Gary was diagnosed with a brain tumor in November of 2016 when he was 7 years old.  Gabriel, his older brother, is 12. This month we asked Gary and Gabriel to speak to us about how they have faced the challenges of Gary’s illness and treatment. Please read on as the brothers discuss what it is like to be separated when Gary is in the hospital, the difficult feelings they struggle with, and the important people and activities that help them deal with the changes that happen when a cancer diagnosis effects the whole family. 
 
And now, Introducing, Gary and Gabriel! (Interviewed by Friends of Karen Sibling Specialist, Melinda Ferraraccio)
 
Please share with our readers the coolest thing about you both.
 
Gabriel: I like my hair.  I don’t like cutting it that much so I keep it kinda long.
 
Gary: I can make really silly faces.  I make my brother laugh by making faces.
 
Can you give us a little information about Gary’s illness and treatment?
 
Gary: They told me at the hospital that I have brain cancer.
 
Gabriel: I did not really know it was called brain cancer at first.  I remember my mom said it was a tumor in his head.  That means cells are not doing the right thing and all clumping together causing problems in his brain.
 
Gary: The doctor’s did surgery to take it out.
 
Gabriel, have you visited Gary at the hospital?
 
Gabriel: Usually I have to be in school when they go to the hospital.  When Gary first got sick he was in the hospital for a long time.  I stayed at my Aunt’s house with my cousins, because my mom and dad had to stay with Gary.  I went to visit sometimes.  One time I visited and we watched Alvin and the Chipmunks movie.  There was a really funny part where Alvin farted on Dave.  Gary laughed and it was the first time Gary had laughed since he got sick.
 
Gary: I really love when Gabriel visits me at the hospital.  He’s a great big brother.  I sometimes cry when he leaves.  I am sad when he can’t be with me in the hospital, but he calls me or facetimes with me and that makes me smile.
 
Gabriel: When Gary goes to the hospital I mostly ask my mom and dad what happens there.  Gary doesn’t really like to talk about it too much.
 
Gary: I mostly tell him about the toys that are there.
 
If there was a magic xray machine for feelings, what feelings would it show inside of you?
 
Gabriel: Happy today because Gary is home and we are hanging out and entertaining each other.
 
Gary: Sad and normal.  Sad when Gabriel can’t be with me in the hospital, but happy today because we are together right now.

Do you have any advice for other families and kids who are dealing with a serious illness?
 
Gabriel: Play games with your brother (or sister) we especially like Minecraft.  Stay safe and protect your brother (or sister.) Call as much as you can.  I would try to play with them or tell people at the hospital to play with them when you can’t be there.  Find someone from child life.  They can give you games and other things to do.
 
Gary: Make your brother (or sister) laugh.  It makes both of us feel better.
 
Thank you for telling us your story Gary and Gabriel. It can be hard to talk about a cancer diagnosis sometimes, but by sharing your knowledge and your feelings you might be helping another family to share their thoughts and feelings too.  Gabriel and Gary are really close and take good care of each other.  Being separated during treatment is really hard for siblings.  These two brothers have found ways to make the most of times when they are home together.  They play games and sometimes make art.  On this page you will find a picture they created together using oil pastels and water color paints.  At first they played a game by closing their eyes and drawing at the same time on the paper with oil pastels. With their eyes closed they chased, then followed, then tried to not touch hands.  There was a lot of giggling as the colors filled the page.  Then they discovered some really cool things in the drawing and together chose watercolor paints to cover the rest of the painting.  They had to work together to create the final image.  It might be fun to create a silly picture with your sibling and  please check back next month to meet our next Friends of Karen Sibling of the Month.