Alexa (L) and Alejandro
Sibling of the Month - July 2019
Alejandro's drawing of a cancer-fighting monster...

When a child is diagnosed with a serious illness, it can seem like everything within the family has changed; routine, dynamics, even how they play together. Friends of Karen Sibling Support Specialists, trained as Art Therapists and Child Life Specialists, help make sense of the confusing and often intense feelings that come along with these changes. Art and play are both natural modes of communication for children. Art in particular allows them to visually express and record their feelings, to try to make meaning of the chaos and pain. Sometimes though, art is sometimes simply a respite and relaxing coping skill. 

Our July Sibling of the Month, Alejandro, six, is a natural artist, lover of old school video games a fan of home improvement stores and a protective big brother. His younger sister Alexa, age three, was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in December. Alejandro tells us all about his favorite things, his feelings, what’s changed and what has stayed the same since Alexa’s diagnosis (Spoiler: Even though she has cancer, it can still be annoying when your little sister touches your stuff). Alejandro shares his story with Friends of Karen Creative Arts Therapist Siobhan.

What are some of your favorite things?

I like Super Mario, Cuphead, dinosaurs, dragons, octopuses and other under the sea creatures.  I love going to Target and Home Depot, meeting the Easter Bunny at the diner, getting special juice at my favorite Dominican restaurant and birthday parties.

What is something that you are really good at?

Math, writing, singing songs and art!

What makes your family special?

My parents had us - me and Alexa, and they love us.

Who in your family has cancer?

Alexa, my little sister, she’s three.

Tell me about Alexa.

She loves Disney, especially Minnie Mouse, and getting toys. I like doing things with her, such as playing games like “Mousetrap” and “Hungry Hungry Hippos.”  Sometimes she annoys me, but mostly I love her a lot.

Do you remember when you first found out about Alexa’s illness? How did you feel?

Yes, Daddy told me first.  I felt “What are you talking about?!” I felt kind of confused

and scared and that’s it. It was weird when her hair fell out.

What helped you with those feelings?

It helps that Alexa is almost done with her medicine and is feeling better. Also, when you (Siobhan) came, it helped. I liked when you read books and made art and played games.  I used to feel scared about her port but felt better after you brought the big doll (Legacy Doll) to show me.

What do you love about art? What do you love about Alexa?

Art makes me happy. I like to do it and it always makes me feel better. I love that Alexa is silly and the way she dances.