Mina and her baby sister Lucy
The Sibling Support Specialists at Friends of Karen have the good fortune to work with some pretty incredible children and teens. They share their stories, feelings and humor with us so generously that we just can’t keep it to ourselves. Meet our Sibling of the Month, Mina. Mina is 13 years old and loves the 80’s, her pets and her baby sister. She has the talent of making you laugh so hard with her commentary on life. Mina’s own life has been quite hectic recently. Her baby sister Lucy was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma in March. This wasn’t the first person she knew with cancer, her grandma, great aunt and even her rat had cancer. On top of all this the world was in a pandemic, which also threw her life in a loop. Her sister had to be in the hospital so often and she wasn’t able to visit because of COVID. Mina and her Mom thought it was best for Mina to move in with her Dad in New Jersey. This move put her hours away from her sisters, friends and school. She spent quarantine there but recently returned back to New York. Read her story below to learn about how her life has changed because of her sister’s illness, the effects of COVID on her family and advice she has for other siblings.
 
What was it like when you first heard about your sister’s illness?
I was on my balcony. I dropped my phone. My Mom didn’t tell me for a week and she was telling everyone else. It just really hurt but I know she was trying to protect me. But she finally told me and now I want to know everything. I ask a lot of questions and find out all about what is happening. 
 
What was the biggest change when you had to move to New Jersey?
I used to see Lucy everyday after school. She was my best friend, I would play with her and help take care of her. Then I moved. I didn’t get to see her anymore. We could barely FaceTime with each other because she was always getting needles and treatment like chemo. My Mom would sleep at the hospital with her and we would talk for only five minutes. I wanted to talk more because I missed them.  
 
Were you ever jealous of your sister since she stayed with your Mom?
I wouldn’t say I was jealous. I was more disappointed I couldn’t give Lucy attention. 
 
Now that you are back living with your baby sister and Mom, how does Covid affect your family?
I can’t go outside or hang with friends. I’m not trying to bring Covid back to Lucy. It’s kinda scary, like just last night Lucy was rushed to the hospital because she had a fever. I held her in my arms to be sure she was breathing. That stuff scares you, she’s so tiny you don’t know if it is okay. She also gets cranky sometimes and isn’t sleeping a lot. So I like to make Lucy happy. Oh and I also try to help my Mom and give her a break. Like I’ll play with Lucy and my Mom will go take a bath. I comfort her too.
 
What advice would you give to teens that have an ill sibling?
Don’t get jealous because they didn’t ask to have cancer. They want a normal life. Have patience for your sibling(s) and parents. Try to talk about your feelings because that helps.