I panicked a few weeks ago when couldn't find a voicemail from a year ago. It was from my big brother. Last summer my brother was going through chemotherapy for stage IV pancreatic cancer. I was staying at his home in Webster, NY, to help out in anyway I could and to spend time with him.
I remember retrieving this message as I hurried up to dress with my hair dripping wet fresh from the shower. It struck me how appreciative he was when I would have done anything for him. I would have donated my kidney, bone marrow, anything at all to save his life.
I located what he left instructions for me to find and in an hour my mom and I showed up at the Strong Memorial Hospital Infusion Center. We walked through hallway after hallway of infusion rooms where we passed a number of other people who were getting their treatments. We found my brother's room and promptly handed him what he needed.
For some reason the overwhelming realization of what my brother was going through struck me, and at the same time I was aware of how grateful he always was. I was overcome with emotion. I loved, I still love, him so deeply.
A year later not a day goes by when I don't think of him. He was my big brother who I've known my whole life. He was someone I always looked up to and admired. As his little sister there was always a special bond, that little sister-big brother thing.
Through the years I kept every email, letter, card I received from him. But yesterday I remembered this voicemail. But by the time I realized it, it was too late. I upgraded my cell phone a few months after he left that message. And along with my old phone was his voicemail. It was gone.
Although it was a simple message it was more than that. It was also his voice. A voice I wanted to hear again but had forgotten about until now. Because now happens to be exactly a year later.
And a year later my brother is no longer here. After only four short months, but which were four long months of excruciating pain for him, he succumbed to this terrible cancer.
This pancreatic cancer cut short a life well lived and a life helping others far to soon. And in the process he left indelible memories that I frequently revisit as if they could bring him back to me.
Tina is now a pancreatic cancer advocate. If you have a loved one who has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, join the fight to find a cure at pancan.org.