A Siblings View

When my sister Carly was eight years old she complained of a headache. Our family was hit with the devastating news that she had a brain tumor. When kids her age were taking trips to Disney World, Carly was taking countless trips to various hospitals for brain surgeries and rounds of radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Carly’s courage drew the attention and support from our entire community and from people and celebrities all over the country. As you can imagine, she was inundated with gifts. She began to feel bad for the other children in the hospital who had nothing and no one. She then began to give her gifts away to the other patients.  When I asked her why she was doing this, she said it makes her “feel better.”  This was the beginning of an organization called Carly’s Club that my sister started at just nine years old. She passed away at age 11 after a 3 year courageous battle.  Losing my sister to cancer was a significant challenge for me growing up.  I remember the funeral as a seven year old and the grief challenges associated with her passing.

Carly’s Club is now the pediatric division of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and raises critical funds for Pediatric research and psychosocial programs. I have been actively involved since I was five years old and have done everything from moving auction items, to doing art projects with the patients, to organizing fundraisers and golf tournaments.  It is an honor to carry on my sister’s legacy and to see all the people who have been helped because of her selflessness. She has been gone for 12 years now but her legacy is stronger than ever. Nevertheless, there is a void within our family that will last forever. It is this reason, Healing Hearts  is so important. I often speak with other siblings who have also lost either a brother or sister. Knowing that others have experienced this type of loss helps in the process.

Carly took a tragic situation and turned it into something that has changed many lives. She taught me one of the greatest gifts we have is the ability to give back, and make someone else’s life better.  She was the strongest person I ever knew and her impact on me will last forever. I love and miss Carly very much and I smile when think of her every day. More importantly, I carry her dream in my heart and pray that I can continue to follow her example and make my community a better place. She is a hero to so many and I am so proud to call her my sister.  As a representative of Healing Hearts, I want others to know that they are not alone in the grieving process.

Sincerely,

Matt