"That's me on the right, my sister is on the left. I can't tell my story without telling hers. Sharon and I were diagnosed within weeks of each other in January 2014, our surgeries were ten days apart in February. In March, we started chemo – sharing a treatment day a state apart.
"Lots of things about cancer are hard. Really hard. Telling my kids, telling my parents, going from being totally healthy to being totally sick, the impact that it had (and still has) on my family – my husband often says, 'Breast cancer is a team sport.' In our family, it really was a team sport. My parents tag-teamed between us (their only children) during our surgeries and our treatments.
"We had no family history -- at least not immediate family history; a few aunts and cousins from two generations before us.
"I still can't believe we are going through this together. I'm glad I didn't have to choose a partner, but grateful that I got her and that we don't have to do this alone. Even though I hate that she has to do this too. It's all so messed up.
"We set up a Facebook page for family and friends -- I just scrolled through the whole thing looking for stories to share with you. I could probably pull a zillion quotes -- one stood out: 'It's amazing how differently we are experiencing this, but yet we can totally and completely relate to each other. I love you!' My profile quote on the discussion boards for a long time was, 'Don't compare, but do share' - everyone's experience is different, but the overarching commonality of it is intense.
"Good things did come out of this shared experience -- a closeness that we never acknowledged -- maybe we knew it was there, but we were so tied up in our own worlds in different states with kids of different ages. This made us stop and think, regroup and connect in a way we hadn't before.
"I'm not the best writer, and there is so much more I'd love to share.... I'm sure Sharon would too. Feel free to reach out!! I love the discussion boards!!!
"A note from my sister to me last October as I finished radiation and she continued Herceptin: 'Thank you for helping me find laughter through the stress and hope through the tears. Having your sister say "I know" and know she really means it meant the world to me (still does).'"
-- Jenwith4kids, shared a diagnosis with her sister