As we close the month of November and National Caregivers Month, The Colon Club would like to send a special thank you to all loved ones who care for cancer patients. The level of gratefulness survivors have for their caretakers is immeasurable. We don’t know what we would do without you. Caretaker, Nadya Carlson-Bowen, has graciously shared her story below and has a message for us all.
I was born and adopted from St. Petersburg, Russia, along with my twin sister Vera. We grew up as best friends in the orphanage, surprisingly, not knowing we were sisters. We were adopted together at the age 5 and moved to the US. We had a great, loving, and caring friendship. We did everything together including playing soccer since we were five years old all the way through our college years.
Sadly, at the age of 25, my twin sister Vera was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. We all thought it was a bad dream, but it was not. Despite her struggles, she fought until her last days. She powered through it. Her courageous heart gave it all she had. After 8 months, Vera passed away at the age of 26 on December 29th, 2015.
Being a caregiver, I made sure that my sister had whatever she needed at the time. Whether she just needed a chat, a simple meal, to play soccer, or a car ride to blast music, I was there. I was there when she had some of her worst days. That is the best part about being a twin. You always have someone there for you. On the other side, it was tough for me to be her caretaker and try to be happy, but you make the best out of it. That is what some people don’t realize. Sometimes it is the caregiver who has the toughest spot in the situation. I was grateful that I did feel I had an incredible amount of support. I still do to this day.
I cannot tell you how proud I was of her. The loss of someone so special to you hurts you forever, but I know she would want me to live for her and be happy. I have raised thousands of dollars for many colorectal cancer advocacy groups in honor of her. I have also been on our local television station, and I truly hope one day, I can share this story with thousands of others including Ellen Degeneres.
I hope I was able to share two things with you all. First, cancer does not discriminate based on age. If you have symptoms, go get checked. Lastly, you are not alone. Together we will fight this disease until there is a cure.