October, Breast Cancer and My Lisa

8:02 PM Kathy Roberts 4 Comments

This is a post I've been thinking about and trying to build the courage to write.With this being October and Breast Cancer Awareness month, there's no better time. Let me start by telling you Lisa was my youngest sister and my best friend. She was 5 years younger than me, so I was her big sister, a mom figure and her best friend too.

We were close growing up in the dysfunction we called our family. We had the usual sisterly squabbles from time to time, and laughed about when it was over. We may have fought on occasion, but dared anyone to have anything to say about either of us...we had each other's back.

I married young and Lisa decided she wanted to live with me, so of course I moved her right in. She lived with me until I decided to make my big move from Joliet, Il. to the mountains of North Carolina. She was 23 then and had a job and friends she didn't want to leave behind. That was so hard for me, it was like leaving one of my children behind.

We talked on the phone about everyday, and visited back and forth as much as we were able.She always had a strong opinion and was never afraid to voice it, whether or not I was asking for her opinion or not (part of the sister/best friend thing)but I guess I'm guilty of the same with her. We would discuss everything going on in our lives, my kids, etc. Lisa never married or had kids of her own, but she was an authority on raising mine. haha

In September of 2000 Lisa called me and sounded upset but it took her a while to finally spit out what was bothering her. Finally she came out with it. She said "Kath when I got out of the shower I was putting on lotion and I found a lump." I thought surely at her age, 31, it couldn't be anything serious. I tried to calm her, with a lump in tummy the size of Texas. I was scared but didn't want her to know.I told her to see her Dr. and I was sure he could put her mind at ease.

Her Dr. did a biopsy. It was cancer.They scheduled a lumpectomy, but she put off starting chemo and radiation for a couple weeks so she could be here for my middle daughter, Amy's wedding.That was a joyous occasion, and gave Lisa and I a little sister time to discuss our plan of attack and strategy of battle against this thing that threatened to come between us.

I think I agonized more over the thought of Lisa losing her hair than she did. She was blessed with beautiful, thick naturally curly hair. It has been every color of the rainbow over the years but at that time it was red, I mean a bright red. It suited her though.
My Lisa during the "red" days

She called one afternoon after I believe it was her 3rd chemo treatment to say that she had been finding hair all over her apartment but she had been putting of vacuuming because she hadn't been feeling all that well. Well all the hair laying around got to her and she decided it couldn't be put off any longer, so got out the vacuum. She called me when she was done. She said she worked at it for what seemed to be 2 hours. The more hair she sucked up, the more there was laying around. When she was so tired she couldn't vacuum any more she was headed down the hall to put the vacuum away and caught a glimpse of herself in the hall mirror. Lisa told me she had to take a second look. What she said next saved us both...she said "Kath I look like Friar Tuck!! All I have left are the baby hairs at my hairline." There was a moment of silence, then I'm not sure where it came from, but I laughed til we both cried. Envisioning the Friar Tuck thing saved me.  Lisa even told me she was so glad I laughed or she would've lost it. That's how Lisa and I dealt with bad things, we would always try to find humor somewhere, some twisted coping mechanism. But that was the day I had dreaded for a while, but we got through it together.


Lisa's Dr told her when her hair came back in it would be her natural color, at least for a while, which was really dark brown nearly black. Boy, was he wrong!! It came in as white as snow little ringlets all over her head. I asked if she was going to go red again. She laughed and said no..as white as her hair was it would turn out pink, so she decided to go blonde, which was beautiful on her too.




Jump forward a few years... Lisa was just about to hit her 5 year survivor status when we found out the cancer had matastasized and turned into bone cancer. There's no cure, only treatment. She did't want to do anymore treatments. We had a terrible argument. She called me a selfish bitch and I said yes, if that's what wanting to keep you here with me is called then I guess I am. So, we started another round of chemo and radiation. She hated on me the whole time, which was fine because as long as she was here with me she could be mad if she wanted. I knew the anger was toward the cancer, I was just the closest person to her, so she lashed out at me and I understood.


Lisa would never let on that she was sick, hardly missed work and would never complain. I've never known anyone as strong as my Lisa or as brave. If I had to pick one person to be my hero, it would hands down be my baby sister. Without going on and on, we lost our battle June 16, 2011. I'm at such a loss to this day. Not a day passes that I don't think of her, or something will make a memory pop in my head. I'm glad to say there are a lot more smiles now than tears, but I miss my best friend.

The point I want to make with all this is that through our loss maybe someone else will have life. I'm hoping that through her story someone else may  read this and  decide to get a check-up. Early detection is the key. Keep up with you self exams and mammograms!

4 comments:

  1. I lost my mom over 2 years ago to Cancer and now my sister was just checked for Breast Cancer as she has a lump but Thank God she is ok. Because like you she is my best friend. And your story was heartwarming and beautiful and I am so sorry you lost her.

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  2. I lost my mom over 2 years ago to Cancer and now my sister was just checked for Breast Cancer as she has a lump but Thank God she is ok. Because like you she is my best friend. And your story was heartwarming and beautiful and I am so sorry you lost her.

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    1. I'm sorry for you loss with your mom, but so thankful your sister is ok. Cancer does not discriminate, that's for sure. I wish so much that Lisa was still here. She fought for 11, almost 12 years. I'm so thankful for the time I did have with her, but selfish enough to admit that I wish I had more. Thank you for reading my post.

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  3. omg this struck such a cord with me - I have 2 sisters and the thought of losing them is horrendous. I lost my best friend 11 years ago a and that was bad enough. Thank you for sharing this very family orientated story with us x x x

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