Growing up in Peachtree City, I always looked up to my big sister Lisa. She has been my side-kick and my best friend my entire life. With every twist and turn, every up and down, one of us is always taking care for the other.
When we were kids riding the school bus Lisa always had my back. You came near me and hurt me, you would have a meeting with her and she would win. I knew when Lisa was with me, nothing bad was going to ever happen to me. She was my PROTECTOR.
When Lisa got married and had children SHE actually NEEDED ME. Her daughter Maggie was on the Autism Spectrum. She was just 3 and non-verbal. Lisa was in a panic and I came rushing to her aid. As a news anchor I knew I had access to doctors she may not be able to reach and answers she may not otherwise find. I did countless stories on Autism.
As she had done many times in the past, I made her problems my problems. I lived and breathed Autism. I tried to do anything in my power to “fix it.” Lisa is my big sister and my protector, but now it was my turn to return the favor and take care of her. I started a foundation called Maggie’s Hope to help Lisa’s family and countless others get funding. Autism became my life.
Today, Maggie has improved dramatically and is now considered high-functioning Aspergers. We are so proud of her, and of what we have accomplished together as a team.
When I had trouble with fertility, once again Lisa stepped up as my protector and offered to carry our child. After all, we are a team and that’s just what sisters do… you help one another. Thankfully, IVF worked and I was able to carry our baby Gabriel myself through a healthy pregnancy.
And now this year… having been told, not once but twice, “You have cancer,” my sister has joined me in this battle as if it were her own. She has been there for me and Cesar and Gabriel from the start. She gone way beyond being my protector and best friend. She has become my savior.
I can’t tell you the pain I experienced hearing those horrible words last January, “You have cancer. Get here right away.” (Here being Johns Hopkins in Baltimore!) And then again last month, “Your cancer is coming back you need a transplant right away.” There is nothing to describe the fear and pain in my heart, but my sister always knows how to make it better. Without her by my side, there would be a hole in my heart.
It’s not just her love and support that has made the difference. Despite having a busy life of her own, and constantly facing the challenges of raising a child on the spectrum, Lisa has put aside her own struggles and found ways to come be by my side time and again. My mom, the strong force behind us, has helped make it possible by pinch hitting for Lisa and caring for Gabriel AND Maggie in her absence. It takes a village!
On October 29th, Lisa gave me the gift of life and the chance to see our son Gabriel grow-up to be an amazing man like his father. What do you say to a sister who sacrifices herself and undergoes a very painful surgery to share her lifesaving bone marrow? The doctors told her how painful it would be — the harvesting procedure is not for the faint of heart. In fact, we were told that many family members preparing to donate their marrow have simply “LEFT” after hearing the gory details. They got scared, walked away, and left their loved one in a lurch. Yes, they just walked away!
Honestly, I’m not surprised that Lisa stepped forward to be tested and then gladly endured hell to help me. I know she would do anything for me. We are best friends. I know I would do it for her too.
So yes, my sister is officially my HERO… but the truth is she has always been my hero. I’ll never forget what she did for me, and she now will forever be a part of me. Her blood is now circulating in my body is giving me life, wiping out my cancer, allowing Gabriel to grow up with his Mother, and allowing me to be together with my amazing husband and soulmate Cesar forever. Lisa is not just beside me every day protecting me.. she is now permanently a part of me, protecting FOREVER.
We are one. I love you Lisa!!!
P.S. Please sign up to be a bone marrow donor, if not for someone you love then for a stranger. Become their hero and give someone a chance to see their children grow up. Sign up today at www.bethematch.org.
Here’s what Lisa had to say when I shared this post with her earlier:
That’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever read. I love you more than anything. I’d undergo a bone marrow harvest every month if it meant it would give you life. You are my hero. Even though you are my “little” sister, I’ve always looked up to you, always wanted to be like you in so many ways. I love Gabriel so much. Every time I see his little face it reminds me of you… He’s stubborn like you and has your fighter spirit and spunky personality. He is a little you with Cesar’s eyes. I love Cesar for the way he loves you and loves your family. He is a great dad and husband and you are so lucky. He is a blessing to you. I love you more than anything. You are MY hero.