Sanaa (R) with her sister Mahogany
Siblings of the Month - January 2019
A self portrait shows feelings inside versus what's shared with others...

Sibling of the Month- January 2019

Sanaa is 12 years old and is the youngest girl in her family.  She loves to draw, paint, play games on her computer, and spend time with family and friends.  Sanaa’s older sister, Mahogany (age 15), was first diagnosed with cancer in 2013, and has been back in treatment since fall of 2017.   

Having a sister with cancer can be challenging, and Sanaa is going to share what she finds helpful day to day.

Do you remember how old you were when your sister was first diagnosed?

I think I was six.

Is there anything specific you remember about that time?

That on my birthday she didn’t come because she was in the hospital. That was the first time we weren’t together on my birthday and it was really hard.

Recently, your sister has had to get treatment again.  How old were you when her cancer came back?


Now that you are older, how are things different?

She is staying home more, she isn’t in the hospital as often.  It seems better this time because I’m not as sad and understand it better.  She was in the hospital for my birthday again this year which was really hard. I was really angry even though I know it isn’t anyone’s fault.    

When she first relapsed and was in the hospital for a long time, what was the hardest part for you?

That she wasn’t home and my Mom was also staying at the hospital.  I would usually go there on the weekends, but it didn’t really help, because then I’d have to go back home without them.

How did you feel?

I felt very lonely.

Is there anything that helps you during the times you feel lonely to feel better?

I usually walk my dogs or do art.

Drawing is something that is important for you.  Do you find it helps with releasing your emotions?

Yes, definitely.

With you being older now, you have a better understanding of what cancer is. What worries you the most about this now?

That she doesn’t get sick even more.  I worry about it getting worse.                     

 If you were talking with another child who had a brother or sister that was sick, what would be your biggest piece of advice?

Stay strong, make sure you have something to do if your feelings are down.

Do you find it helpful to talk to other people about your feelings and what is going on?

Yes, not my friends as much.  Definitely family, and counselors, and teachers.  It is good for your teachers to know so they can support you and not give you a hard time with work.

Of our time together with sibling support, is there a favorite activity we have done together?

The Jenga game with questions.  It is really helpful to have someone come talk with you and do activities.  I also love the art. 

This year, what was your favorite trip or activity you did with your family?

I really loved going back to Camp Sunshine.

What do you love about it?

The activities there and being around other kids that know what you’re going through.  It is helpful to know other siblings feel the same way I do.