As the initial shock of her sister’s heartbreaking medical diagnosis fades, a woman experiences an array of emotional, social, and spiritual changes on the path toward acceptance
“There have been numerous times when she supported us and saved us from falling apart when she was the one suffering from cancer and fighting for her life,” reveals Missy Roberts about her sister, Jill Litton, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2009.
“When you have a loved one fighting for their life, I promise you that you will find yourself standing right beside them, fighting just as hard.”
Upon first learning about Jill’s peritoneal mesothelioma diagnosis, Missy was overcome by deep emotional turmoil. She remembers each day as an endless cycle of shock, sympathy, anger, and grief.
“When someone you love is informed that they have only a year to live, everything changes: how you look at them, how you value the time you get to spend with them, how you cherish hearing their voice and laughter. Suddenly every detail seems heightened and precious.”
“Seeing my sister fighting so hard to live broke my heart,” says Missy, adding that the two have always enjoyed a close relationship. “But Jill has always been positive, brave, and faithful. She comforts me when I am overtaken by fear and when I lose hope.”
“I feel the most hopeful when my sister calls to say her scans show that she is cancer-free. But waiting for those results sends my anxiety through the roof.”
While it may seem strange that the person going through the health care crisis also serves as her family’s primary source of comfort, Missy notes that this dynamic has proven critical in maintaining her own spiritual practices and beliefs.
Missy’s faith-based experiences align with decades of scientific studies that have shown a noticeable link between spirituality and physical health.
One of the most recent examples is a Harvard University study published in July 2022, which found that people diagnosed with serious illnesses who regularly participate in spiritual activities and events have a more favorable prognosis.
A United Front of Faith and Strength
Witnessing Jill’s strong display of faith and trust — especially while caring for her two granddaughters — has helped Missy find peace during an otherwise tumultuous time.
“Pray, pray, and pray some more. Even when you lose all hope, keep praying.”
Influenced by Jill’s unwavering faith, Missy believes that God is seeing her family through this battle that her family is fighting together under a united front. She also recognizes that this emotional journey has ultimately made her feel closer to God and allowed her to trust him.
“One phone call and one test result can change your life forever. My sister’s journey has taught me that you must do your own research, express your own voice, advocate for yourself, and never give up.”
Unbreakable Bonds, Sisterly Love
When it comes to meeting Jill’s needs, Missy has selflessly offered her time, focus, and attention to fulfill any of her sister’s requests. Over the years, Missy has driven and accompanied Jill to hundreds of doctor’s appointments and provided thousands of hours of childcare for her grandchildren.
In fact, when Jill was on bed rest for a month following a surgical procedure, Missy took care of her great-niece, finding comfort in knowing that her sister’s responsibilities were lightened, even temporarily.
“I would do it a million more times for her,” says Missy about helping Jill. “It might not be easy, but I would do anything to help my sister through this.”