Gavin is 8 years old and loves to play soccer. He enjoys all types of card games and video games, and loves to write and draw. Gavin is an amazing older brother to Ryu, 5 years old, who was diagnosed with retinoblastoma. Gavin spent some time with one of our Friends of Karen Sibling Specialists and learned a lot about Ryu’s illness and about the importance of communicating feelings. In this month’s Sibling of the Month installment he shares his thoughts, feelings, and some of the things that have helped him most.
And now introducing…Gavin!
(Interviewed by Friends of Karen Sibling Specialist Jennifer Costa)
What has changed in your relationship since your brother was diagnosed with cancer?
I couldn’t spend time with him because he had to have surgery on his eye and chemo. He was in the hospital a lot.
When he was in the hospital, what was the hardest part for you?
At that time, I basically had to stay home or only visit him a little bit. It was really hard- I want him to stay home with me forever.
What do you like most about having a brother?
That we can actually play together, play 2 player games, spend time together.
In learning your brother has cancer, what was the scariest part for you?
I didn’t know what it meant, so I thought what if it’s spreading and I can catch it.
You thought it was contagious?
Yes at first. It was helpful to have someone explain it to me so I understand it better.
Since he’s been sick, what have been some of the most helpful things for you?
Being able to talk to you (from Friends of Karen).
Of all the projects and games we’ve played in this program what has been your favorite?
Probably Shop Talk because it has helped me talk about my feelings.
What advice would you give to other kids who have a sibling with cancer?
I would tell them to make sure you are praying, have a candle to pray every night. When you are feeling upset or lonely, do something you like to try to get your mind off it. It’s also really helpful to have someone help explain what is happening to you so you understand it.
That’s great advice! Thanks Gavin for communicating all the things that have been helpful for you. Other siblings might find some of the tools you shared will also work for them. We think finding someone you trust to ask questions of and learn more about your sibling’s illness can make things feel a little less scary. Siblings might have a special adult in their life who they can go to for support. This can be a teacher, a counselor at school, or even an older cousin or Aunt or Uncle. And remember to check back often to meet our other Friends of Karen siblings!