I had to think very long and very hard before deciding that I SHOULD write about what is a sensitive subject. In August, our family received the news my brother Dino had a recurrence of Cancer.  It was shocking, dreadful,  appalling, horrific, terrifying news. It was news that we had not expected nor wanted.   Since we had been told the previous year, in 2012, his cancer had cleared – this news was a setback for the family and became
unsettling for all of us. I became overwhelmed with emotion, a sense of sadness, worry, anger, loneliness and desperation, and so many questions ran through my mind.

I had often heard people say “Life is not a bed of roses,” and I had always agreed. Life could be a bed of roses, but who’s to say there won’t be thorns? There is no such thing as a perfect relationship, but there is such a thing as a beautiful relationship—mixed with highs and lows, laughter and tears, joy and sorrows, good times and bad times, laughter and grief.

I started replaying the relationship with my brother in my mind. Nostalgia returned. We were the typical sibling rivals, who had typical sibling disagreements, which always ended up getting settled in the front yard with two sets of boxing gloves. We had our ups and downs. We had our trials and triumphs. However, we had nothing as serious as his cancer hit us in the face.

We’ve always been close. When I was young, I always wondered why God didn’t give me a sister instead of a brother, but of course He knows what’s best. Today, if given the choice, I wouldn’t pick any woman in the world—dead or alive—to be my sister over him. We’re not only siblings, we’re friends—best friends.

That’s what has made this diagnosis so hard. This year has been so challenging for me with Dino’s Cancer battle.  Despite everything, our relationship is in full bloom and is a beautiful, sturdy rose without thorns; whereas, my friendships are full of thorns and need to be watered and fertilized. Some may even need to be re-planted…because dealing with the thorns of life, can take one’s focus elsewhere. Like roses, relationships and people have thorns. In order for us to bud a friendship, we must accept those thorns.

One of my goals for 2014 is to properly care for my friendships, in order they that they get back into full-bloom, so I can once again have a beautiful rose garden; to be able to view the transparency of my friendships and either remove those weeds or nurture them to become strong and to be able to accept my own thorns.

An update on my brother.  Our prayers have been answered, and Dino received his last chemotherapy treatment on December 13, 2013 and is now Cancer-free.

If I were to give one piece of advice in life, it would be this: every rose has its thorns, but it’s our faith and determination that provides the strength to get past them, allowing us to finally see and enjoy the beauty of this journey called life.