk to my Mum or Dad because they had their own stuff going on.

I was angry but at the same time I didn’t care about anything

(weird hey) I didn’t even want to try to work out how to get on with my life, I just didn’t want to be here.

My friend with Leukaemia was going through her treatment and was doing really well and she had a visit from CanTeen while in Hospital. She asked if I was in CanTeen and I remembered that I had enrolled with them when the social worker came to see us in Hospital. Mum contacted them and they gave me a call.

OMG my first camp was scary but amazing. It was a new members camp and I was 12 years old. The staff and other members were so cool. I felt as if I fitted in straight away. I didn’t really want to go at first but after I went I couldn’t wait to go again.

I had those feelings that wouldn’t go away

all the time sadness, anger, not wanting to be here in my changed life, and wanting things to be the way they were before my life was demolished by Damian’s cancer. However every camp I go on I learn from the other members and with the help of the staff and volunteers I find ways to figure it all out and be OK with my life again.

I feel as though the members know what I mean and I never have to explain myself, they just get it. CanTeen has helped me to reconnect with my parents and friends and given me the chance to meet some of the most amazing people. At CanTeen we share our stories, to support, develop and empower each other to get through the tough times and enjoy the good times.

I miss my brother Damian but now I know how to live life for the both of us thanks to CanTeen.