A cancer diagnosis and its aftermath reverberate throughout a family. Relationships between members change as the entire family system is affected. How does a family cope when one of its members does not survive the illness?
Today, I speak with Carmen Osornio, whose sister, Ivonne, died in 2016 of metastatic cervical cancer. Carmen talks about the vital leadership role her sister played as the eldest child in this immigrant family and the impact of Ivonne’s decline and eventual death on their close-knit extended family. Carmen discusses the support and coping strategies that she and her family depended upon during her sister’s illness, as well as her decision to focus on caring for the wellbeing of Ivonne’s young son during his mother’s decline and after her death. Carmen also considers how this experience led to a renewed commitment to attending to her own health, mustering the courage to follow through on her life goals, and her pledge to demonstrate love and caring to those in her life.