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Living with My Brother’s Cancer: Not Quite The “New Normal” After Cancer

Bridget Miozzi, age 14

My Brother’s Cancer Changed Us

I try never to think back to the day that Vince was diagnosed with cancer, but I find myself thinking about it often. It was September 3, 2010, and I had just started fifth grade. My parents found out and had to rush Vince down to the hospital immediately.

As they tell it, they planned to come home later that night and sit down with my brother Norm and me to explain what leukemia was and what was going on. They’d told only a few people to make sure that someone was taking care of us for the evening, but the news went viral at the Solon Comets game a few hours later. I got a text message from my friend, Jackie, who moved away to Columbus in first grade, but we never lost touch. It said, “Hey, I’m so sorry about your brother.” I wondered how she knew Vince had to go to the hospital for some tests after school but replied, “Thanks.” Jackie texted back, “I just can’t believe Vince has cancer.” I dropped my phone.

My world has never been the same since. My parents hadn’t planned for me to find out that way; so many people knew and loved Vince that the news just got out so fast. Food kept showing up at the back door, and our mailbox overflowed with cards. There was always someone visiting or bringing something for Vince. I just wanted to be alone with my family, but my parents were with Vince so much. I wondered if I would ever feel normal again.

Norm and I took on a lot of responsibility at home. My parents needed to be with Vince at the hospital. And it seemed that just when he got to come home, he would have to go right back. I would bring Vince food and drinks when he needed and help entertain Luke and Eileen.

I felt helpless watching Vince get so sick. If I could, I would have done anything to help Vince get better. I wanted to give him bone marrow, but my parents told me that wasn’t being considered for Vince just then.

I never believed something like this would happen to my family. It’s something you see on the news or in the movies, but it shouldn’t happen in real life to innocent people. It was such a hard time for my family and a lonely and frightening time for me. I lived in fear of losing Vince and our family changing forever. I have a lot of good friends who were there for me when I needed to talk and when I didn’t want to talk.

After Cancer: The New Normal

Vince fought hard and is healthy today. He has some ongoing medical problems, but you would never know it when you look at him. Vince, Norm, and I are all in high school together this year. Vince is a senior and more involved than most of the upper classmen I know. We are all in Show Choir together, and if I call him out on something that I know his doctor and my mom have said not to do, he ignores me.

That makes things feel normal again. Not the “new normal” everyone says you will find when you are going through cancer but a different normal. It’s normal that we are all together again and can tease each other, ignore each other, fight with each other, and just hang out together. A meal with my brothers at Chipotle is more than just a meal at Chipotle. It’s the normal we all wanted to find again.

Sometimes life throws things at you that you don’t expect or deserve. My family’s experience has taught me how lucky I am to wake up healthy every day and how important it is to appreciate what you have and all the people in your life.

Cancer was a horrible thing that happened to Vince and to my whole family. Although I wish it never happened, words can’t describe how grateful I am that he is still here with me today.

The Miozzi Family

Click here to read the rest of the Miozzi family’s perspectives.

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