I Don’t Want to Share!


My only sib is my younger sister Barb. We were both born in Detroit and raised in one of its suburbs by elementary school teachers who embraced Dr. Spock, made a point to keep things as equal as possible and taught us to share. We were the only grandchildren of both sets of grandparents and were spoiled pretty rotten. As kids, we were often dressed alike and with the closeness of our ages, we were playmates for much of our childhood. We have shared memories, as well, of summers at the Cottage on Lake Charlevoix, visiting my dad’s parents in Kentucky, building snow forts in our backyard, our own Dad-built doll house and learning to ice skate on the rink my dad built in our backyard.

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At the core, we share a lot of the same interests and loves. We both took chorus, piano lessons, German and the Thompson/Masters/Hewitt English Program at our high school. We both ski, bowl, love movies, photography and our mom’s potato salad, and know how to drive a stick shift (thanks Dad!). We also each took many of our core interests in different directions. I was on the swim and golf teams in high school, while Barb ran track. I was the scribbler and avid reader who became a teacher and historian, while Barb’s scribbling and reading led to her becoming an artist and creative director. I went an 8 hour drive away from home to college at Northern Michigan University and Barb followed me a year later, both of us eventually earning our degrees. She even met her future husband while we lived together in off-campus housing.

We’ve also been there for each other with most of the big events in our lives. She came out to Keystone, Colorado (with a broken arm) to ski with me and our good friend Kerry the winter I ski bummed.

She visited Antigua twice with my parents when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer and I was in her wedding as well as present for the birth of my niece, Katie. We’ve helped each other move–including driving cross country in a Ryder truck while towing my car, when I moved to Los Angeles from Chicago. And Barb and her family made it to Terry and my stay-elopement in November 2004.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2011, Barb and my parents came to New Orleans to be with Terry and I. Barb was one of my rocks and has continued to be the past two and a half years.


So, let’s just get to the point of this post. Barb was diagnosed with breast cancer last week. Same breast and almost exactly the same age (she’s 44, while I was 43) and I don’t want her to share this with me. I don’t want her to go through any of this! I’m angrier than when I was diagnosed. I don’t want her to be a part of the BC Club. NO! THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. I’ll get to  how I’m going to be a supportive sister, how I’m glad Terry and I are back in Chicago and all that jazz soon enough, but for now, I’m pissed. The breast cancer gene was NOT a match for us and so we thought we were off the hook. I should have known better.

For now, I just want to wrap her up like when she was a baby and protect her from this damned disease.

17 thoughts on “I Don’t Want to Share!

  1. JoAnn, I am oh so sorry! There are no words. I know that you and your sister will move forward because as you remember, you did as well. But I am oh so sorry. I don’t want you to have to move forward from this! Xoxoxo. -E


  2. I am so sorry… Life can really stink at times and cancer is just so unfair for you both and your families.. I know you will be able to help her through this but you should not have to have a double go at this… Sending a hug to you .. Helen xx


    • Thank you, Helen, for your kind words and the hug. The fact that I haven’t replied to messages or done any more posts about how I feel about this whole thing says a lot about how much this has impacted me the past 2 months. I’m starting to process it all, however, and should be posting a couple of new posts soon. xo, JoAnn


  3. JoAnn, I am absolutely speechless….reading this post was so beautiful until….well, you know….I just can’t believe what you and your family are going through…..


  4. I’m sorry to hear this news. I don’t blame you for feeling angry. You will be there for her just as she was for you. You will both get through it, though I hate that your family must face this again.


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  6. Oh, sh#t, JoAnn! I can’t help wondering, did your mom, grandmother, aunts, any other people in your family end up with breast or ovarian cancer? Crap. Is there a BRCA gene in your family.

    *sigh* How is your sister doing now? Hugs to you both. Kathi


    • Hi Kathi!
      Nope. No family history. Nada. No BRCA gene. Nothing. Speaking of which, it’s about time I heard from U of Chicago’s genetic counselors with my new results from genetic testing (they did a much more thorough battery of tests than when I was in NOLA).
      My sister is doing really good and trying to wrap her head around being a size C rather than her former size B self!
      Hugs back to you.


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