Beginnings, Endings, Beginnings

by Rosaria Cabrera

   I will be very honest, I had a lot of reservations about coming to the Cancer as a Turning Point conference. I was very scared, in fact, and I almost didn’t come.

   My sister was diagnosed with brain cancer (GBM) seven years ago. She was living with me and my new husband at the time. I was in school to become a nurse, specializing in oncology. We went through the entire journey together from diagnosis, treatment, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th . . . opinions, more treatments (conventional, complementary, alternative) and surgeries.

   During this time, I completed my schooling and was working in a pediatric hematology, oncology, and bone marrow transplant unit. Since I was a nurse, I was the “family expert” and everyone relied on me for understanding what was happening to her. It was doubly stressful.

   Summer of 2006, my sister’s cancer started being “unresponsive to treatment” and rapidly progressing. I had just given birth to my first child, months prior. I decided to leave my career for an undetermined amount of time to be with my sister.

   I had made the decision to have a child earlier than planned because I didn’t know how much time my sister had on our beautiful earth and I wanted her to experience the joy of seeing her niece be born, holding her, and watching her grow.

   She always wanted to be a midwife and that dream never was lived out. She was at the birth of my daughter. She cut the umbilical cord and was one of the first to hold her.

   So now I traveled to take my baby to her, because she had moved. I spent the last months of her life at her side and walked the journey with her right through the doors of death. At the moment of her passing I was at her side with my baby girl and the rest of our beautiful family to help the angels unravel her strong spirit from her delicate frail body. We shared deeply in the transformation.

   It has been four years now and I haven’t gone back into the field of nursing or oncology yet because I had so much more of my own healing journey to walk. This conference, Cancer as a Turning Point, was my first dabble back into these waters. Going into it I was scared, unsure. I felt vulnerable and I seriously questioned the sanity of my thought of attending.

   In the last hours of the conference I felt healed and ever more sure of myself and my choice to re-enter the fields of oncology and nursing. There is such a community of support and warmth and healing that has been created that is inspiring and healing on so many levels.

   Thank you for making this possible and thank you for being a part of my healing journey.

Bio: Rosaria Cabrera was a pediatric oncology nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. This last year she had another beautiful baby girl and is taking time to be a stay-at-home mom and home school her 6 year-old. She now resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, two girls and furry four-legged daughter. Pictured above, left to right: Rosaria’s sister, her first daughter, and Rosaria.