My sister, Robin, developed breast cancer at age 26 and sadly died 5 years later at 31. This was 25 years ago.
I was already a doctoral student at the time of her death, and 2 things helped me through this time.
The first was that Robin had already accomplished so much, she was a counselor and helped teenagers through their life's problems. She had a special knack, tough love perfected before it became a buzz word, she knew when to be kind, when to be tough, when to laugh and when to show empathy. She needed to know that she made a difference before she died and the letters and visits came that made her realize that she had.
The second thing that helped me was that I was preparing to fight this foe, learning to fight breast cancer. Robin made a difference in my mission as well, a personal mission adds so much to the fight.
Now is the time to stop curing mice and embark on a mission to get this monoclonal antibody to clinical trials!