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Julianna: A sibling's story

Carlos, Diagnosed December 2001 at age 2½

When my little brother Carlos was diagnosed with Leukemia, I didn’t know what to think of it. We were all very little, and I wasn’t sure what was going on. At first, I thought Leukemia was a kind of truck, because Carlos loves to play with cars. Of course, later I understood that he was sick.

He got all the attention, which I can’t blame him for, but did. Adults would fuss over him, and whenever we got to talk to people, they would ask, “How’s your brother?” It was a hard time for my sister and me as well. He didn’t really know that he was sick. He thought finger pricks tickled, and had an all round optimistic look at everything going on. When he wasn’t feeling really sick he was still very energetic and playful.

Carlos has a big head of hair, and unlike most leukemia victims, he kept it. His hair did fall out, but only in the back so you couldn’t tell the difference. Some mornings he would wake up with a couple of hairs on his pillow and that was all. The only time it seemed like there was a problem was when he spent weeks at the hospital, or when he complained about the lights being too bright.

Another thing was his port. A medium sized lump on his stomach-chest area. He thought nothing of it, when we had guests, he would lift up his shirt and show it to everyone.

Once we were coming back from a party where they showed the movie, A Walk to Remember. The girl in the movie dies of leukemia, and he said, “You know, mom, that girl in the movie died of leukemia. Not everybody does though. I didn’t.” It really made me think, because I wasn’t sure he really caught the concept he was sick when he was going through it. He was getting toys, and watching movies, and having dessert as meals. But he was also going through Leukemia, and he survived. It just makes you a lot more thankful for an annoying, courageous seven-year-old brother.

— Julianna, Age 11

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